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gbwillson

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Hi gang-

As many of you are no doubt enjoying the frigid temps I thought I would remind everyone that the coldest days are usually the clearest. Today is a great example. After it got down to -30˚F, with a -60 wind chill last night we have "warmed up" to a balmy -20˚F. My ZeroPass heater is right now cranking out about 18,000BTU's per hour. The home furnace has only run 3 or 4 times since the solar heater kicked in. 

Yes, being so cold outside the heater took a little longer to finally kick in since it had to thaw out bit, but still...

Greg in frosty Minnesota

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That's fantastic Greg. It really shows how 'Solar' can shine [wink]

Meanwhile up here in balmy Alberta it's +6'C at 53'North

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gbwillson

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These quick two day long chills used to be called Alberta Clippers. Now they are called Polar Vortex which sounds much more ominous.

I like the cold and the snow, but when it is this cold my dog says you can keep it. He didn't want to go for a walk today and he LOVES his walks.


Greg in MN
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These posts bring to mind a question.  Just how effective is a hot air collector at these temperatures (say -10°)
Bert

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MW15697000
These posts bring to mind a question.  Just how effective is a hot air collector at these temperatures (say -10°)


Well mine was kicking out the heat at -17 outside yesterday at 100F. Sure not quite as good as 20 above but the furnace got a little break.

After these temps Saturday will seem like a heat wave.



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Bert K.
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dbc

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Geez I feel sorry for you guys.  At the same time, I'm humbled by the performance of your collectors.  Your dog has the right idea Greg.

We had some sunny days down in the teens and 20's with snow cover last month.  On a whim, I re-tested temp rise on my 4x8 collector on a cold, bright day.  In/out differential was a couple degrees more than last fall (when it was warm), so my output is now up to a whopping 6064 BTU/hr.  I could use more, but on the good side, my furnace doesn't comes on either while the solar heater is running (6 - 6 1/2 hrs most days).  Unfortunately, this leaky, un-insulated, thermal-bridge-to-everywhere building starts bleeding heat the minute you stop adding it.  Glad I don't have to stay in here at night.

Been studying building science a lot lately; I think a dry, tight, well insulated building gets you about 80% to where you want to be, solar is the 20% icing on the cake.  If I get the opportunity, I want to be ready.

Have some sketches for a slightly bigger collector that I can still pick up and carry around.  Maybe in spring.
stmbtwle

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Never got to it but I wondered about building a big collector on an old boat trailer. Depending on the trailer it could be really big, and you could move it out of the way in the summer.
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gbwillson

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dbc-

About 7 years ago I had a home energy audit done before re-siding my house. In addition to the fiber cement siding, I added a breathable house wrap and 1" of polyiso to the exterior. The audit not only checks your home for air leaks, but used an infrared camera to take pics of leaks and trouble spots. Before the re-side, you could clearly see the studs in the walls, and there were a few air leaks. Now every air leak has been dealt with and the home is very tight, perhaps too tight. If I wasn't letting the dog in and out of the house so often, I'd likely have to add an air exchange unit. The audit was free, but it would have been worth paying for. And if you don't go for the audit, look into renting or even buying a thermal camera. 

In any case the upgrades to the siding, house wrap and insulation has made a huge difference in the comfort of my home. Trying to heat a leaky home is kinda like heating a tent in the winter...hopelessly futile, expensive and wasteful! 

Greg in MN





gbwillson

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Bert-

100˚F output in such frigid weather is great, especially with the amount of air you have flowing through your system and the length of your ducts.
After last weeks bitter cold, zero and sunny felt like a heat wave! 

Greg in MN
dbc

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Greg, those were some good upgrades.  Probably the best 'bang for the buck' available.

Does your furnace burn natural gas?  Is it sealed combustion, or at least some close-by source of combustion air (besides the air inside)?  That's the only potential trouble spot I can think of.  If that was happening, I think it would have made itself known pretty soon after tightening up the house.

The main house, adjacent to the outbuilding where my collector is located, had a 50 year old, cast iron, 'atmospherically vented' gas-fired boiler, which was replaced about 10 years ago.  With the old boiler, the house always felt stuffy, like there wasn't enough oxygen, unless the window near the boiler was cracked open.  The new boiler is a condensing model with a dedicated outside combustion air intake duct.  No more stuffy.

CO monitors with 10 yr. batteries are widely available and pretty cheap now.

HRV's and ERV's have a wide price range, and ducted systems can sometimes be hard to retrofit.  Some super-premium dog food may be a better investment.

Don C.
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