Friday, November 5, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Really small scale solar

My house was built in 1920 that makes for some problems with the stuff that wasn’t originally planned for, like plumbing.

The bathroom of the house was just sort of tacked on to the main house so getting heat in there is a bit of a problem. In any other room this would be no big deal but with the bathroom we have to make sure the crawl space stays above freezing.

Once a year it seems the temperatures in Kentucky drop to near zero for a week and we have to turn the heat up so high in the bathroom it is unbearable or else the pipes freeze. This year I came up with a solution I’m hoping will work.

The bathroom is on the southeast corner of the house so it should get a decent amount of sun so I made a small 8’ x 3’ solar collector.

I made a simple pressure treated frame and put it on the spot I needed heated up.

I filled a storage bin with water to act as a thermal mass so I don’t lose all the heat at night.

Covered it in black plastic so it will absorb the maximum amount of heat during the day.

Built a simple frame and put translucent plastic on both sides to let the sunlight in.

Used bubble wrap as insulation.

Finished covering it.

And put it in place at the corner I needed to warm up.

I covered the sides.

To add the warmth at night I placed an access way so the minions can get in form a cuddle puddle. I’m not sure how much heat a minion gives off but if 10 of them curl up in there it should keep it warmer.

I’m hoping that this solar collector does three things. First it should warm up the crawl space at night. Second it will keep the area it is in front of warmer than the outside air slowing the heat loss at night. Third it will provide some shelter for the minions in bad weather.

While I was working on that I took the opportunity to seal off my air conditioning unit using foam insulation, duck tape and a minion.

With this combination of solar and minion power keeping the crawlspace to my bathroom warmer I should have a fantastic future, or at least avoid a huge pain this winter.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts


Stephanie Barr said...

Passive solar can be very effective. I hope it works as you intended.

Project Savior said...

I really only need to raise the average temperature about 15 degrees, the pipes are fine when the lows are in the teens. It's only when the temperatures stay in the single digits for a few days that I have problems. With this a nice sunny day can easily make up for that.