Archive for September, 2010

Solar Furnace is Here!

solar_furnace_1Okay, our solar furnace is actually installed!  Now if only it were cool enough to want to use it…  Still, that will come in time and for now we’re excited to show it off.  Here are some basic pictures of the final product; we’ll post pictures of the actual construction further down the road when we have caught up with ourselves (ha!).

It’s a lot flatter than I expected, about a handsbreadth deep.  I think it looks pretty good on the side of our house and Michael B. did an excellent job with the flashing around the edges.  So what you can’t see is that there are two holes in the back of the panel that continue through the wall of the house and into the living room.  One hole has a fan attached (that unfortunately sticks further into the room than we had envisioned) for pulling air from our house through the panel.  The fan is controlled by two thermostats.

solar_furnace_4One thermostat is mounted on the wall and lets us decide how hot we want our house to be (it cranks up to 90!).  The other is located inside the panel and makes sure the panel is hot enough to heat up air as it passes through.  We had it on for an afternoon right after it was installed and it gets amazingly hot.  We could totally set up a sauna in our living room if we wanted.

So here is my very crude graphic rendition of air flow through the panel heating our house.  We were a little surprised that the panel has no channels or grooves on the inside to direct air flow; it’s just one big black box.  The advantage is that you can cut the openings wherever you need them so if your house happens to have a phone jack or an electrical outlet right where you were going to install the fan, you can move it over a few inches and just put the hole in a different place in the panel.

We’ll keep you posted on results as the weather cools down.

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Construction Delays – Part of the Process

Well, our solar furnace installation has been postponed until next Tuesday (initially because the materials didn’t arrive, then because our volunteer carpenter is trying to juggle paid work with this project) which is just as well since the weather seems to have zoomed back into the 90’s.  With a little luck I can keep the house clean until it actually happens…

In the meantime, Will and I are working on a presentation for the Simply Living Fair about the reductions in energy use we’ve seen since we started participating in the SIREN Energy Showdown.  Our working title is “Powering Down: Toward a 90 kWh Month.”  Sounds good, eh?  If you’re anywhere near Bloomington, you should totally come support the fair.  Tickets are only $12 and you’ll help me sleep better at night knowing that I didn’t just make a struggling nonprofit lose money putting on an event that they can’t afford.  (Yeah, I’m having some fun stress dreams these days between coordinating the fair and gearing up for a weekend of camping with 200 girl scouts ages 6-14.)

Further bulletins as events warrant.

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