cozy outdoor hosies
Monday, October 31 2005
It was Halloween and I was on a housecall just to the north of the ridge line of Ohayo Mountain, with a good view of the real Catskills north of Woodstock. The nearest of the Catskill ridges was looking dark brown and late-autumnal, but the ridge just beyond it still had a little crust of snow from recent storms. My client assured me it had been much snowier a few days before.
Since our boiler has mostly been on for the past week, on the occasions when I've used the solar heating system it has been to circulate hot water through the house's foundation slab (which is only rarely heated even in the coldest of weather). Today's test demonstrated its enormous capacity to absorb heat. The water coming up out of the slab was cold, maybe in the low 60s Fahrenheit, and the water leaving the panel was warm to the touch, but just barely, which seemed to indicate that it was maybe 90 degrees. The difference, the delta, was 30 degrees. I kept the panel running throughout the entire useful part of the day (10am-3pm) but I never noticed an increase in the temperature of the water coming up out of the slab. Of course, my measurements were subjective and it would be good to know what the numbers really were. I should have thermometers, preferably of the digitally-readable kind, on both the uptake and output manifolds in the solar heating plumbing. That way I could know what the delta is between them and track how it changes throughout the day and through different seasons.
I spent most of the afternoon installing what will be the live hoses that run between the indoor plumbing and the outdoor solar panel. Not only did I install different, longer hoses, but I also insulated them with the same material I'd used to insulate the indoor pipes. It's a polyethylene foam and doesn't stand a chance of survival if left exposed to the sun. So I ran both hoses through a fragile four inch wide plastic and aluminum duct normally used to carry clothes dryer exhaust. I'd rather be using something more substantial, but it was the only flexible hose of the appropriate size and length that I could find. Perhaps down the road I'll have to migrate to wide-bore PVC pipes.
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