hot water on demand
Monday, June 4 2007
It was a cloudy, rainy day, and the dogs were bored. So I took them with me on a commercial errand out on 9W north of Kingston. I needed those metric bolts needed to hang my ViewSonic monitor (described yesterday) and I wanted to finally solve my hot water on demand problem.
By hot water on demand, I mean the nearly-boiling kind that can be used to fix a cup of tea or perhaps even a whole French press full of coffee (that's the only way I prepare coffee these days). Due to the enormous amount of tea I drink, for most of my adult life, I've arranged to have some sort of hot water on demand system. After college when I was living in the Shaque at my parents' place, I had one of those two gallon semi-commercial coffee urns full of potable water. The thing was always on and probably used a frightful amount of electricity. In Charlottesville, when I worked at Comet.net, I started out heating water with the microwave but then discovered the hot water tap on the water cooler. This was a feature that I would find useful at all my future places of employment and also when I lived in San Diego (Bathtubgirl got a water cooler with hot water on demand as part of our bottled water subscription when we lived on Cape May Avenue in Ocean Beach).
Up here in Hurley, I've relied on the old semi-commercial coffee urn technique, but I've made it a little less wasteful by insulating the urn and putting it on a timer so it only heats water during the hours I'm normally awake. Since the urn I've been using seems to have a defective thermostat (it never shuts off, even when the water is boiling), I've set the timer to heat the water for only a half hour (the granularity of the timer) every two hours. Suffice it to say, though, it's been a wasteful system.
Back in the winter I did some experiments with heating water on demand using the heating elements of old coffee makers. I found it was possible to heat water this way, but not fast enough to fill a coffee cup in a reasonable amount of time using conventional household electrical circuits.
So today I bought a water cooler unit at Home Depot, and it marked the first time I actually went out of my way to ask a Home Depot employee a question. Talk about being as dumb as a bucket of door knobs! These guys make the employees at Lowes look like Thomases Edison. Admittedly, Home Depot generally hires a decidedly more photogenic staff than Lowes, but none of that optical pastry translates into knowledge. There is no e=mc2 equating beauty with wisdom, not even with a huge factor like the square of the speed of light. My question concerned a floor model and whether or not it was the only unit of its kind. In the end, I bought a somewhat more expensive model that was definitely in stock. I didn't have a matching five gallon jug to fill with water and stick on top, so I just took an empty bottle off Home Depot's return rack and as I was checking out I acted as if I'd brought it in with me to test its fit.
Most of the water cooler's internal mechanisms are dedicated to the task of cooling, which I won't be using (perhaps I can take these parts out and use them for something else). As for the heating mechanism, the device keeps a small insulated reservoir of super-heated water. In operation, though, I noticed that a metal band around the hot water reservoir was very hot to the touch, so I added some fiberglass insulation of my own. It seems like it should be possible to greatly increase the energy efficiency of these devices from their stock values.
Later today I managed to attach the ViewSonic VX2035WM 1680 X 1050 monitor to my new shelving unit, and it worked as expected, although to get it to hold position I resorted to installing a telescoping antenna as a sticky diagonal brace; it worked like a charm. Removing the monitor's bulky base wasn't as straight-forward as it had been with my Gateway LCD. On the ViewSonic, the screws holding the base to the panel are hidden behind two blocky plastic covers that snap off easily if pulled a certain way.
The new monitor cabinet door, closed.
Open a little.
Lined up with the other monitors, creating a horizontal band of screen 4880 pixels across.
The shelves behind it are also accessible.
Cantankerous Wilma, who has lived with us since October.
Clarence the cat loves to cuddle with Eleanor. But what if she should suddenly turn?
I must include another picture of this phenomenon. I have many others!
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