EcoRenovator  

Go Back   EcoRenovator > Improvements > Geothermal & Heat Pumps
Advanced Search
 


Blog Register 60+ Home Energy Saving Tips Recent Posts Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-23-14, 06:12 PM   #1
osolemio
Hong Kong
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 108
Thanks: 20
Thanked 17 Times in 13 Posts
Default Combining A/C or dehumidifier with ground heat storage

For almost five years now, I'm still working on my massive renovation project, which for monetary and personal reasons and for lack of the parts I need, have been dormant for a while.

Using seasonal heat storage (under the house), foundation heating circuit, and more than 1000 USG of extra water heat storage tanks - besides the underfloor heating. There is also rain water harvesting (2000 USG) and drain water heat recovery. Solar panels (hybrid PV-T) are not yet in place, as the ones I want aren't ready for sale yet, and most of the heat stores aren't connected yet (except the main water buffer heat tank and underfloor heating).

In this place (Scandinavia), cooling isn't normally necessary, as temperatures rarely get above 85F. But some days are a bit humid, and with neither dehumidification, nor A/C, it's not too comfortable at times.

So I was thinking of hacking an air condition unit (air/air with external evaporator/cooler), or even a dehumidifier, so that the cooling of the unit would be routed to one or more of the many heat storage facilities.

Imagine cooling off the air, while storing the excess heat for later use?

If I bought a simple dehumidifier (or a few), and managed to route the heat from the evaporator/cooler, into the heat storage, then I would have myself a little air con unit. The real simple ones, with a manual dial of humidity, could be controlled by my system so when demand is there, a relay opens the power to the unit, and it starts dehumidifying (and cooling) without any fancy digital control to stop the unit, while at the same time transferring heat into my system.

I am a bit wary of hacking into the cooling liquid of an air con / dehumidifier, so I was thinking of some kind of heat exchange. If I could route some kind of tube or pipe around the exit of the compressor to cool the liquid - even before it hits the "radiator"?

It must have been done before - any advise here?

__________________
Space heating/cooling and water heating by solar, Annual Geo Solar, drainwater heat recovery, Solar PV (to grid), rainwater recovery and more ...
Installing all this in a house from 1980, Copenhagen, Denmark. Living in Hong Kong. Main goal: Developing "Diffuse Light Concentration" technology for solar thermal.
osolemio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-14, 08:23 PM   #2
jeff5may
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: elizabethtown, ky, USA
Posts: 2,423
Thanks: 427
Thanked 618 Times in 516 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to jeff5may
Default

A common window air conditioner is perfect for this type of conversion. You can do this without opening the refrigerant loop at all. Here's how:

Take the cover off of the unit. Figure out how to take the outdoor fan off the blower shaft. To do this, you will need to take the fan shroud and the heat exchanger coil loose from the frame.


These units are made so that the outdoor heat exchanger can be taken loose and moved a bit, so that the coil can be cleaned. The HX airflow is from inside the box to outside the box, so over the years, the coil clogs up with debris on the inside of the box. Also, if the fan blades ever break, usually the only way to change the fan is to make the unit give birth.

Different brands are assembled their own way, so you will have to look inside to figure it out. I have posted pics of different brands of units to illustrate: some are cheap plastic and foam, others are built out of more sturdy materials.

Once you get the fan blade and shroud off, you can fit a water container into that space. A beer cooler will fit nicely around the coil.

For more info, search: RUBBERMAID 12 CAN SLIM COOLER

You may have to gently bend some tubing to make it come out towards the top (be careful) and/or notch the top of the cooler to fit your refrigerant piping.



The container doesn't have to be large or swallow the entire heat exchanger. As long as you can submerge some of the HX in water, it will do the job nicely.


Drop a small submersible pump into the cooler, plumb hoses to/from your tank or heat exchanger, fill the cooler and prime the plumbing if necessary.In most cases, the pump can be run off the blower fan circuit. The a/c unit will work just as it did before the hack, except much quieter due to the missing noise of the outdoor fan.

Good luck! Take lots of pics and show and tell us please!

Last edited by jeff5may; 04-23-14 at 08:33 PM..
jeff5may is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to jeff5may For This Useful Post:
buffalobillpatrick (06-22-14), osolemio (04-25-14), philb (04-27-14), Piwoslaw (04-25-14), Ryland (05-08-14)
Old 04-25-14, 01:49 AM   #3
osolemio
Hong Kong
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 108
Thanks: 20
Thanked 17 Times in 13 Posts
Default

Thank you so much, jeff5may, for this post, it is very useful!

I am not sure I can get a window air conditioner in Scandinavia, they are not used very much. Looking at this unit:

Matsui Aircondition - Elgiganten

It's a 12,000 BTU air con / dehumidifier, which I hope to be able to hack in a similar way to how you showed it.

Are you not concerned there will be any problems of corrosion or other damage to the condenser, having it constantly submerged in water?
__________________
Space heating/cooling and water heating by solar, Annual Geo Solar, drainwater heat recovery, Solar PV (to grid), rainwater recovery and more ...
Installing all this in a house from 1980, Copenhagen, Denmark. Living in Hong Kong. Main goal: Developing "Diffuse Light Concentration" technology for solar thermal.
osolemio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-14, 04:18 AM   #4
jeff5may
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: elizabethtown, ky, USA
Posts: 2,423
Thanks: 427
Thanked 618 Times in 516 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to jeff5may
Default

Copper and aluminum are both used as piping and pressure vessels. The water isn't going to hurt them. If the water is pure, or you add some corrosion inhibitor (auto parts store), the thing will live for decades. If the water is salty or not neutral in pH, your mileage may vary. In any case, the aluminum is going to sacrifice itself, so the copper tubing will survive.

The kids who built some of the units in the pictures I posted are now out of college. They have become homeowners and parents, and their hacked air conditioners remain. Most now live as relics in the museum (garage or attic), BUT SOME ARE STILL OPERATING AFTER 20 YEARS.
jeff5may is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-14, 08:07 AM   #5
NiHaoMike
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
NiHaoMike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,142
Thanks: 14
Thanked 252 Times in 237 Posts
Default

You can also get a heat pump outdoor unit (one that's easy to hack), connect it to a few feet of copper tubing, pull a vacuum and run the unit in *heating* mode. If it's not obvious why that would work, the heating mode of a heat pump is just an air conditioner in reverse, so that the outdoor unit is the evaporator.
__________________
To my surprise, shortly after Naomi Wu gave me a bit of fame for making good use of solar power, Allie Moore got really jealous of her...
NiHaoMike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-14, 03:39 PM   #6
jeff5may
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: elizabethtown, ky, USA
Posts: 2,423
Thanks: 427
Thanked 618 Times in 516 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to jeff5may
Default

If it's built like mine, it would be very easy to re-purpose.

outside the box


inside the box

I have thought about making this one a combination unit. It would heat or cool the basement while heating domestic hot water. The only thing holding the top and bottom halves of the unit together are the silver rails. If I removed the rails, the unit would literally fall apart.
jeff5may is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to jeff5may For This Useful Post:
buffalobillpatrick (05-23-14), osolemio (05-08-14)
Old 04-25-14, 08:37 PM   #7
AC_Hacker
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
AC_Hacker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 4,001
Thanks: 303
Thanked 712 Times in 532 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by osolemio View Post
For almost five years now, I'm still working on my massive renovation project, which for monetary and personal reasons and for lack of the parts I need, have been dormant for a while.

It must have been done before - any advise here?
osolemio,

I have followed your efforts for a long time, ever since your first post to this forum.

Everything that Jeff said is true and it will work and is quite suitable if you are a college student living in a dorm. It could possibly even be a good idea if your use is fairly limited, living as you do.

* * *

You live in a house and you have gone to considerable expense and effort to improve your house. I am amazed at the work and accomplishments you have achieved.

I would ask you to reconsider your project a bit. Breaking into an air conditioner or a dehumidifier is not the Dark Art that many people believe. In fact, there are several people on this blog, Jeff is a good example, who have broken into more than one (he'll have to tell you how many).

You would need some tools or perhaps some friendly help but it could be a lot of fun for you, and would certainly be an improvement on the college student's styrofoam cooler unit.

I think that the weak part of that unit is the heat exchanger, the styrofoam cooler, and the open water bath and the aluminum & copper refrigerant-to-air heat exchanger used as a water to air heat exchanger.

I would start with trying to find out how much dehumidifying power you will need for a house like yours. Surely you have friends who live in houses similar to yours who also use dehumidifiers. Find out what size they use. There should be a label on the dehumidifier somewhere that will tell you how may watts a similar system actually uses. This would give you a good starting point, so even if you wanted to make a rig like Jeff suggested, it would be the right size.

But I would go farther and get or make a good refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger.



If the circuit you are going to store the heat into is closed (not a steady suppply of new water) then I'd suggest a brazed plate heat exchanger. (not so easy to make)



If the circuit is open (new water is constantly coming in from some outside source) I would suggest at tube-in-tube heat exchanger (HX) which you could buy or make. (not so difficult to make)

If you wanted to proceed down this road, there are other threads with useful photos that you can follow.

I don't know when the season will arrive in your area, for which you will need dehumidification... If it is soon you might want to try Jeff's idea. But I still think you should do a bit of research, to find out how many watts are required to get the dehumidification you need.

Then later, after the season is passed, you might want to do some serious improvements... and you would be starting with a compressor and evaporative (cold) heat exchanger of the proper size.

Best,

-AC
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	BPHE.jpg
Views:	1033
Size:	6.5 KB
ID:	4346   Click image for larger version

Name:	tube-in-tube.jpg
Views:	2148
Size:	55.8 KB
ID:	4347  
__________________
I'm not an HVAC technician. In fact, I'm barely even a hacker...

Last edited by AC_Hacker; 04-25-14 at 08:43 PM..
AC_Hacker is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to AC_Hacker For This Useful Post:
buffalobillpatrick (05-23-14), osolemio (05-08-14)
Old 05-08-14, 02:56 AM   #8
osolemio
Hong Kong
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 108
Thanks: 20
Thanked 17 Times in 13 Posts
Default

Wow, thank you for all the input!

I have had to defer it for now, at least until next month. I don't live in the house any more, though I still have control over it (100% ownership). In fact, I live quite far away, unfortunately, but things change, life isn't always as predictable as you like.

In this region, hardly anyone use air condition units in private homes, as the temperature rarely gets over 80F. But when it does, it is often with quite some humidity, and as there are usually no air conditions installed in private homes, you sweat it out, literally, or use simple fans, open windows and so on.

I am thinking that just removing some of the moisture would bring it a long way.

Yet when I got to the house last week, the RH was only around 30%, so not yet the time of year for dehumidification!

Thank you, AC_Hacker for the kind words. For sure, this is a big hack I am doing, and I cannot wait to get it working. I will have to focus to get it up and running, and when it does, there will be an interactive website to explain all the systems, as well as historical data to document it.

I have just found that the house is currently using more heating energy than average in this neighbourhood. There are around 100 similar houses, and the annual use varies from around 5.5 to 18.5 mWh - and mine is around 14.5, while the average is around 11.5. This is despite me changing all the glass in the windows, and insulating the foundation in a very efficient way, as you can see in the video at the bottom of this post.


The control of the radiant floor heating is not easy to manage, I haven't yet been able to make it work, so most of the winter it's running way too hot - and I guess that's why the house is using more than average.

By the time I get solar panels, insulated where it matters and all the heat storage is up and running, the house will only be using a few mWh of heating annually.

Speaking of hacking, the video below is made using a hack of a simple thermo camera (with a video output port), a bullet wide angle camera, and both go into a small digital video recorder. I wanted to make it PiP but the formats didn't work together, so instead it's side by side. Total price of this setup for making "Video Thermography" is around 4,000 USD. I have had this for several years now, and maybe there are cheaper options available today. Otherwise, thermography cameras that do video are 10,000 USD or more, for what I know of.

If anyone wants to see the setup of the video thermography hack, I'd be happy to show it.


Until 0:26 in the video, you are looking at a foundation of a similar house, but original, without the insulation modification. From 0:26 to 0:39, you see the foundation which I have insulated on the outside. There are two layers of non-compressive styrofoam arranged to minimize gaps. The top is sloping around 45 degrees so water and dirt will run off, and the bottom is extending quite far into the earth.

On the side of the house (as seen in the video), it extends about 4 foot down, while on the back of the house (see the other videos), it goes down, then out, then down again. The thickness it 2 x 100mm, which is about the same as 2 x 4 inch.

Finally, it's covered in a mesh and then finished off with some strong concrete to make it flush. The bricklayer was a bit sceptical of my hack, but after he saw the end result, he was quite pleased with the aesthetic looks.

__________________
Space heating/cooling and water heating by solar, Annual Geo Solar, drainwater heat recovery, Solar PV (to grid), rainwater recovery and more ...
Installing all this in a house from 1980, Copenhagen, Denmark. Living in Hong Kong. Main goal: Developing "Diffuse Light Concentration" technology for solar thermal.

Last edited by osolemio; 05-08-14 at 03:08 AM.. Reason: Formatting and additional information
osolemio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-14, 03:10 AM   #9
osolemio
Hong Kong
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 108
Thanks: 20
Thanked 17 Times in 13 Posts
Default

Btw, "my" local plumber suggested to simply take the system off a discarded fridge or freezer, and hack it, instead of using an air condition or dehumidifier. I am not sure it would be enough cooling/dehumidifying capacity though.
__________________
Space heating/cooling and water heating by solar, Annual Geo Solar, drainwater heat recovery, Solar PV (to grid), rainwater recovery and more ...
Installing all this in a house from 1980, Copenhagen, Denmark. Living in Hong Kong. Main goal: Developing "Diffuse Light Concentration" technology for solar thermal.
osolemio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-14, 04:04 AM   #10
jeff5may
Supreme EcoRenovator
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: elizabethtown, ky, USA
Posts: 2,423
Thanks: 427
Thanked 618 Times in 516 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to jeff5may
Default

Use what's available locally. If there are no comfort units and lots of freezers, hack some freezers!

jeff5may is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:50 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Ad Management by RedTyger
Inactive Reminders By Icora Web Design