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Old 11-10-11, 03:04 PM   #61
bennelson
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Creeky, my wife would require that you pay the groan fee and put $2 in the pun jar!

Actually, the solar collector rack is pretty level, three of the four posts are nearly perfectly plumb (the front left one is off by a bit, but not too bad.)

The horizontal wooden rectangular frame for the solar panel was never square. Looking at it, whoever built it did NOT use the exact same length wood for the two long parts. I really didn't want to rebuilt that thing, especially with the custom aluminum brackets already on there. Instead, I simply measured cross-corners with a tape measure. It's as square as you can make a trapezoid.

Today, I swapped out the couple of bolt that were in there, but not quite the right size or length, for the "correct" bolts. I used galvanized dipped bolts, nuts, and washers. I would have liked to use stainless, but I still have to pay for groceries this week...

With the right bolts in there, and tightened down with my cordless impact, the entire collector setup felt much more rigid.

I also insulated the inside of the PVC pipe. Current weather is 36 degrees F and snowing. How it snows when it's not even below 32, I don't know. Must be colder 100 feet higher in the sky.

Anyways, it's cold outside. The pipe cap on the outside of the PVC pipe seems to fit pretty snug, I don't think I am getting any draft through there. I took the pipe cap off, then rolled up some egg-crate foam and stuffed it in there. (Something similar to mattress pad foam) I now have a solid plug of foam a good foot long shoved in there.

I then put the cap back on. It should be pretty well insulated now.

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Old 11-11-11, 08:44 AM   #62
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nothing like getting it done to find out what needs to be added.

and, it looks really good. can't wait to see the performance. (yes, I am keeping back yet another pun. I can't afford too many trips to the pun jar. smile).
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Old 11-11-11, 10:41 AM   #63
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Another thing I am now toying with is a "mini" system in my laundry room.

The solar water tank is quite large - 24" diameter (plus boiler drain and to and from solar panel connectors, which are on the side) and 5 feet tall, and about 400 lbs.

I will nearly have to remodel my laundry room to fit it in there. And I this point, I don't even know if everything will work. I've never built a solar setup before!

I was thinking about maybe installing some sort of small tank first. Just a couple gallons. Maybe I could even find an old 5 gallon electric water heater to use. Just something that I could get in there and test with - make sure everything works right, and if it doesn't, still have room to fix things, move them around etc.

Once that BIG tank goes in the laundry room, it ain't comin' out!
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Old 11-11-11, 10:55 AM   #64
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It sounds big. My old system's tank held 84 gallons (700 pounds).
I had three collectors. Must have been around 85 sq feet of collector.

There is little question about yours working, or not, it's just how well it will work..
Is this a pre-heater system or direct use?
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Old 11-11-11, 11:20 AM   #65
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This is going to be a preheater system.

I already have a 40 gallon traditional natural gas water heater.

In Wisconsin winters, there is often many days in a now with no direct sunlight. Some sort of backup is needed no matter what.

I already have the water heater and it's in good condition, so I don't see any reason to change that. The only possibility I could see is to change that out for an "on-demand" heater. However, we have VERY hard water at my house (yes, we have a water softener....) and my understanding of how on-demand heaters work involves the fact that they have many small openings inside to exchange the heat into the water. That does NOT sound like a good combination with my extra-hard water.

I also do understand that natural gas water heaters have higher "stand-by" losses than electrics do, but again, I already have the heater, it's in good condition, and works well.

Also, even if I removed the water heater, I wouldn't be able to put the solar tank in its place. The water heater is 18" in diameter, and the solar tank is 24". The water heater is right between the wall and the furnace (which is NOT moveable). There wouldn't be enough room there for the solar tank anyways.

The solar tank is 60 gallons, and the solar collector is 4'x10' - 40 sqft. So it's 1.5 gallons of solar storage per square foot of collector, about right from what I have heard of for my area.
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Old 11-11-11, 11:51 AM   #66
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That tank sounds like it should work fine. 1-2 gallons per sqft of collector is what I've heard so your right in line with that.
Can't wait to see how this does!
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Old 11-11-11, 05:26 PM   #67
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I tried to make my rack look a little prettier today.

Again, this is the side that faces the road and all the traffic, so I want it to look decent.

I added some lattice to skirt the framework.







Right now, the lattice is just screwed directly to the structural wood framework. You can still see pressure-treated 4x4s right through it. It would look better with some cedar trim painted to match the house.

Some vines of something growing in the lattice may improve the look as well. I wanted to at least get something on there to make it look OK for the winter. I can always put some more time in in the spring and really do it up right.
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Old 11-11-11, 08:11 PM   #68
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Looking pretty neat!! I should put lattice around my PV deck..

Be sure to look at these pictures before you go out and clean off the snow.
A few inches of snow is not going to protect that aluminum downspout from your boot.
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Old 11-11-11, 09:11 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xringer View Post
A few inches of snow is not going to protect that aluminum downspout
Even worse than that is the PVC drain pipe half buried that you can't EVEN SEE next to the downspout!

Can't tell you how many times I have stepped on that!
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Old 01-23-12, 03:07 PM   #70
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Hey Ben, any update on this project?

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