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re: make big money fast!!!
18 may 1996
paul "ex-mensa" milligan  writes:

>~>>nick does have a lot of theories, though he considers many of his untried
>~>>pet theories to be far superior to anything anyone else has ever conceived.
>~>
>~>it's hard to know how to dissect that sentence :-) it looks like an insult.
>
>	good catch, nick !  :-)

thank you. i've been working on my human interface lately.

i had an old prof at school who was not modest. fred jelinek, phd. i've heard
he's now directing the work of 150 phds at ibm, who are working hard on a
voice typewriter. you know. you talk. it types. he wore loud clothes and
often stood up at conferences and asked questions in his very loud polish
accent. he would begin by shouting: 

  there are very few people on earth who are smart enough to
  understand this subject, and ***i*** am one of them.......

hey, it worked for him...

>~>yes, i'm smarter than most people ("references please"--i belong to mensa)
>
>	down, boy.  i quit mensa because it was incredibly boring.  :-)

i just go sailing with 'em.
sometimes they aren't boring.
they can be irritating instead.

less violent than jerry perhaps. i wonder if we can make a deal? 
i stop offering him money, and he stops trying to kill me. this might
make more sense to me when i take an abnormal pysch course in the fall...

>~>i do think _some_ of "my solar theories" are the cat's pajamas, especially
>
>	could you send me about three pair, nick ? 

i don't have any cat's pajamas. how about one of them astronomer's pajamas
that plug into the wall, with foil all over the outside? 

meanwhile, over in alt.solar.thermal...

william r stewart   wrote:
>gcp wrote:
>> william r stewart  wrote:
>> >nick pine wrote:
>> >> william r stewart   wrote:
>> [etc - snip!]

good snip.

>> >>    one could shorten the warm-up time of the enclosure and increase
>> >>    the amount of heat delivered to the rooms by making the enclosure
>> >>    virtually massless--by greatly reducing its dynamic thermal capacity.

>> (sounds like a solar panel to me :-)
>
>yep.

but they are also very expensive, and normally live on the roof, which makes
them fundamentally different from these inexpensive sunspaces. these panels
are often heavy boxes added on to houses, mounted on brackets, shipped from
afar at great expense and manufactured in relatively small quantities, with
ducts and plumbing that go through the house roof, and pumps and blowers
that eat lots of electrical energy every year. (yes, that electrical energy
can come from pvs, altho they are very expensive now and usually waste 90%
of the sun that falls on them, the very same solar energy we are trying to
collect with the add-on boxes :-) 

some solar air heating panels have low thermal mass. water heating panels
have more thermal mass. i saw a new rooftop-type water heating panel for sale
in texas for about $40/ft^2 with lots of intentional thermal mass. it was
about 4x8x1' thick, and contained 30 gallons of water, a batch heater with
no insulation between the water and the absorber plate and the glazing as
far as i could tell. they also had a 50 gallon model... 

brick sunspaces have lots of thermal mass behind glass with no night
insulation, as do many trombe walls and direct gain houses. this is a
very inefficient way to heat a house in a partly cloudy climate, because 
the thermal mass stores lots of solar heat during the day, and most of that 
solar heat disappears through the glazing at night. during a week without
sun, an isolated sunspace can just get cold, even if it is full of bricks,
which is ok. but a trombe wall or a direct gain house with south glazing in
the living space will lose a lot of backup house heat to the outside world
through the relatively low thermal resistance of the glazing.
 
>> there is a philosophical difference here that boils down to whether
>> you want the sunspace to be part of the living space.
>> if you like sunspaces, fine!
>
>thank you!  i've been trying to get the point across that some people
>have their own preferences.

of course people have preferences and that's fine. but let's recognize
that that's a lifestyle choice involving a compromise with aesthetics and
money and fossil or wood fuel consumption. let's not drag in false physics.

a low-thermal-mass sunspace could be a commercial plastic film greenhouse
adjacent to a house, costing 50 cents/ft^2, put up by 1 person in one day,
more like a tent than a building. the glazing might be poly film costing
5 cents/ft^2, with a 3 year guarantee, changed every 3 years in an hour, 
and recycled. or it might be clear mylar glazing, slightly more expensive
and longer lasting, if this inexpensive sunspace leans against a house wall.

or it might be flat very clear polycarbonate glazing, costing $1/ft^2,
with a 10+ year solar lifetime, that comes in rolls 49" wide, so it might
be simply attached to 2x6s on 4' centers in a simple lean-to sunspace that
forms the weather south wall of a house. 

and to me, a "low-thermal-mass sunspace" can also be $1/ft^2 clear plastic
"solar siding," ie a sunspace 2" thick, that takes the place of, say, vinyl
siding on the south wall of a house, with no sheathing underneath and only
3 1/2" of insulation in a 2x6 wall. this costs _less_ than normal house
construction (no sheathing, less labor), and it collects solar energy.

another way to make a low-thermal-mass sunspace is to make the steep south
roof of a house with the same single-layer corrugated polycarbonate plastic, 
with an insulated attic floor. again lower first cost than normal
construction (no shingles, no tarpaper, no sheathing, and 4' x 12' panels
that attach with a few hex head screws) and it can collect solar energy,
with a low power fan that blows warm air from the peak of the attic down
a large cheap uninsulated duct (eg a poly film tube duct that costs 50
cents per linear foot), into the house when the sun is shining. house air
might return to the attic through a $200 2' x 2' motorized damper that lets
daylight into the house when it is open. the value of such daylight might
be $200/year of electrical power savings, vs the fluorescent equivalent,
if it is well distributed inside the house, as well as the aesthetic value
of daylighting. 
 
>> i am going to suggest that a dedicated sunspace need not be part of
>> the design for space heating.

i agree.

>> if you design your house to be superinsulated, it has been shown that,
>> even for houses orientated to minimise passive solar gain, addittional
>> energy costs for space heating can be made insignificant.

absolutely true. but at what price?

>> with windows available now (r-10+) and orientation to make best use of
>> winter sun i think it is possible to reduce space heating costs to
>> zero in an otherwise normal house. 

i agree, if you are willing to live with very few windows.

>> these houses cost little more than a normal house

whoa!!!!!

>> then the main effort needed is to reduce lighting and water heating costs.

true. and how do you reduce water heating costs? superinsulation doesn't
heat water. can we try to look at more of the whole picture here, and make
new houses that have these functions as beautiful integral parts, rather than
adding on kludgey afterthoughts, box after box after box, more expensively?

>> on the latter a recent design here in the uk (scotland in particular)
>> has aimed at reducing cost rather than increasing efficiency of a
>> solar panel.

what a strange and excellent idea :-)

>some of the low-e windows i have seen lately have been close to what
>nick had mentioned; one was sc=.59 and another 'heat mirror' sc=.41

they are also more expensive.  .   .    .       .            .

when will someone start building or selling modular sunspaces and solar
closets? i'd really like to see this tried out on a larger scale than
our little outdoor test structure that's been going with a data logger
and modem inside since november 4. i think it's very easy to make solar
hot water this way too...

the vegetable factory seems to be doing a good job of selling $50/ft^2
sunspaces with little emphasis on solar collection. they are doing such
a good job that they have developed a very arrogant marketing style,
charging big bucks for slim catalogs, refusing to sell through dealers,
and hanging up on customers. they also sell electric heaters with their
sunspace kits, and most of their elderly affluent customers use them as
heated living space with r2 walls... there's a huge difference between
the cost of their product and commercial plastic film greenhouses for
50 cents/ft^2 for the materials (stuppy catalog price) and very low site
labor. the labor standard for putting up a 30' x 100' greenhouse in a field,
from scratch, is 3 people, 1 day. these are more like tents than houses.

physics prof paul bashus and i are beginning to do some more experiments
with good instrumentation on insulating double poly film greenhouse walls
with soap bubbles. john groh's old u arizona paper shows that tiny soap 
bubbles are as good as fiberglass (r20 at 50 f mean temp, for a 6" layer
of foam.) colder bubbles have higher thermal resistance :-) unless they
break when they freeze... prof otho wells of u new hampshire was the last
person to study this in 1977, and he concluded that it wasn't practical
for commercial plastic film greenhouses simply because the care and labor
needed to prevent leaks in plumbing and at the plastic film edges would
raise the price of the greenhouse to a lot higher than $1/ft^2. in theory,
you pump up the bubbles at night with a very small blower and blow the foam
out of the glazing cavity back into a small drum (~200x smaller volume) full
of soapy liquid during the day. this would take longer if they were frozen.
a quarter teaspoon of green dawn in 10 gallons of water makes a nice 4" foam
with tiny bubbles on top of an aquarium with a tiny pump and an airstone. 

i thought it was cold here in phila with 5,500 degree days. duluth with 10k dd
might seem balmy to my russian scientist friend valerie kotelnikov, who says
his kids got to stay home from school a lot this winter when the temperature
_averaged_ -49 f for 5 weeks. we will both be taking a housebuilding course
this summer. valerie is the academic secretary of the tuvinian institute,
siberian branch, russian academy of sciences, and he was surprised and worried
that he will have to bring a hammer for this 3 week course :-) he barely
speaks english, but he has several patents on renewable energy. his specialty
is thermodynamics. siberian houses are mostly insulated with thick walls of
sawdust, and they have district hot water heating, which often fails to work.

my nrel book says duluth has an average of 780 btu/ft^2/day of sun falling
on a south wall in december when the average temp is 13 f and the average
daytime high is 20 f. that includes a ground refectivity of 20%. if we assume
there is snow on the ground or a shallow frozen reflecting pool in front
of the sunspace, eg a skating rink made from a 20' wide piece of epdm rubber
roofing material costing 28 cents/ft^2 over a 1' earth berm, that becomes
1040 btu/day. (the reflectivity of ice is about 60%, water 6%, snow > 60%)
an r1.2 double poly or mylar film sunspace would collect 880 btu/ft^2/day
and lose about 6 hr(80-20)/r1.2 = 300 btu/day while supplying 80 f air to
a house, ie 580 btu/ft^2 on an average december day.

if a two story house is, say 30' x 30', with average r25 walls and ceiling
and a natural 0.5 ach, in duluth, it would have about 3,000 ft^2 of exterior 
surface area and 16k ft^3 of volume with an natural air exchange rate of
130 cfm, and an overall thermal conductance of about 250 btu/hr-f, so on
an average december day it would need 24(68-13)250 = 330k btu to stay 68 f
inside. wow... if the house uses 500 kwh of electricity per month, this
becomes 260k. still wow... which might be supplied by a 450 ft^2 poly film
sunspace, eg a sunspace 16' tall and 28' long, almost the entire south side
of the house. or it might come from a slightly smaller r2 sunspace made
from two layers of single polycarbonate glazing 6" apart supported on 2x6s
4' on centers as a lean-to sunspace, or a wall with some clear corrugated
polycarbonate "solar siding" instead of vinyl siding or a clear plastic
steep south roof over an insulated attic floor. it seems simple to get
the heat out of the attic with a fan near the peak blowing warm air down
into the house thru a poly film tube when the sun is shining, with a return
duct in the attic floor, eg a $50 2 watt honeywell damper actuator attached
to a 2' x 2' piece of foil faced foam that lets some daylight into the house
when it's open.

move that same house to abilene, texas, with 1400 btu/ft^2/day of sun and
an average december temp of 46 f, and an average daytime high of 57 f, and
the house will only need 24(68-46)250 = 132k of heat to stay warm, 72k of
which might be supplied by a few incandescent light bulbs, leaving 60k,
which might be supplied by a sunspace 8' tall x 4' wide with one layer of
glazing, with a white surface in front of it, on the front side of the house.
will people there ever disfigure their houses that way? what would the
neighbors think? could one just say "faith without works is dead"? :-)

how many cloudy days in a row does duluth have in december? storing 260kx5days
takes 52 55 gallon drums full of 130 f water falling to 80 f, or 3 1500 gal
6' x 12' x 5' tall septic tanks, which might double as the foundation of a
house and excellent thermophilic septic pretreatment in a walk-out basement
with a glazed south wall...

a subversive thought: electric utilities have nice blower door testing and
certification programs for houses, but they have to be elecrically-heated
houses... but electric heat has a very low first cost, and it isn't expensive
if it is hardly ever used....... if a new house is well-sited, and it has an
electric resistance hot air furnace, and it just happens to have a large
south wall with few windows facing away from the street, it might be an
interesting intentional solar retrofit project... after a few of these
retrofits the utilities might to catch on and exclude such houses from
their blower door testing program, but lots of people do blower door 
testing, and electric utilities catch on so slowly... 

gotta go,

nick



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