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Off The Grid

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Archive for the ‘heating, ventilation and air conditioning’ Category

Passive solar: insulated exterior shell

The better the insulation in the

  • walls,
  • roof,
  • foundation,
  • floors,
  • doors,
  • and windows,

(the shell of the house), the slower the leakage rate of heat or cold from the inside of the house to the outside, and vice versa.  To be more specific, heat always flows from the higher temperature to the lower temperature — so we don’t say that the cold escapes the house during hot summer days, but the hot flows to the house. Often it is initial cost considerations that determine the amount of insulation that gets added to a structure.  Even when the rest of the house as well insulated, it is often difficult (or even impossible) to insulate doors and windows to the same degree.  Therefore, these can cause one of the biggest heat loss or heat gain areas in a house.  A super-insulated, well-sealed structure with few or no openings would be extremely energy — efficient in that it would effectively conserve whatever heat or cold is inside the building. (more…)

Passive solar energy use

Passive solar technology is simply a set of techniques for using sunlight for useful energy without the use of any active mechanical systems.  These methods convert sunlight into usable heat (passive solar heating — hot water, warm air, and heat stored in thermal mass), cause air-movement for ventilation, and store heat for future use.  Passive cooling is the use of the same design principles to reduce summer cooling requirements.

Solar design (also called solar architecture) requires a basic understanding of how the sun moves in the sky over the year, and how this movement affects the sunlight that reaches a specific location at different times in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  The sun rises as well as sets to the north of the east-west line, and is high overhead at noon.  In the winter, the sun is much lower at noon and rises and sets at points that are further to the south.  It is possible by taking advantage of those changes to build a house that is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. (more…)

History of Solar Energy Usage

We often think that modern societies were the first to use solar energy. Not true! Early cave dwellers preferred caves that had openings facing southeasterly that allowed the morning sun to warm them up without overheating in the warm months.  Native Americans in the Southwest oriented their pueblo dwellings.  So the low winter sun would keep the buildings by direct solar radiation, cliffs and overhangs blocked the sun during the summer months, helping to keep the dwellings cooler when the sun was high in the sky.

The ancient Greeks, with a climate that was sunny almost year-round, built their houses to take advantage of the sun’s rays during the moderately cool winters and to avoid the sun’s heat during the summer.  Modern excavations of many classic Greek cities show that individual homes were oriented towards the South and entire cities were planned to allow equal access to the winter sun.  It is interesting to note that by 500 B.C., when the Greeks had almost completely deforested their whole country and needed to find a reliable alternative fuel source, they chose solar energy. (more…)

Peak Oil Survival – review

Today I read the last page of the book Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life After Gridcrash, another Amazon purchase. Since I planned to post here every week, it’s a great I have something to write about.

The book’s title indicates that it’s about preparing for living after the electrical grid crashes. It’s not a manual on off-grid living, it doesn’t describe how to supply your own water and electricity and how to heat your home for permanent off-the-grid conditions. Instead, it helps one to deal with a grid crash in a normal, or low-energy building. It won’t tell you how to make your house autonomous, but how to deal when the energy you normally use becomes unavailable. (more…)

Propane vs buthane

If you need a gas fuel for your home appliances (like gas stove or absorption refrigerator) or home heating but are far away from gas distribution network, you should consider using one of popular liquid gases — propane or LPG. The latter — Liquefied Petroleum Gas — is a mixture of both propane and buthane. (more…)

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