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Whats better solar or wind ?


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#16 Michiganmobileman OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 08:51 AM

Well said:

..... For ease of retrofitting it's hard to beat the latest generation of split type air to air heat pump/AC units. I have 2 of them in my house and since I have family in the business I know that the performance of these units is much better than it was in even the recent past. You should look into these to supply heat in the shoulder seasons. For the coldest part of the winter I think a high efficiency wood fireplace insert of stove is still the best value.
I may seem negative about all the alt energy tech but I am merely trying to get the point across that the science involved in this stuff cannot be ignored and that potential buyers should realize that fact and keep their expectations in check. There are a lot of shady installers out there who will promise un attainable returns on investment which cannot be met in the real world. If your motivation for getting this is to save money then educate yourself on the science involved and seek out a installer with a proven track record. If you are willing to also consider this as an investment in the future of the environment then being armed with the facts will help you evaluate how much you are willing to invest regardless of ROI.

Exactly!! A typical A/A HP will produce heat down to about 30F. Below that they may still work but loose their efficiency. As a HP uses electricity to move the heat from inside to outside as an AC and then reverses to move the heat from outside to inside as a "furnace", it uses no fossil fuel except indirect use from the power supply. When replacing an old AC unit a HP can usually be installed for an additional cost, but depending on the age of the old unit replaced and the location of the home the cost difference is often recovered after a season or two of using this as a heat source. This is an excellent way to contribute to a smaller footprint.
Again a Spot On comment. I would not call that a negative statement, as in most everything if it sounds too good to be true it probably is not true. Do your research, learn the facts and don't fall for the latest, greatest thing that comes out as, let other people be the guinea pigs.

Lots of good points too!

This subject can open a whole bag of worms. Some of the these ways to reduce the footprint are worse than the footprint itself. check into the kinds of pollution just making a photo electric panel produces. My take on most of this is, it costs too much for the short life span and maintance required. I look into a windmill system, but couldnt see how my spending 20K for a sizeable system, and the fact it would only make part of my power would really help anyone but the makers of the equipment. The deal breaker with most of these differnt type units seems to be the high cost vs the long payback times.

We decide a few yrs back to burn corn as a main heating source. We grow it right out side the door anyway. We got a $2500 furance, a wagon, a seed cleaner and some other small thing, and spent someplace in the area of $3500 getting it all setup. It does heat well, and is half the cost of the LP we used to use. The maintance is fairly big, as you have to clean it out weekly, the fan motors go bad yearly, and you have to fill the system with corn each day. Been running five yrs now, ive burned 800 gl of LP,( mostly though the water heater in that time), and about 1500bu of corn. In the last 5 yrs we've gone though about $500-600 in parts for the unit, this yr i had top weld up the heat exchanger that rusted though due to the acid produced from burning corn. We had to replace the entire flue system for the same reason at the start of this yrs burn, that only cost $300 more. Back when we started the corn was only 2.33, now its 6.94. We are ahead but not as much as it was sold to us at the beginning.

We did look into doing a ground source heat system, but again at 11 to 25K it didnt make any sence to spend that much money. I also looked at a tankless water heater, but most who have them said the heater exchangers burn out in about 5 or so yrs, so at the current price being five time a normal heater, it just dont pay out in the long run. Our electric bill only runs around $2500 a yr, to heat/cool my 2100 sq ft and run my shop equipment.

I dont think there is a perfect system out there that would work. Ones that seem to be better for the land, have huge payback times, use tons of stuff increasing the footprint, and would be needing replacement about the time they'er paid for. I beleive if the gov' wants people to go this way their going to have to show us where the savings really are at in the long term, not just some charts from the builders stating how much your going to save. .


That is the biggest thing to consider, your "payback time" whether you are looking at alternative energy sources or more efficient equipment; how long do you wait to get to the point where your monthly savings from the new equipment has equaled the cost you had to pay for it. BUT BEWARE YOU AIN'T DONE YET.
When this new money saver is past warranty and still working fine you can sit back and watch your investment grow. But when that inevitable time comes when something breaks down, which will happen sooner or later, this repair cost should be factored in to the "payback time" calculations. Plus you still have the ongoing maintenance costs.

A ground source heat pump (IMHO) has no practical payback time unless it is incorporated into a new construction project where all other aspects of home efficiency are factored in, and you are doing so at a fairly young age. And in most cases the damage that is done to the environment to install one takes away a little of the "Green" factor too.

Give that man the Grand Prize!!
A few little tidbits to beware of:

That new 95+% furnace that the guy wants to sell you sometimes must be serviced yearly (you pay) to maintain the warranty coverage. If it is not a requirement for coverage a yearly service still should be done, and usually out of your pocket in order to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Condensate drains, flame sensors, vacuum tubing, vent pipes, burner ribbons, all should be maintained properly, and more often then not this is not covered under warranty from the manufacturer. And like I said above when these break down, hold on to your wallet its gonna hurt. There is expensive parts in there and lots of them. Remember where possible the old adage of KISS.

But they say it has a "lifetime warranty"? Cool right, not always. Sometimes the "lifetime" they are referring to is the expected lifetime of the equipment. If its designed to last 15 years and fails in the 16th you are out of luck and buying new.

I think it still goes back to the energy SAVINGS. You know you are going to have to be comfortable in your home and you know you want to do so as inexpensively and as securely as possible. If you reduce your needs then the options for Alt Energy sources should all be considered with all of the qualifications mentioned above(not just by me)

Sorry for the book guys, but wanted to get my thoughts in, I think I am up to four cents now:confuse:

#17 KennyP OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 10:22 AM

Good reading in this thread. All points to ponder. I am enlightened.

#18 coldone OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 10:31 AM

A ground source heat pump (IMHO) has no practical payback time unless it is incorporated into a new construction project where all other aspects of home efficiency are factored in, and you are doing so at a fairly young age. And in most cases the damage that is done to the environment to install one takes away a little of the "Green" factor too.


A simple DIY ground source HP can be made/converted from a air to air. All thats required is a "water condenser" , a water pump, and associated tubing. I have considered doing it to mine but i just dont have the time ATM. Maybe when the kids get bigger and need less supervision i can have the time. The biggest expense in Ground source is the burying of the pipes. If you can do this yourself you can literally save thousands of dollars. If you have a large pond near your house you can "pump and dump" the water from the pond back to the pond. Or you can submerge your piping into the pond and use the pond as a static heat sink

Upgrading your old system to a newer Hi efficiency unit has some pitfalls. If you dont update the duct work you loose mast of that efficiency. Alot of HVAC companies out there are Mom and Pops that met the requirements for licensing. just because you have a license dosent mean you know what you are doing. Most of these companies use a "rule of thumb' for sizing HVAC units and duct work. Those "rules" dont work anymore when it comes to HI efficiency. They need to run a load calculation (there are programs for that now). These take into account your insulation, windows, southern exposure, mean yearly temps, etc.. That has to be done to properly size your equipment. Duct calculation and layout also should be calculated, more programs aswell.

Now i dont have specifics for HVAC as that i am a refrigeration guy. Personally I hate HVAC, I would much rather freeze something that to try to make you comfortable.

#19 Michiganmobileman OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 01:24 PM

A simple DIY ground source HP can be made/converted from a air to air. All thats required is a "water condenser" , a water pump, and associated tubing. I have considered doing it to mine but i just dont have the time ATM. Maybe when the kids get bigger and need less supervision i can have the time. The biggest expense in Ground source is the burying of the pipes. If you can do this yourself you can literally save thousands of dollars. If you have a large pond near your house you can "pump and dump" the water from the pond back to the pond. Or you can submerge your piping into the pond and use the pond as a static heat sink

Upgrading your old system to a newer Hi efficiency unit has some pitfalls. If you dont update the duct work you loose mast of that efficiency. Alot of HVAC companies out there are Mom and Pops that met the requirements for licensing. just because you have a license dosent mean you know what you are doing. Most of these companies use a "rule of thumb' for sizing HVAC units and duct work. Those "rules" dont work anymore when it comes to HI efficiency. They need to run a load calculation (there are programs for that now). These take into account your insulation, windows, southern exposure, mean yearly temps, etc.. That has to be done to properly size your equipment. Duct calculation and layout also should be calculated, more programs aswell.

Now i dont have specifics for HVAC as that i am a refrigeration guy. Personally I hate HVAC, I would much rather freeze something that to try to make you comfortable.


Before we built I considered running a loop of tubing under the slab in our crawlspace, with insulation separating the ground/tubing from the cement. My thought was I could built a partial insulated enclosure around the outdoor unit and pump the fluid through the tubing creating an artificial warmer temperature at the coil outside. Did I know if it would work? No, just a thought and unfortunately when it came to push and shove on some of the budget items that was easy to drop. IS that what you are referring to?
Your center statement is very appropriate and something I had forgot to mention:thumbs:.
And I dont blame you on that last comment Codone. People can be hard to please and everyone has a different comfort zone, some of them they are only comfortable when they are complaining:smilewink:.

#20 coldone OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 03:06 PM

Not really. A ground source heat pump uses the ground as the "heat source/heat sink" with water/glycol as the energy (heat) transfer medium.

In a normal Air source HP, a fan blows air over the condenser. In the cooling mode, the outside (ambient) air is cooler than the hot gas (compressed gas). The ambient air blowing over the condesnser, cools off the hot gas (removes heat/energy) alowing the hot gas to condense into a liquid at a given pressure.

As the ambient air gets hotter (90+F) the system looses efficiency.

In a ground source HP, instead of air over a coil water is passed through a Heat exchanger. The Heat exchanger is basically a Large piece of tubing with a smaller piece of tubing inside. The large piece gets water passed through it, the smaller piece is that condenser tubing that has refrigerant passing through it. The setup allows the water instead of the air to absorb the heat/energy from hot gas allowing it to condense into a liquid. The warm water then moves through the underground piping where it gives off its heat?energy that it picked up in the heat exchanger. Typically the ground at 6-7 feet deep is a constant 55f. So the ground acts as a giant heat sink absorbing and dissipating the excess heat of the water in the piping which will then return the water (now at 55F) to the heat exchanger and start the cycle of condensing all over again.

Thats where the ground source gets it efficiency from, the constant 55F in the ground.

#21 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 03:35 PM

My father was in the refrigeration business for over 40 years and recently my brother took over installing the split type air source heat pump/AC units. The latest units are very high tech including a microprocessor controlled variable speed compressor and the latest high pressure gas. They are rated to produce heat down to -10c. The newest unit I have (2008) is only rated to -5c so there has been some improvement. The efficiency is also higher in the latest units. Heat production falls off as the outside temp. is lowered so those quoted temp. figures may be a bit optimistic. For anyone who rejected one of these units a few years ago it may useful to check the newest technology out there. These units have proven reliable and are very easy to install. They only require a 3" diameter hole in the outside wall of your house to run refrigeration lines and electrical. The inside unit is about 3-4 ft long 12" high and 8 deep and sits a few inches from the ceiling so they are not obtrusive. Control is via remote with programmability of temps and on/off times. Well worth looking into as an alternate heat source that requires very little space and no renovation.

#22 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 06:39 PM

I've done a fair bit of research on this topic and the best answer is that it depends where you live. Most places a mix is best. Something I always think of with solar is that we need to put it on our rooftops though. Ever been in a airplane over a city? All those rooftops and nothing happening.

It's weird. My province has some of the cheapest electricity rates on the continent because we produce Hydro and sell it south. So there's not much cash incentive for conserving or small-scale generation. It also doesn't really show up on a chart for reducing carbon either, since most of our electricity is already "green". Since every bit that isn't used is sold to places that depend on coal though, conserving really does make a difference, it just isn't easy to calculate.

I grew up a province over though, and electricity there is pricey. I had some things pounded into me as a kid...nothing to do with environmentalism, just expense, but they turn out to be the same thing so here's some simple things.

Cover your pots when you cook.
Shut out the lights when you leave a room.
Dogs don't need TV or radio when you're gone.
Turn down the heat.
Don't air condition too much and shut it off when you aren't home.
Don't idle your vehicle.

Pretty practical stuff, but if we all followed it, we'd have way more cash to spend and the world would be in way less of a jam right now.

Things I've learned since:

Insulate and vapour barrier. It saves energy, makes you more comfortable, and solves about 90% of the hauntings on "reality" TV.

Buy efficient appliances. Forget the energy savings, they are new and work better and you don't have spend Sunday afternoon re-wiring the dryer.

Go solar and/or wind and get a two-way meter to the grid. You can feed electricity into the system. In most places (not where I live) this pays real dividends over time, but still leaves you plenty of energy for when you want to run the welder and the dryer at the same time. Also, no batteries to maintain. Excess energy goes into the grid, when you need more energy it comes out of the grid.

Plant trees, build fences, put up a garage in the the right place. Wind sucks heat out of your house, so block the wind. Sunshine heats things up, so build/plant to get heat in the winter and block sun in the summer.

Ambient heating/cooling rocks. No sudden breezes. No cold spots. No forced air furnace noise. Warm floors for my old, aching feet. More comfortable and saves energy. Practical in full renos and new construction.

Houses do have to breathe. Like you they should breathe through the proper orifices though. Seal them up tight and ventilate them properly.

Inline water heaters. Why heat 40 gallons of water while you are at work or sleeping? Inline heaters work well in most places (not if you have a cold water source though, so check before you buy) and you never run out of hot water because you were last to shower.

Porches and verandas. We knew this a couple hundred years ago, but we forgot or got stupid or something. They keep the heat out in the summer and the heat in during the winter, plus they are a decent place to sit and have a beer. An insulated but unheated/uncooled porch provides a barrier between your house and the great outdoors.

Heat pumps work. Heat in the winter, cooling in the summer, free (well almost) from the ground. Installation prices are high, but the payback is huge.

Outdoor boilers. I have a friend who burns flax and wheat straw. Heats the shop, heats his house. For the cost of baling, and he has to do something with the straw anyway. Smaller versions burn wood or wood pellets.

Nobody can do all of this unless they are starting with a blank slate and a pile of cash, of course. Do what you can as appropriate to where you live and what you are upgrading. Solar is likely easier and cheaper to do on a small scale, but wind is better if you have plenty available and some space to install it.




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