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making the best of electric heat

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
44(A)/49(B)/25(outside)

I have been hearing the baseboard heaters come on the last few days.

Yesterday was a pajama day.  I spent the whole day in thick, fuzzy stuff and was very comfortable.  I used the heated keyboard (25 watts), heated mouse (2.5 watts), dog bed heater (15 watts) and my 40 watt incandescent light bulb.  82.5 watts.  I was never temped to turn on one of the reptile heaters (60 watts each) or the radiant heater (300 watts) or the personal heater (800/1500 watts). 

This may be a good time to re-iterate, that without the 82.5 watts of personal heaters, the minimum room temp I can be comfortable in is 65 degrees.  Further, this soon-to-be-banned 40 watt incandescent light bulb is critical to this plan of saving hundreds of dollars worth of electricity. 

Here is a quick thought for those folks that might think they would be uncomfortable at 40 degrees:  get the 82.5 watt package and turn it on.  If you feel too warm, turn your house heat down. 


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tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3096
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
what about some strategies to heat yourself up from the inside?  something like the old cold-shower-to-warm-up or stand-naked-in-the-cold-for-five-minutes in the morning tricks.  or warm beverages and soup.


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
paul wheaton wrote:
the power bill has arrived.

The numbers are in KWH.  The first number is for the guy that was here last year and the second number is for me.

jun  468/279
jul   383/308
aug 304/247
sep 352/189
oct 714/314
nov 960/695
dec 1284/460



Here we are a month later and the power bill has arrived again. 

jan 1503/485

Using the algorithm for last time, this means that for january of 2010, the other guy used about 1153kwh for heat and I used about 235kwh.  So I used about 80% less.   

And I had company for a week in january.  For that week, I kept the temperature in the house at at least 55F, and in the bathroom at 65F.  And there was a LOT of cooking, and a LOT of use of the 300 watt radiant heater.  So it is possible I could have carved even more, but the point of all this is comfort!  And my guest was comfortable at all times.

For those just tuning in, here is how I'm doing it: 

Rather than heat my whole house



I turn the house thermostat down to 50.  My earliest attempt was using just a personal heater set to 800 watts:



That saved a lot, but it left my legs too hot and the rest of me too cold.

So then I focused on personal heaters that would focus on warming me.  I got this down to about 235 watts.:



And then I optimized the system where I bundled up a bit (mostly just adding a sweater and thick socks) and focused the heat on the areas featuring exposed skin or seemed to get cold:



I got this down to 82.5 watts. 

Here is how I think it works.  This graph shows how much electricity is used for heat when your thermostat is set to 70:



And here is the same graph with the thermostat set to 50:



And then I add in the power used for my 82.5 watts (the yellow):



Here are the stars of this show:


a dog bed warmer (15 watts)



heated keyboard (25 watts)




heated mouse (2.5 watts)



And a standard 40 watt incandescent light bulb positioned about a foot over my head in a chick brooder reflector. 

At night I get into a very warm bed with the help of

this 30 minute power timer


and

this heated mattress pad


With the two together, the pad uses about 200 watts for half an hour.  Once I'm asleep, I stay warm as toast all night. 

Without the personal heaters, even when bundled up, the lowest temperature I could tolerate comfortably was about 65.  And sometimes 65 was too cold.  But with these four personal heaters, I have been perfectly comfortable in a 50 degree house for months.  I even spent some days at 40 degrees.

This thread is now seven pages long and covers a lot of experimenting and daily reports. 

If you want to try this, I recommend that you start with the dog bed heater, the heated keyboard and the light bulb.  When you feel too warm, turn down the house thermostat until you feel comfortable. 

I know that most people live in houses much bigger than mine (700 square feet), and most people pay far more for electricity, so trying this could save thousands of dollars every winter. 

I'll keep doing this through the rest of the winter.  I got the keyboard and mouse around the 20th of january, so I think the bill for this month will be even cheaper.  Plus I have no plans for guests.  So I wonder if I might be able to cut the heating bill by 85% or 90% for february.  But I currently cannot think of ways to cut the bill further.  For now, I feel good about cutting it 80% and I'm perfectly warm and comfortable.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The outside temp got up to 40 yesterday.  So the inside temp rose too.  82.5 watts of personal heating got too warm for me.  I turned off the incandescent light for most of the day.

Thermometer A is currently reading 48.  I'm barefoot.  And I'm feeling too warm with 82.5 watts.  I'm thinking it would be nice to have my light on some sort of arm or something so I can adjust it - easily move it a little further away and closer as needed.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
paul wheaton wrote:
I'm feeling too warm with 82.5 watts.  I'm thinking it would be nice to have my light on some sort of arm or something so I can adjust it - easily move it a little further away and closer as needed.


Maybe this would be an excellent time for a dimmer switch.

Only I think I remember reading something about how dimmer switches actually don't save much.  I think the lumens per watt goes up a lot as you turn it down.  So you might be at 1/10th the light, but using half the juice.

Anybody know about this sort of thing?

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Old dimmer switches were terribly inefficient. Modern solid state (triac) dimmer switches are a whole different, and quite efficient thing. They actually turn the power on and off rapidly. Because filaments do not instantly darken when the power is interrupted it appears dimmer. There is a very small voltage drop across the device, maybe half a watt, so for most purposes that is negligible.

They do not work with conventional fluorescents or CFL's.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
mtnDon Miller wrote:
They do not work with conventional fluorescents or CFL's.


Not very well. I don't know about CFLs, but I have seen dimmers work on the old ballast type... you have to put it on full to get it to start then you can dim about half way before they drop out. I don't know what it does to the power curve or longevity of things.... Where I saw them used, I don't think they cared.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I think (not sure) that the ballast life is shortened if made to work with conventional FL.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
mtnDon Miller wrote:
I think (not sure) that the ballast life is shortened if made to work with conventional FL.


Not sure, the ballast is a transformer and would kill the spikes... the electronic ballast of the CFL would probably not like those spikes caused by a dimmer at half shutting off the current.... in fact, a dimmer hooked up to an incandescent on the same circuit could shorten the life of a CFL even though it was not controlling the CFL directly. So CFLs (and LED lamps for that matter) might not fare as well in places with more thunder storms. I would assume that these lamps have a MOV in them to help, but MOVs wear out over time.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
44(A)/49(B)/22(outside)

Nothing new.  Everything is the same.    Another barefoot pajama day working at home.  Got a little too warm yesterday, so I turned the bulb off for a while. 

I'm looking forward to the next power bill cuz I think it will be much lower.  After all, it wasn't until the 20th of january that I switched from the 235 watt approach to the 82.5 watt approach.  Plus, there was the week of company.   So if I used 235kwh for heat last month ...  my caluculations suggest that this month will be about 170 - possibly bringing me to an 85% reduction in the heat bill.  Maybe even 90%.



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I wonder if the dimmer switch would cut into the lifespan of the bulb.  Or reduce the quality of light that the bulb gives off.  Or cause some sort of buzzing or something. 
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
paul wheaton wrote:
I wonder if the dimmer switch would cut into the lifespan of the bulb.  Or reduce the quality of light that the bulb gives off.  Or cause some sort of buzzing or something. 


Incandescent lamps, when used with a dimmer, can enjoy greatly increased life. We have a couple dimmers and the lamps are virtually always run at half power or less... "romantic" levels. I can't recall ever changing them.  The light color becomes warmer at lower settings. If a small amount of dimming is dialed in my eyes see little if any difference. I hear no buzzing either. In fact I hear slight buzzing from some CFL's but not the dimmed incandescents.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would like to think that this stuff I'm doing will result in a new product line of personal micro heaters.  And while they keyboard, the mouse and the dog bed heater already exist and are probably just fine, I think the one that could be a little tricky, is the head "heater" combined with the contraption that holds it in place.  But!  It does seem like a dimmer switch in the base could be a smart thing. 

Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
I would like to think that this stuff I'm doing will result in a new product line of personal micro heaters.  And while they keyboard, the mouse and the dog bed heater already exist and are probably just fine, I think the one that could be a little tricky, is the head "heater" combined with the contraption that holds it in place.  But!  It does seem like a dimmer switch in the base could be a smart thing. 


Ok, there are replacement lamp switches that have dimmers in them and fit in the hole normal turn on/turn off switches fit in. As well as touch switches that can retrofit a lamp that have more than one brightness. If half/full are all you want, a two way toggle switch can feed direct power (100%) or though a diode (50%)... this has the advantage of not adding spikes to your power as all the switching is done at the zero crossing point. A dimmer at half power switches on at full voltage 120 times a second. This won't make your heater buzz, but it may affect any audio/video devices close by. A rheostat  won't work as it turns the part of the power not being used into... heat.

Aside from all that, the whole heat the person not the room (actually not the air) is great. You can be comfortable in a home at 50F. But when company comes over you turn the heat up to make them comfortable. With my family here, It is like having company over all the time. So the next step is how can I make company comfortable with a lower air temperature?

In another thread about the RMH using less wood than a CWH, the point was made about the CWH being a point source and basicly trying to heat up the air. While the RMH heated the people by radiation from a large object.

Maybe I can do the same. I mentioned the idea of an electrically heated massive coffee table. The idea was that it would be a large radiator just like the RMH and people sitting facing it with their back against an insulating couch. The guests then may feel comfortable even with a low air temperature. A heated dining table could do the same thing (or desk for individual use).

My next thought was that really these things don't have to be that massive, they just have to radiate from a large area. With a RMH there is reason for the mass, to allow the fire to burn quickly. With electricity, that isn't necessary. It is 100% efficient and as clean as it is going to get at 1% power or 100%. Heat storage won't help... in fact it just makes things less controllable. (the thing to remember here is that we are making the best of electric heat, not calling it the best thing going)

Most large heating elements are 220V... this is not easy for the average user.... but maybe 2 1kw-220v (4 ft) baseboard elements in parallel at 120v would be 500watts or even just one at 250watts. Take all the little fins off (they are there to heat air) and bond it to a plate of steel or aluminum the size of the table top. Put a tile or marble top on it to look nice and still radiate (I don't know yet how hot the radiator surface has to be to work so I don't know if a wood top would survive). Next take the thermostat off of an electric fry pan to control how hot it gets (the commercial version would be better). The heating part could be under $100... the table part might cost more depending on how nice you want it to look... but you would spend that anyway. It would radiate top and bottom to heat the whole person... the bottom could even be shaped to radiate mostly to the side.... the top may be able to be contoured to throw heat sideways too (concave with a glass top?). Insulation and/or reflectors may be able to make it more directional for lower power use.

The dining table would need chairs with out an open back.... in fact they may need to be insulated... same with a desk (as you found). Perhaps a chair mitt would be a cheap way of doing that (like a big oven mitt).
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3096
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
I like where you're going, Len.  I was sort of thinking along similar lines doing chores today.

what about using electric heating cable as your element?  gets used to heat driveways and gutters and floors and all sorts of stuff.  it's flexible, so you could run it wherever you like.  comes in a few different profiles and temperature ranges.  never worked with the stuff, myself, so I don't know what sort of controllers and thermostats are involved, but I bet it could work pretty well for what you're thinking of.

as far as what to use as a radiator, I would think it would just have to conduct heat well.  wood doesn't do that, though I imagine exceptionally dense species are a little better conductors.  and to get the advantage of the extra surface area of a flat radiator, the broad side should be facing the folks that need heating.  a table could sort of work for that, but I think a floor or wall would work better.  and either of those would be more work.

the other question I've been thinking about is if there are materials that don't conduct heat, but are transparent to infrared radiation.  a material like that could be used to insulate a radiator from the air while still allowing it to heat folks.  maybe such a thing is science fiction, or maybe it's really common and cheap.  I sure don't know.

paul wheaton wrote:
I would like to think that this stuff I'm doing will result in a new product line of personal micro heaters. 


well, what are you waiting for?  start shopping the idea around.  maybe a trip to the patent office is in order, if that's your style.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3096
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
Len wrote:
My next thought was that really these things don't have to be that massive, they just have to radiate from a large area. With a RMH there is reason for the mass, to allow the fire to burn quickly. With electricity, that isn't necessary. It is 100% efficient and as clean as it is going to get at 1% power or 100%. Heat storage won't help... in fact it just makes things less controllable. (the thing to remember here is that we are making the best of electric heat, not calling it the best thing going)


variable electricity rates might make thermal mass worthwhile even using electric heat.  peak time rates are frequently quite a bit higher.  so if the electricity is used when it's cheaper to make and store heat, it might be possible to shave a few more bucks off the bill.  whether it's worth the effort I don't know.  that would depend on several variables.  and the mass could be useful to moderate summer temperatures, too.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
tel jetson wrote:
what about using electric heating cable as your element?  gets used to heat driveways and gutters and floors and all sorts of stuff.  it's flexible, so you could run it wherever you like.  comes in a few different profiles and temperature ranges.


I didn't realize it came in different temp ranges, the only use I know about is defrosting or keeping from freezing.... I want something a bit warmer. I want hot enough for good heat transfer (temp grad), but low temp enough not to burn the air/dust it contacts. 140F is hot enough not to help fungal growth.... also hot enough to hurt if touched. Somewhere between 120 and 140F I would guess.


as far as what to use as a radiator, I would think it would just have to conduct heat well.  wood doesn't do that, though I imagine exceptionally dense species are a little better conductors.


The wood would have to be quite thin to work. In the end it might be a fire hazard. I think the artistic ceramic tiles would be nice.


  and to get the advantage of the extra surface area of a flat radiator, the broad side should be facing the folks that need heating.  a table could sort of work for that, but I think a floor or wall would work better.  and either of those would be more work.


The thing I don't like about the floor.... it heats the feet but not the head... or even back and thighs if you are sitting down. Also, you just want to do a smaller area, people who are standing and walking around will feel warmer already, those who sit still will feel cool first. I think there is a right size, not too big or too small. Bigger catches you from more directions, but too big and you may as well heat the air, because it will use just as much energy.

Using a wall has the problem of placement. Normal living room is couch on one side, and entertainment center on the other. The heat wall can't be behind the couch as it will just heat the head.... it can't be behind the entertainment center as radiation is LOS (line of site). Sides might work.... it would have to be built in (I was trying to avoid that) and reconfigurable depending on where the furniture happens to be placed so as not to use too much power heating the back of furniture.

The better solution would be the roof. A hot patch right above where people sit.... again, it would have to be reconfigurable not to use too much power heating parts of the room where people are not.

The more I think about it the more fun the design gets.


the other question I've been thinking about is if there are materials that don't conduct heat, but are transparent to infrared radiation.  a material like that could be used to insulate a radiator from the air while still allowing it to heat folks.  maybe such a thing is science fiction, or maybe it's really common and cheap.  I sure don't know.


I was thinking glass, but it's not. It looks like there are different materials for different parts of the IR spectrum. Actually, glass does transmit higher frequency IR (closer to light) but not lower frequency. That is how solar panels work. I think most heating elements are too low freq.... light bulbs are the exception... but then who wants a bright light in their eyes while watching the TV?
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
tel jetson wrote:
variable electricity rates might make thermal mass worthwhile even using electric heat.  peak time rates are frequently quite a bit higher.  so if the electricity is used when it's cheaper to make and store heat, it might be possible to shave a few more bucks off the bill.  whether it's worth the effort I don't know.  that would depend on several variables.  and the mass could be useful to moderate summer temperatures, too.


Yes, I can see that. We don't have variable rates here. The problem with lots of mass is that the floor has to be able to carry it. Mass heaters often require their own beefy foundation. This is part of the very high cost of masonry heaters. I was trying to avoid that.

Also, hydro does cost more here than gas, but my heating bill is still less on hydro because I can turn it off in unused rooms. So heating a room or chunk of Mass when we are not using the room seems counter productive to me even if the power was then cheaper. Insulating it while the room was not occupied would help, but not be as easy.... Or it would be easy... to forget. Automation is great for things like this... what I didn't mention in the first post is that I would have a timer thermostat controlling the whole thing... not only would it turn it off when the room was unlikely to be occupied, but also when the air temp got high enough that the added radiation would feel too hot (summer time or whatever), hopefully a lot lower than 70F... it would take experimentation. Probably the best thing would be to have the temp of the radiator decrease as the air temp increased... So at air temp of 40F the radiator would be full on (140 to 160F) and by the time the air temp got to 60F the radiator would be down to 110F or something.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3096
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
Len wrote:I was thinking glass, but it's not. It looks like there are different materials for different parts of the IR spectrum. Actually, glass does transmit higher frequency IR (closer to light) but not lower frequency. That is how solar panels work. I think most heating elements are too low freq.... light bulbs are the exception... but then who wants a bright light in their eyes while watching the TV?


just thought of an extremely expensive and unsuitable solution: a vacuum.  heat won't conduct across it, but radiation will easily pass through.  also extremely expensive and unsuitable: aerogels.
Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
I've tried some experiments at the start of the heating season, too.
I live in central Wisconsin, right now, in a 3 year old, well insulated single wide mobile home with a concrete block skirting (well sealed but not insulated).

I've known about heat lamps for a while, but never considered what they could do.
I'm sold.  They are a miracle.

This home has propane heat.  I'm not even using it anymore and don't plan to ever go back to gas, of any kind.    I started out in August with 40% in the tank.  Its now February and there is still  32%.  I haven't used any gas for at least a month.

I tried the heat lamp under the desk and spot heating, and it works.  The prob. with the lamp, of course is the intense light.  They do an excellent job of heating efficiently.


Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
so I'm heating 300 sq. ft of the home to 70-75 degrees. another to about 50 degrees, and the rest no heat provided.

My secret.  a home made design, just about anyone could do.  Cost me just about nothing to build.  I estimate that I'm getting 30% to 50% more heat from this than a standard heater, set at the same wattage.

Consider that the heater in the pic is 500 watts.  I have 3 of these.  2 in the 70 degree space and one in the 50 degree space.  One of the heaters in the 70 degree space has a thermostat and tends to cycle. 

Now, when I started, Novemberish, It took a 1500 watt standard forced air heater, 120 volt, running all the time to heat the space.  ...


[Thumbnail for Picture 021.jpg]

Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
I've had days when it was 18 below, recently.  It works great. 
It doesn't make any noise, its a managable size (about 24" tall), there is no disturbance of the air with a sudden burst of heat, and it doesn't burn the air.  The humidity has been pretty consistant at 40 percent, without a humidifier. 

When you tie this together with time of use metering ($.06 most of the time except 3 hours per week day at $.26) and simple lamp timers and it is incredible how affordable it is.  For the month of December my electric bill was $116.  That includes everything, heat, hot water, cooking, water pumping, and general electric use.  I have no other heat source in use. 

Again the design makes the most of the heat while trapping the light inside, or most of it. The base is cool to the touch.  so cool that one can use plastic sockets for the bulbs.  The upper part is hot to the touch.  In fact, if one were to build I would suggest putting ...


[Thumbnail for Picture 158.jpg]

Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
some type of, like chicken wire suspended an inch out so that kids or pets couldn't touch the upper parts. 


Its made with simple sheet metal.  I used cookie tins on the ends.  One could also use 6" pre-made heating ducts.  I used a 1x4 wood frame on the bottom to raise the parts off the floor and allow air to enter the bottoms.  The 3" aluminum ducting on top is there to catch the light.  I'm thinking I could have also used a larger cookie tin, upside down and suspended an inch or so, on top. 

The only thing I bought were a few sockets (.50 at Habitat restore) and the bulbs (3.50).
I took the thermostat and cord from an old heater.  It uses 500 watts.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I had been posting in here a sort of log of my winter experiment.

I have to say that there has been pretty much nothing else to report that hasn't already been reported.

I had folks come by a few times and I explained that in this experiment, their comfort was the most important thing.  A couple of times, the 300 watt radiant heater was fired up.  But we've had some warmer weather, so it was often 60 inside - so everybody was comfortable enough.

One time I started to get cold and realized "oh yeah, I turned the keyboard heater off - duh."

We did have a cold snap for a while, so I turned the fan on for the pipes. 

I'm hoping that when I get the next power bill I can make the claim that I cut the electric heating bill by 90%, by heating myself instead of the whole house. 
                          


Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 31
playing catch-up again ...

the ballast is a transformer and would kill the spikes... the electronic ballast of the CFL would probably not like those spikes caused by a dimmer at half shutting off the current....


Very true that conventional flourescent light ballast transformers and standard CFL built-in ballast transformers are NOT happy campers when powered by a 'chopped up' waveform from an electronic ( TRIAC / SCR ) light dimmer.  Fortunately, a couple of CFL suppliers now sell CFL's with built-in harmonic suppression that can be used with electronic light dimmers.  I have used six of these 'dimmable' CFL's in my bathroom for about 2 years now with no problems.  They are basically dimmable from 100% down to perhaps 25% ... at which point they cut out.  This compares to incandescents that are dimmable all the way down to 0%.  The harmonic supression also prevents the audible 'buzz' you would always hear from conventional ballast transformers fed by electronic dimmers.


On the subject of 'oddball' sized heating elements, I faced this one when trying to build a heated doghouse that I wanted to keep above freezing in the dead of winter ... but for pet safety and fire safety reasons I didn't want the heating element temperature to rise above 200 F or so at the surface.  I wound up buying a couple of 250 watt rated tubular power resistors out of Allied Electronics ( for about $5 ), and specified the ohm value so that they would run at about 125 watts each ( half rating ) at 120 volts ( ohms law 120^2 / 125 = 100 ohms nearest standard value).  Add a dirt cheap electric heat thermostat inside the doghouse and happy puppy !   



Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
for keeping pets warm in their dog homes, heat lamp bulbs are an option.  The problem is that a bare bulb can be a fire hazard and the light emitted is harmful to the eyes.

Try just one of the can styled lights, as I posted earlier.  It greatly reduces the light emiitted to less than that of  a night light.  make sure there is chicken wire, or similar, suspended out away from the metal at least an inch so heat can circulate. 

If you are trying to merely keep it from freezing.  Try a Thermocube.  These controller devices turn on the item when it gets to 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees. 
I'm using 2 of these myself.  I live in Wisconsin, so freezing weather.  The well pump is above ground in an unheated building.  I surrounded the pump with 1" foam board, am using a bare 250 watt heat lamp, and one of these controllers.    I also have an electronic thermometer in there so I can keep track of the temp.  It works great.  The bulb comes on mainly at night, usually for about 15-20 minutes at a time, once an hour or so. ..



[Thumbnail for thermo cube 1.jpg]

[Thumbnail for thermo_cube 2.jpg]

Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
I'm also using one under my home for the 20' of heat tape, and pipe insulated, water pipe connecting the home to the pipe coming up from the ground.  When I moved in the heat tape was there WITHOUT any controller, meaning it was on all the time. 
It was dangerous, expensive to run, and actually heated the water.  It was strange because When I turned on the cold water, it was actually coming out warm-hot.  So I figured out what was going on and installed one of these.  No more problem.

They cost about $12.  They would also work for pond and birdbath heaters, though they need to be kept dry.

Good luck.
Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
erikgreen,

Thanks for the pics of your diy heater.

I am making one tomorrow, my wife will thank you.
Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
more pics in constructing this heater.  I need to name it.  I'm thinking of making a video with all the pics.

Rough frame from 1x4s.  Need feet to stabilize these relatively light weight structure.

wiring underneathe.  Make sure wires are secured so they can't rub against any sharp edges. 
Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
pics didn't go through first time.


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Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
finished wiring with thermostate.  make sure all wirind connections are properly made, sealed and protected.

Make sure to be careful handling sheet metal. watch for sharp edges. 

Upper light plate,  approx. shape with tabs for attaching.  Allow space all around edge so air can circulate.


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Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
light plate installed in finished cyclinder.  This is the part that gets the hottest.  Air needs to cross it to carry the heat out.  This gets installed on a slant.  Use common sheet metal that you would find used for heat ducts.

light socket light baffle with folded edges (use a needle nose).  Again, this needs not touch the outside walls as air needs to flow upwards.  The plate needs to be suspended above the socket so air can flow upward, over socket and over bulb while preventing light from exiting the bottom.  It is suspended with some type of wires to keep it from moving around and being a safty issue.


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Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
lower light baffles installed with wires to hold in place.

bending the metal for the outside.  I used metal left over from a metal roofing project.  You can also use preshaped 6", 7", or 8", sheet metal ducting.  That would be the easiest.  You can also buy end caps instead of using cookie tins. 
Make sure that when everything is put together, NOTHING touches the bulbs.
 
The socket needs to be level and centered so that when bulb is installed it won't touch the sides, any baffles, or be bumped or punctured by any of the screws.  Any of these will cause bulb failure. 

Good luck.

If you are looking to get off grid, truly off grid and be ECO-friendly (not using gas or burning anything), this will certainly lead you there.

500 watts, per heater, is not impossible for a photovoltaic solar system. 


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here is the thermo cube at amazon:

thermo cube

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
37(A)/41(B)/3(outside)

I turned my thermostat all the way down. And this makes it really cold at my desk.  Gonna see if I can stay feeling comfy at this cold.

I have a fan blowing on my pipes, so I think they are quite safe at 50 degrees.

I have bare feet (at 37 degrees!) but they sit on the dog bed heater, under the kotatsu - so they feel warm. 

I think the only part of me that I think might get cold today is my nose.  So maybe I'll fire up a reptile heater for that.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My nose did start to get cold.  I turned on both reptile heaters.
Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
Paul you are dedicated to this experiment!  Knock that electric bill on its behind!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I just uploaded a podcast about my efforts in this space:  http://paulwheaton12.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/heat-yourself-and-not-the-whole-house-and-save-80-on-heat/

Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
I just uploaded a podcast about my efforts in this space:  http://paulwheaton12.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/heat-yourself-and-not-the-whole-house-and-save-80-on-heat/


Thanks. Even with high bandwidth inet I found it better to download the file and listen. I am sure this is not something you could fix as I find I have to do something similar for lots of things.... funny thing is that it seems to take a lot less than an hour to download, but stops and starts when streaming. Just have to remember to delete it afterwards so as not to fill up my drive with a lot of one use files.
Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
Paul,

Do you have the instructions for heating with dried gerbils?  That was pretty funny.
 
 
subject: making the best of electric heat
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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