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David Baillie

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since Jan 07, 2016
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Builder, tinkered, gardener, charcoal gasification enthusiast.
North central Ontario
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Recent posts by David Baillie

Cissy Vaughn wrote:Hi, I'm from Memphis and want to build a year round Cabin in either VT, NH, or ME.  
It's blown my mind how deep their frost line is! It's also news to me that NH is know as 'the granite state'!!!
So, since this is W AAAA Y different than the south... What about innovations over the years?

1.) Do water lines have to be dug and laid below the frost line?

2.) What about the septic leach field-- is it also 6' under?

3.) Any new ways and materials that will enable me to build this cabin myself in SW VT (Wilmington) with just
light weight rental equipment from home depot?

I'm a 60 year old woman, I can't pick axe my way through rock 6' down!


First off way to go!
I can only answer you from equally cold equally deep frosted central Ontario but basically it depends on your municipality and code. If you can dig on your site then yes you try to get water line bellow frost line. If you cannot 2" of foam 1 foot out on each side of the pipe is equivalent to 1ft of frost line depth. If you cant do that you use insulated well pipe line in a big O pipe with a heat line in it. Your septic bed is usually only 2 ft down or so the heat from the decomposing poo keeps the tank liquid. Adding foam above the pipe from the house to the tank is a good idea though. So much more...
keep posting!
3 days ago
HI Kevin,
Those boxed systems with the lithium packs are designed around portability for which you will pay a hefty price for the capacity they can deliver. Lithium batteries go for 3-4 times the cost of lead acid for the same capacity.  The solar panels they sell to go with their packs are also about 3 times as expensive as regular panels. For your situation I would steer you towards using a propane burner for cooking, a small fridge, an agm battery pack a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter with charger, some safety disconnects and 350 - 700 watts of solar. Price wise with solar would be more then a base bluetti and less than a lykan with a lot better room to grow. Using a base system like that you will have to incorporate a generator element into the system but for 3 hour stretches only depending on your actual usage it can be for winters only with the occasional run in spring or fall. If you could be regimented about when you run a generator you could even incorporate that electric hotplate.  It all depends on you and how well you use the system. I do sell gear and design systems and I'm in Ontario if you want to chat. I sent you a purple moosage
Cheers,  David
4 days ago
A full week of cold weather now. Current temperature is  -7C ( 19.4f) We have not gone above -3 (26.6) all week. Including the mechanical room which is kept at room temperature we are heating 2450 sq ft. Weekly energy required to heat to 21 degrees celcius(70f) was 73.3Kw Hr or 10.47Kw Hrs per day. (To simplify things I'm using the energy consumed by the Heat pump not the heat it produces which changes as the air temperature changes. If we were using baseboards or the electric backup in the furnace it would be 2 or 3 times more electricity.) So,  as an equivalency a watt is 3.41BTU or 3410BTU per KwHr so total BTU per day was 35702.7. Now Wood dried to 20 percent humidity is estimated to have between 6500 and 7500 BTU per Lb. Assuming the crummiest wood and a 70 percent efficiency stove that works out to 7.847lbs of wood per day... That number is the main reason we do not heat with wood. It simply was not worth the investment and insurance hit to install a wood stove. Now it will get colder here so I am looking forward to how high that number goes as the winter progresses. The plan so far is a 14 Kw solar array and where I live I can only expect 1.5 hrs of full production in mid winter from the array. The system will be net metered so i should have plenty of accumulated credits from the summer but I would like to be close to parity in winter as well in case of a power outage.
6 days ago
you really should include an air to air heat pump furnace option. You have mini splits listed are they more common in Montana then air to air whole house heat pumps?
1 week ago

thomas rubino wrote:Hi David;
Very impressive stuff!
And definitely a great example of how new houses can be built super efficiently and more self-reliant.
Way beyond my 100-year-old cabin with a vintage 12vt solar/hydro system.
I'm sure there will be others with your tech-savvy level who will understand your numbers better than I care to.
So for the other non-tech dinosaurs out there like myself.
Perhaps you can post the occasional dumbed-down synopsis of your results?

Thomas, as much as from time to time we disagree I do truly respect you and your experiences. I'll try to provide some analogies going forward.
1 week ago
HI, We've recently completed our new house. Its a full ICF build in central Ontario with triple pane windows, air to air heat pump double insulated slabs and roughly 2000 sq ft of finished space. I find it big for the four of us and Its a high tech solution for sure but I build and these are the types of build people ask me about. It looks conventional but outperforms the norm significantly.  I design and sell energy systems as well so I decided to use the house as an example and monitor its energy use over the winter before sizing and installing the solar array. You can always just use the numbers off your energy bill but you cannot dive into the main users of power that way.  So I purchased an emporia energy monitor and installed it in our panel. Not an easy process but you get great detail. Is there anyone else out there monitoring closely? We talk a lot about energy here but I rarely see numbers just anecdotal reports. So, I'm putting myself out there; I'm screen shotting the daily feed (from midnight to now) and the month to date. I'll update as the month ends and monthly. I'd love to hear feedback what people think and monitoring solutions they are using. My own surprise was how much of our energy total was going to hot water. In hind site I might have invested in a heatpump driven hot water heater. The inverter system I'll be installing can divert excess solar to house loads so ill be looking into that for sure.

Cheers, David Baillie
1 week ago

Robert Harsell wrote:What should be the temperature of the outer wall of a stainless steel triple wall woodstove chimney?

From past experience warm to the touch but not hot. It would depend on air temperature. Sometimes right at the joint between two sections it will feel warmer.
1 week ago

Dan Fish wrote:It's a hijacker! Do what he says and no one will get hurt!

What about double wall? Any idea how hot?

What about single wall about 8ft up above a woodstove? Hot enough to burn bare lumber if there is nothing but the flashing between the wood and the chimney?

I am building a little shed and I have a little old woodstove I kinda want to put in it. Just curious if I REALLY need walled pipe. There is no insulation or anything... And yes, I know the "right answer" hahaha

if you are prepared to have creasote buildup, risk a chimney fire, and waste half your wood keeping a chimney hot so it will vent properly you you can use single wall pipe...
1 week ago

Jeremy VanGelder wrote:It's that time of year when relatives start to ask what I want for Christmas. I am pretty content with what I have right now. But there is a project I have been wanting to start but haven't put any money into yet. I would like to set up a 12 volt solar system to charge my cordless drill batteries. That way, when the power goes out, I will still have torque at the pull of a trigger.

It would be built around the Dewalt DCB119 20 volt car charger. Just one for now, they are spendy. It looks like that could be driven by a 20 watt 12 volt solar panel. I think my batteries are 1 amp hour. 1 amp hour x 20 volts = 20 amp hours. But the charger is probably trading amperage to step of the voltage. So it would probably take more than an hour to charge on that kind of power supply. Maybe up to two hours? I think that would be acceptable. This would be a very bare-bones charging system. If it works, I have the option of scaling it up in the future.

My family's shop is scheduled for some major repairs next summer. If I build a small system that works, maybe we will build in a 100 watt panel just dedicated to charging the cordless tools.

Jeremy I've found the 12 volt chargers less than impressive in the past. I prefer the much cheaper and better route of using my plug in chargers and a pure sine small inverter.
You will have to choose one. Use the car as your 12 volt source, get a 12 volt splitter for the accessory plug and directly plug in a solar panel trickle charger. You could also add a small 12 volt battery with the savings. The battery makes the system much more versatile for about the same money as the single function in car charger...

Cheers, David
1 week ago

Justin Hadden wrote:

John C Daley wrote:
I think your original statement may be incorrect, but I have seen similar laws around the world for cleaner burning units.

Its a long read, but if you skip down to page 40 and start reading there, it says "after 2030, all space and water heating appliances sold and installed in BC will be 100% efficient."

So you have to read between the lines, no combustions technology, whether wood, pellet, or gas can ever acheive 100% efficiency. The only truly 100% efficient systems are electric. Electric resistance heat converts 100% of its input energy into heat. Its a terribly difficult way to heat a space, but on paper i guess to them it looks good. The other funny thing is if you were to trace back all the way to the power plant (which is combustion technogy) then its probably even a less efficient process to heat my home electrically then it would be to simply have a wood stove in my home.

If you contjnue reading i believe on page 42 it talks about giving labels to everyones homes and giving it a carbon footprint rating for sales purposes. Meaning if some career political wannabe in a suit decides he doesnt like the way my household heats or cools or whatever they can give me a rating that will seriously affect my sales price.

Unfortunately with these things the government will hide the agenda deep in the text, i suspect as a way to avoid pushback. That seems to me to be exactly whatthe government of British Columbia are doing. Bury it in a massive document, and then most people will be taken by surprise by the time it comes to pass.

HI Justin,
the move as I understand it even in BC is towards "primary" heat. I highlighted the paragraph just before the one about 100 percent efficiency...

Space and water heating are the primary drivers of GHG emissions from buildings. To meet our targets,
we need to ensure these functions are super-efficient, improve resilience and, wherever possible, run
on clean electricity or other renewable fuels.

Wood according to that definition is "other renewable fuel" . I admit wood rarely gets talked about in urban drawn up planning documents.
Anyways, dangerously close to the cider press...
Cheers, David
2 weeks ago