Kenneth Elwell

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since Jan 01, 2018
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urban books building solar rocket stoves ungarbage
Artist/Designer, Maker.
Metalworker, Blacksmith, Machinist, Welder, Woodworker, Builder, Farmer, Composter,
Pie Aficionado.
Boston, Massachusetts
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Recent posts by Kenneth Elwell

Kenneth Elwell wrote:We just received a Breville oven two days ago, and it is still in the box... unboxing this weekend! (Breville Smart Oven Air)
We are hoping that it successfully replaces both our microwave oven and our toaster oven, and possibly the big oven? (we have always been dissatisfied with that oven and the range...old, electric, with the hotplate type "burners"...slow, poor heating, not responsive)
If it is good we're considering ditching the old range/oven for induction hotplates on the countertop, and gaining more lower cabinet space.

The new oven does these things:
13 preset functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Proof, Air-Fry, Dehydrate, Reheat, Warm, Slow Cook.

Once we've had a chance to try it out, I'll give it a review.

Well. Better late than never? A review...
We like this oven.
It seems to bake faster than most instructions state for a food/recipe. This might be the convection, or the small size? I dunno.
It takes a quarter sheet pan (vs. a half sheet in the big oven) so okay for a small batch of cookies, or a tray of brownies. NOT reasonable for "holiday baking" of dozens upon dozens of cookies.
Size seems small for roasting a whole head of cauliflower florets, so either we split it up since one sheet is enough for us both, or we use the big oven.
Pot pies and pizzas have turned out well. Reheating the leftover pot pie for 5mins. (after a brief 2min. microwaving) leaves the crust crisp, not soggy.
It toasts decently, evenly, two slices medium dark is 6 minutes. (only really one side though, but I'm okay with that) I feel like a pop-up toaster is faster, but haven't had one of those in years, so I can't really say.
Air frying French fries in the mesh shelves gets them crispier than in the big oven on a sheet pan. So that's good.
We dehydrated some pineapple, it took a long time (we only had the one mesh shelf at the time, now have 4) results were good. The slices I made were thin and turned out crispy, like chips, a chewier version would have taken less time.
The user interface is easy to use/figure out (I didn't read the whole manual... but setting functions, starting, stopping are all intuitive by turning knobs.)
The crumb tray us easy to access and smooth/featureless surface is easy to clean.
Clearances followed from the manual leave just enough space IN FRONT on a standard 24" deep counter for... a jar of spaghetti sauce? can of soda? (you can't open the door with those there... but ours is beside the fridge, so it IS a landing pad.)

We haven't proofed or baked any bread (not really our thing, but hey, maybe time to start under Corona virus lockdown?) I know that two loaf pans fit at once, since we cook our dog's special diet in them.

The old toaster oven is going away...this weekend...really...

Still need to see if our pizza stone fits.
I've got a salt block that will fit.
We'll be making pies next week...
2 weeks ago
Gilbert, Nice to see the construction shot! It wasn't obvious that there were three tanks, that's great!
Maybe just a duct made from wood strapping and scrap poly sheeting? or thin plywood? Or even a big contractor garbage bag with a hole at the bottom/side?
Agreed the cardboard won't survive long, but maybe long enough to determine if it is the right approach, before investing time and materials... just a short detour on its way to recycling, or mulch...

Ideally that auto-vent won't open if your system captures all the excess heat!
2 weeks ago

Mike Haasl wrote:If you run out of heat before morning, you'd need more water.  If you still have heat in the water in the morning but the greenhouse is too cold, you need to increase your heat delivery.  Thus more gpm and more cfm and hopefully not a bigger radiator.

Or at least I think that's a logical progression.....

Side note, as a test you may be able to put a box fan on the outlet of the radiator and suck air through instead of pushing it.  But you'd still need to remove the inlet box since that would restrict it significantly...

I like the box fan idea, Mike, but the inlet box is necessary to pull from the hottest air at the peak. It could be reworked. The 90* elbow = 10' of straight pipe, flow would improve greatly without that.
Could use a big cardboard box (appliance?) to make the inlet box reach UP to the peak, eliminate the duct all together...
2 weeks ago
Great build! I've been thinking about a system like this for our greenhouse (propane heat).

You've got two different goals: Excess heat to water storage, and stored heat back to the air.
If you think about just the excess heat to storage first, if the fan is underperforming the excess heat will build in the greenhouse as the fan struggles to keep up and/or the pump fails to supply cooler water to absorb it.
Ideally, I think, if thermostatically operated, the system would cycle on/off as excess heat built up and was successfully removed.

Another thing to think about is managing the water temperature(s), and you said you have tanks (looks like two? maybe the one under radiator spills over into the one with pump).

Keeping the hot/warm/cool waters separated, improves the efficiency of the heat exchange, by having the biggest Delta T.
When storing heat, you take the coolest water to the radiator, and return it (heated) to the hot tank, which overflows to a warm tank, and again to the cool tank.
When using heat, you take the hottest water to the radiator, and return it (cooled) to the coolest tank, which overflows to a warm tank, and again to the hot tank.

A home water heater tank does something similar by stratifying the temperatures vertically with fresh/cold water entering the bottom, while hot water exits the top.
This is a case where the system is maximized for one direction, heating domestic hot water. (there actually is no reverse...)

You look like you are doing great with yours, since you have it (if I am seeing it clearly) maximized for heat storage.
2 weeks ago
Ok, cool, I figured you had some practical experience. I'm possibly overthinking it, or trying to solve an unknown problem. Of course it will work if the whole building reaches 85 degrees! So, it has that going for it, which is nice.
2 weeks ago
I just went back and looked at the pics of the interior, not a great shot of GD opening... door position hides framing detail of door header (maybe there isn't, just the truss?). I think my previous comment still applies? Or the added header and studs could go outside (replacing door trim) for the roof framing to attach.
2 weeks ago

paul wheaton wrote:For the sliding glass door on the west side:  is that a support post right there?  I would think that the existing wall would  provide some support and the south side of the solarium would also be a support wall.

I was wondering the same thing a while back when the plan with the row of massive posts debuted. I'm guessing the idea was to make the solarium structure self-supporting?

The existing gable wall of the garage ought to be able to handle the load of the solarium roof. If anyone is worried, the header over the overhead door opening could be strengthened by sistering another 2x (12? it could overlap the studs above) on the inside supported by two 2x4 jack studs at the door frame.

Sliding doors are perfect for use in restricted space, since the swinging space isn't needed. Also better regulation of just how open they are by sliding more or less. (could even be enforced by a small stick in the track to maintain an opening (the opposite of burglar-proofing stick) so that a person won't accidentally pass through and close the door/vent out of habit.) A swinging door is prone to blowing open/shut with a gust of wind.

RE: Mike's auto-vent opener, it works for the hot side, but will the cool side open in sync? or at all? A reed switch on the upper vent could trigger a cold vent damper to be opened... or a solar fan with a shutter. If there was a fan, what about an earth tube to deliver the make-up air?

2 weeks ago
Nicole, I like the versions with the "light rays". I also like the "W filament", It could be bolder , but also not concerned about folks finding it at first glance... those "aha!" moments of discovery can be quite nice. (totally a pun/coincidence given the imagery, but hey. ;-p )
At a small/tiny scale, I think the "glow" makes it muddy. At the scale they show in your post (1 1/2" tall) it is fine.

I've got 4 tabs open: GMail, Craigslist, Permies, and McMaster-Carr. Permies shows the biggest difference between active/non-active tab (using Firefox) when the background toggles between dark (blue?black?) to white, the "P" is legible and recognizable in both modes. Be sure to check both modes, especially if a large portion of logo is same as a tab background color?
Another browser I use colors new tabs based on the tab a link was opened from, so maybe there's that to consider too?

I think the flowers and leaves one is quite busy. I don't think it will scale down well.

Some ideas:
Maybe the light rays could be alternating light rays and flower petals? or leaves? or thunderbolts instead of light rays?
Maybe at the base where you had "W L" there could be two leaves? (thinking of the flower petal/ray design idea)
Maybe from the contact at the base, there could be roots? something simple like 3 "branching roots", similar to/a play upon, an inverted image of the "W" and filament within the bulb.
Not to rain on the parade, but I have had rodents chew through the lids of pails or through the rim of the pail to get inside of compost buckets. I felt bad to have the (free) pails mangled, but felt even worse when it happened to my Gamma Lids.

Some sort of metal container is in order. Use a plastic pail inside, so you can replace with an empty one.
1 month ago
You haven't told us enough about your system.

I can imagine a need for an alarm, if you have the tanks in an interior space without a plan for excess/overflow water. (other than manual shut-off/diversion) This is a brittle solution, since it requires the alarm to work, someone to take action, and to be present to do so. You may also have a liability of a flooded basement? garage?

I'd lean towards some sort of passive design, as Hugo suggests, that can accommodate excess water without trouble or intervention.
Link your tanks together so that they either fill all at once from the bottom, or in a cascade... overflowing from one into the next, without needing to operate a valve (although having valves is a good idea for isolation in case of damage/repairs)

On the other hand, some sort of level indicator could be useful. To know when the tanks are full/low, when/if you might ration your use, or as an aid for noticing a problem (leak/blockage/break in the system).
1 month ago