And now, for an adventure with some of our high-tech toys.
This is the control panel for the heat exchanger. It was 0 degrees outside this morning, as shown above. You can also see, by the curve of that arrow inside the outline of a house, that the system is not taking in outside air; it’s re-circulating it instead.
This is the thermometer on the woodstove’s stovepipe, this morning. It is so cold, that the gauge is so far over to the right that it’s reading as though it’s shatteringly hot. Don’t be fooled. Cold, cold, cold.
It warmed up during the day, but didn’t break the freeze line. I think it got up to 25 or so. It was, however, SUNNY! Yay! So later on, in the afternoon, I went down to the basement to see how the solar panels were doing. I used our handy-dandy contractor’s lamp to shed some light on the situation…
Here we see that the temperature at the collectors (“COL”) is 68.5, and falling fast. (I took another picture not more than a second later, and it had dropped .2 of a degree.)
But, AHA, even on a cold day, the sun still does its magic. The temperature at the bottom of the water tank (“TST” for “tank storage temperature”, I think) is a whopping 133.3 degrees. That’s plenty, plenty hot.
(A refresher: the solar panels heat the water at the bottom of the tank…the boiler heats the water at the top of the tank.) Speaking of the water at the top of the tank, let’s go have a look at that. The thermometer for that is on the water tank itself:
This is great: see, the boiler, which heats water both for the baseboard heating, and for domestic hot water, is on a timer. It’ll do its job for the baseboard heating whenever it’s asked to by the various thermostats around the house. But for heating domestic hot water, it only goes on first thing in the morning for a couple or three hours, and then again around dinner time for maybe three or four hours. That way we have hot water for cooking and clean up.
The gauge above is telling us that the water temperature at the top of the water tank is 120 degrees, many hours after the boiler’s been quiescent. This is because the heat from the super-hot solar-heated water at the bottom of the tank has risen, heating the water at the top of the tank. (I know from experience that on a cloudy day, with no solar activity at the panels, by the middle of the day, this would be down to 100 or so.)
So far, the one impact of how this is all set up, on our lifestyle is that on a cloudy day, if we run a load of hot water laundry during the day, we’ll have no hot water left in the middle of the afternoon. At 6:00 pm, the boiler will click on, giving us hot water in short order. I’ve only regretted this one time – a day I wasn’t feeling particularly great and decided a hot soak in the tub before dinner was what I needed. On that occasion, I just did a manual override on the timer, waited 20 minutes, and had my soak.
Did you enjoy the tour? Are you ready for a kitty picture?
“She’s looking at us! She’s taking our picture! We’re supposed to look at the camera!” (Charlie resolutely fixes his gaze elsewhere.)
(Charlie finally gets with the program.)
MAGGIE and CHARLIE in unison: