Heating News – Jan 2017

Heating News 2017

2016 has been pretty uneventful on the heating front. Home automation is probably the main game changer and, if you really want to, you can now literally shout at your heating from near or far.  In fact you can shout at many inanimate objects from now on, not just computers which many of us have been shouting at for years.

Prices for heat banks and stoves remain unchanged and transport to Europe still runs monthly. No Brexit issues here, so do get in touch if you need any help.

Eco heating system

Ultimate Eco-heating system

Ultimate Eco-heating system

My ultimate twin tank system has been designed and launched and it can be viewed in detail on this site.  While a single heat bank provides an excellent way to integrate just about any heat sources you care to throw at it, there was scope for improvement when it came to dealing with heat pumps.  The twin tank solution not only addresses all their shortcomings – high flow and lower temperatures – but most of the other heat sources are enhanced in the way they operate.  In particular the solar stripper circuit kicks panel performance up significantly, allowing much bigger arrays to run all year round.  For anyone in need of the ultimate high powered eco-heating system this is it.

Dream House  Down to the details

Just launched on Kindle for £2.45 this is essential reading for anyone improving, building or restoring a house. Actually it makes an entertaining read for anyone who just needs a stir to the imagination. There are well over 100 tips, tricks and tweaks to enjoy but also to serve as a checklist for some of the less obvious tasks on plumbing, wiring and, of course, heating strategy and the changing face of energy management.  Many suggestions could save significant amounts of your hard earned cash as it costs much more to fix things after the main jobs are done and all the workforce has moved on.  So don’t miss out, get it downloaded and start reading.  There are lots of colour pictures and diagrams so it reads best of all on the Kindle app on a PC, a Kindle Fire, even a phone.

PV electric car charger garage

Sun tracker garage

Sun tracker garage

You can find a full description and picture of this here https://originaltwist.com/2016/02/29/electric-and-hydrogen-car-charger/   Think of a garage shaped like a huge fat slice of Edam cheese where the red bits become PV panels and you have the idea.  PV panels like to track the sun so the whole thing is on a turntable to improve performance by over 20%.  The garage can fit into a tight space because it will turn your car all the way round with no reversing needed.  O.K. I know it seems a bit far fetched but I see no technical impediments and if it has an Airbnb pod on top earning £80 a night you might grow to love it.  Any machine that gets paid to fuel up a virtually maintenance free car and earns some £12,000 on top has to be lovable; doesn’t it?

Cheap LED bulbs

I took my own advice and continued to buy LED bulbs from http://www.trillion.co.uk on a deliberate replacement program without particularly waiting for old bulb failures. Now the house is almost entirely LED lit so I will start to compare monthly bills as the year goes on.  I continue to be impressed with the quality and price of these bulbs and I love the abrupt halt to the tedious bulb replacement jobs of the past.  How about you?

Automated electric kettle

The £4 time switch from Amazon, on the plug of a standard electric kettle, has worked fine for a year. As long as the kettle is filled and the switch set to auto, the kettle clicks into life in the early morning and at tea time. It’s a small idea but I just love it, especially on cold Winter mornings when an extra few minutes in bed are so welcome.

Hot water for campers

A friend has a remote shed in the country and wanted a cheap hot water system for washing up and showering; something better than the cold water hose on site.

The final solution has come off the back of the envelope and is up and running.

It has 3 basic components.

1/. A feed and expansion tank with a ball cock (actually a lavatory cistern) is hauled up into a tree to give good water pressure and provide an open vented feed to the tank below.

2/.A steel drum standing on end over a brick fire box with a crude chimney at the back. Cold water is fed to the bottom of the drum via a pipe (from a defunct drum pump) fitted via the large port on the top. Hot water is drawn off the smaller 1” port at the top of the tank.

3/. The feed from the drum could be boiling hot so a temperature limiting valve blends in cold water to make it all safe. It is neatly screwed directly onto the 1” port on the drum and the blended water then connects to a hose pipe which supplies a tap and a shower in the woods.

So there we are; a cheap but very workable solution for shed owners looking for home comforts.

N.B. If you are making the firebox make a ledge some way up for a grill tray. Then you can have a barbie and have hot water to wash up with later.

Solar panels for Italians

I like to thank my clients in Italy with a pretty amazing deal on a big solar panel kit. 3 panels, a pump-station with controller and all the fluids for just €2,000 + IVA.  Every incentive to become a client in 2017 and get your heating issues sorted.  English clients can also benefit although transport costs make it less attractive.

Zero gas – nearly

You may have heard it all before – heat banks, solar and stoves – and wondered if it all really works.  Well, to reinforce the point let me say that as our LPG gas tank was lasting 7 years between refills we had it removed and now use small gas bottles. Used mainly for cooking and just occasional gas boiler use the bottles last for months rather than weeks and it is easy enough to swap them over at the ferramenta 3 or 4 times a year.  This would only be possible with a properly engineered wood and solar system.  If you spend over €1,200 for a year’s hot water and heating in your Italian house it might be time for a strategic review.

Wishing you all a very happy and warm 2017

Patrick Littlehales


Electric and hydrogen car charger

Sun tracker garage

Sun tracker garage

A garage with office space above is a common theme.  The Original Twist version goes a few steps further with 6.6kWp of solar panels which constantly face the sun as the whole garage slowly rotates. Photovoltaic arrays perform some 20% better if they track the sun so the 22 panels perform as well as 26 static ones. 4 extra panels would cost £1,000 so tracking is worthwhile and of course it adds to the FITs return.

A conventional array would have problems with the varying inputs across the panels but here each panel has its own micro-inverter which also enhances reliability and the performance reporting via wi-fi is fabulous.

The rotation does more than just sun tracking though.  With garage doors on both sides your car will be turned round and ready to be driven away again; a bonus feature where space is at a premium.

The height required by the PV panels gives room for a live/work space above. The space could be used as an office or even as an AirBnB pod with the added attraction of an ever changing view. Now the garage could not only power your house and charge your car but it could generate extra income in addition to the FITS return.

The garage makes your electricity for your house and electric car but there may be another step to come.  The hydrogen future is well in sight.  The 300W panels together make a 6.6kWp array which is pretty punchy for domestic purposes and would leave a good surplus, even after charging the car.  Power can be allocated for domestic use or for generating hydrogen via a simple electrolysis idea we all saw in the school science lab.  A gadget like the SOLiC 200 makes sure that these demands are prioretised so that the demand of choice gets the first bite of the free power and other choices only run on surplus power.  In this way all hydrogen production could be guaranteed to be free.

To get into the vibe lets have a look at a day in the life of the Original Twist rotary garage.  The car inside is a plug in E.V. with a hydrogen fuel cell range extender. It can autonomously park itself in the garage and automatically connect up to recharge the batteries and top up the hydrogen tank.  The garage rotates to track the sun, of course, but it also turns the car round ready to collect you from your front door all heated and fueled up.  A simple car that fuels itself automatically completely free of charge is certainly compelling.  What future for smelly old petrol?

Everything we have talked about is available right now so this is only made futuristic by the novel assembly of concepts.  It’s certainly not too early to consider building your next garage on a turntable.

While you could start off with a regular plug-in electric car the hydrogen versions will follow shortly. Check out the http://www.riversimple.com web site for a good example.