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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:27 PM
Original message
If you have a house with hot water baseboards and wanted to heat it with
solar, how would you go about doing it? (Maine is very cold in the winters so I am not sure that your standard solar hot water plan would work.)
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newscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. You might have to refloor? You know put those water tubes in the flooring?
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I would love radiant heating, but it's not an option. :^(
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:32 PM
Response to Original message
3. A solar pre-heater seems like the logical approach.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
4. It's not going to be easy in Maine.
About the best you can expect is to be able to preheat the water somewhat before it goes to your boiler. It's expensive, because the water in the collectors has to be kept from freezing. My guess is that it's going to be impossible in any kind of economical way. Then there's snow, which pretty much messes up solar power unless you get up on the roof and clear it.

Check with a solar outfit in your area. Ask them what can be done and how much it would cost. Only someone in your area will have the correct information. It's complicated in cold-winter areas.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Well, they don't send water up to the roof in colder areas, but rather they
use food grade anti-freeze in the tubes. But still, how do you get it warm enough in the winter?

I wonder if adding a PV panel or two and electric hot water on demand system in series would do the trick? That way I'd still get the benefit of the preheated water, although how warm it would be in February I am not sure.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. I doubt you'll get it hot enough with straight solar. It would work in pre-heater mode.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #10
24. .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_collector#Co...

If used for potable purposes, to prevent bacterial infection tanks should be maintained at 60C and then downmixed to 49C to prevent scalding. Assuming a -10C outdoor temp to get 60C in Maine you are looking at evacuated tube panels unless you are just preheating or don't care about firing up a secondary heater for a few weeks in January -- and depending on your water usage you'll need a lot of panels to ride out the winter without a backup heat source.

However, for baseboard heating alone without potable use, you may not need to maintain 60C. You just need to figure out your energy budget.




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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
13. I'm not sure. PV panels don't generally produce a lot of wattage,
and heating water takes a lot. Again, the cost would make the savings not cost-effective, I'm sure. Solar is marginal, anyhow, in terms of cost-effectiveness and payback time. In northern latitudes the low angle of the sun in the sky in the cold months further cuts down on efficiency for PV and thermal collectors.

A far better idea in the North is extreme insulation and elimination of as many heat losses as possible, which minimizes heating costs and the like, along with conversion to high-efficiency lighting, etc. It's possible to cut your energy bills dramatically with those measures, and they're completely passive, so they don't wear out with age. You'll get far more for your dollar with such techniques than with any sort of active solar system.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. We're doing a modular so the insulation is out of my control. :^( These are the specs
INSULATION:
R-38 Cellulose Ceiling Insulation
R-38 Cellulose Ceiling Insulation to knee walls with R-30 between decking on Rafter Roofs
R-30 Insulation Between Kneewalls Standard on Maine Houses Only
R-19 Exterior Wall Insulation (Kraft Faced)
R-11 Basement Stair wall Insulation

If I had a zillion dollars I think I would do a SIP house instead, with all the green things I could possibly do to it. (Maybe in my next life! :D)
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #4
20. Hi MM - people have been doing this in Maine for a while
http://www.solarhouse.com /

http://www.mainesolar.com /

Since Democrats reestablished solar tax credits, I've seen dozens of new solar hot waters systems pop up in my neck of the woods.

:hi:
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Jackpine Radical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. Don't overlook geothermal.
A lot of people around here use it, although the initial installation is rather expensive. You use ground water to heat the place up to about 50 F in the winter & then use the same system to cool it in the summer. I imagine our winters are a little colder than yours, with no moderating sea currents.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. My brother wanted it for his house but yeah it was pretty expensive.
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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
21. You might need some acreage to make geothermal work, though
Something that many city lots are severely lacking in.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
6. Hot water systems are actually ideal
An extra bennie is if the boiler also produces your hot water. Plumbing a solar hot water system into it to augment the boiler in winter will save on heating costs, but the real savings will occur in summer when it supplies nearly all the hot water you need, with the boiler only coming on early in the morning most days.

You'd have to get bids on the job and run the numbers to get your own payback period, but it can be done with a hot water system best of all.

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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:40 PM
Response to Original message
8. How much money you're willing to throw at it is an important parameter.
If you're willing to throw 10-20K, I think a geothermal heat pump system is your winning solution. Supplement it with a solar thermal pre-heater if you want.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Trouble is I can't do the geothermal because of costs. I was looking at solar because
I was hoping it was something that I could every few years when I could afford it add on another panel. (Assuming it can be done that way.)
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I think a solar thermal pre-heater is what you'll be able to do with your budget.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I've found someone in my area who does solar installationas and have sent him
an email. Hopefully he has a good solution like a pre-heater that will fit my budget. :)
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I think that's your best bet. He'll know what is working and what
isn't in your specific area. Good luck with this!
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Lochloosa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
16. Maybe a Passive Water Heater?
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
18. Talk to a certified solar contractor - evacuated tube solar hot water heaters work well in Maine
I know several folks that use them for heat in Maine - but you need a fairly larger array (probably ground-mounted) and storage tanks . My friends use radiant floor heating (and large insulated milk containers from a local dairy for storage) rather than standard baseboard, but there's no reason why you couldn't use basebord radiators.

The Maine Solar House has been using solar hot water panels for heat for many years.

Efficiency Maine has some good deals on solar financing too...
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. I'm waiting on a response from one now. I am pretty sure hubby said he did
up a friend's house with all solar heat. My main question is what is the cost?
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REACTIVATED IN CT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Be sure to ask about leasing
Not sure if its available in ME, but the contractor should know. Here in CT you can lease a 6 kw system for $126 per month

http://www.ctsolarlease.com/info/payments.php
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Wow. I hadn't thought of that.
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