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My heat pump
My heat pump
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Old 9th February 2018, 01:40 AM   #11
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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I figure I should point out that electric heaters are pretty much 100% efficient in that they turn almost all the electrical energy into heat.
That's true. A heat pump uses electricity to move heat from outside the house to the inside. It will bead the "coat hanger plugged into the wall outlet" as long as there is sufficient heat available outside the house.

A heat pump that pulls heat out of the air obviously has less to work with as it gets colder outside. A larger outside unit will do a better job, but there is a payback involved in replacing the unit. If you are considering replacement, then it is wise to investigate a ground based (geothermal) unit, if your location suits its use. Here it is possible to find 60 degree F areas 50 to 100 feet below the surface. This would make the outside unit more efficient in the winter and summer.

I have also seen some rather unique DIY devices created to add some heat to the outside unit. Most involved a remote outdoor wood burning fire box and heat exchangers made from car radiators, but the days of buying old radiators for $10 are long gone.

Here, propane and other gasses cost about the same if not more than electricity. The you need to recover all the heat energy released by the burning propane. The best DIY contraption I ever saw fed the gas into a small automobile engine mounted outdoors. The exhaust and water jacket heat was recovered and used for home heat. The crankshaft energy spun several automotive alternators creating electricity for light and heat. It has been 30+ years since I saw that, I have no idea it it is an economical alternative today.
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Old 9th February 2018, 02:24 AM   #12
jackinnj is offline jackinnj  United States
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My heat pump
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Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
The best DIY contraption I ever saw fed the gas into a small automobile engine mounted outdoors. The exhaust and water jacket heat was recovered and used for home heat. The crankshaft energy spun several automotive alternators creating electricity for light and heat. It has been 30+ years since I saw that, I have no idea it it is an economical alternative today.
Someone should figure out how to capture the heat+ IR energy of the 100W incandescent which is both illuminating the text and providing warmth to me when it's 22F outside.

The "mound-builders" in SW Ohio knew a thing or two about conserving energy.
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Old 9th February 2018, 02:48 AM   #13
VenusFly is offline VenusFly  Australia
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My heat pump
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Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
The best DIY contraption I ever saw fed the gas into a small automobile engine mounted outdoors. The exhaust and water jacket heat was recovered and used for home heat. The crankshaft energy spun several automotive alternators creating electricity for light and heat. It has been 30+ years since I saw that, I have no idea it it is an economical alternative today.
That would make a half decent method of heating a small cabin if you were roughing it and all you had was ethanol to burn in a small generator. Of course you would want to be using solar the rest of the year but during winter I'm sure its completely possible to be running an ethanol powered 2400w generator and recovering the exhaust heat to heat a small cabin with instead of burning coal or wood.

Thanks for reminding me that this is a possible method of heating. I did see a video on youtube a few years ago where this guy had a large water tank mounted up on a pedestal (to also provide gravity fed hot water) which was fed with a Lister CS Diesel engine and he recovered the waste heat from the exhaust with a water jacket and pumped it around and into the tank.

I mean if he is able to heat a large tank of water with just the exhaust heat from a Lister CS Diesel, the heat from a small 2400w generator should be more than adequate for also filling up a large tank of water for warm or hot showers and or for heating a small cabin.

On the plus side you could also make your own moonshine. Hell why don't more of us live this way.
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Old 9th February 2018, 02:51 AM   #14
Ron E is offline Ron E  United States
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Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
Here, propane and other gasses cost about the same if not more than electricity.
1 Therm = 100000 BTU = 29.3 kW-hr
Costs perhaps $1 as natural gas, and roughly $3-3.50 as electricity.
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Old 9th February 2018, 05:44 AM   #15
globalplayer is offline globalplayer  Germany
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Originally Posted by billshurv View Post
How much power are you going to get in mid winter? I doubt you'll store enough to provide any form of effective heat boost.
Depends on the weather/location and accumulator capacity.
Plus at one time it will have paid for itself and heat will be "free".
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Old 9th February 2018, 12:59 PM   #16
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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Costs perhaps $1 as natural gas, and roughly $3-3.50 as electricity.
Despite the fact that fracking has displaced coal as the primary energy source for this area, there is no piped natural gas to the houses. People have large tanks and need to get them filled regularly in winter. I don't have gas at my house, all heat is electric, so I don't have any personal comparisons.

The church where I'm a trustee uses electricity for primary heat, and truck delivered propane when needed. That is usually when the power goes off or the heat pump is broken (which it is now). The head trustee has been tracking energy costs for two years to justify a new heat pump, and determine the payback of different size and EER rated units. He tells me that propane is about 1.1 X the cost of electric heat for an AVERAGE winter. We are outside the city limits by a few miles, so the cost is not regulated and there are only two companies that deliver here. This winter has NOT been average. There has been a large number of days in the 20 degree F range where the heat pump sucks, causing the "coat hanger" heat strip to run a lot.

The electric bill for my house last month was $622. January last year, $410. Typical summer bill, $100. Propane delivery here runs about $500 to fill a large tank which may last a month during a winter like this one.
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Old 9th February 2018, 01:32 PM   #17
billshurv is offline billshurv  United Kingdom
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My heat pump
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Originally Posted by globalplayer View Post
Depends on the weather/location and accumulator capacity.
Plus at one time it will have paid for itself and heat will be "free".
Yeah, but in winter here, its dark and cold at 4:30pm. A $$$$ tesla powerwall is 13.5kWh. That's touch and go for providing the extra heat even if you have enough PV to charge it in winter. I'd rather spend the money on better insulation OR
-Stove
-new chainsaw
-new safety gear
-bigger axe
-lots left over for music.

But that's just me
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Old 9th February 2018, 01:50 PM   #18
TheGimp is offline TheGimp  United States
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In my last house, I had no heat in the new addition which was half the floor space. I used a wood furnace, and cut firewood for 20 years. Every winter I would get a permit from the nearby Forrest Service Station for something like $10 for six truckloads of wood. Wood could be cut and hauled from clear cut areas in the National Forrest. There was no one counting truckloads.
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Old 9th February 2018, 02:22 PM   #19
w5jag is offline w5jag  United States
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Originally Posted by Ripcord View Post
.... Apparently it has a feature that when it drops below a certain temperature a resistive heat coil turns on automatically to supply additional heat. .... Any ideas? .....
Get a different controller. Our second house uses a heat pump and the thermostat controller has two heat positions - one is for heat pump only, the second engages the electric heat bar. It is an air only unit, meaning when ambient air temps drop much below freezing, there is little heat to exchange. I have found it is considerably less expensive to just let the compressor run and try to exchange whatever heat there is, than to engage the heat strip.

My simple suggestion would be to go down to wal mart, or home depot, or wherever, and get a controller that allows you to control the heat strip activation, and supplement the heat in the rooms where you need it with some of the inexpensive oil filled radiator heaters. They are inexpensive, and work reasonably well.

I have a mix of properties with natural gas and all electric heat. A heat pump is by far the least expensive means of heating. Natural gas feels warmer, but even around here, where there are so many hydrocarbons in the ground that I'm shocked the place doesn't explode when somebody tosses out a cig, gas is relatively expensive.

I have the mineral interests for most of my properties, and properties that I no longer own. It's cheaper than electric, but still a big net loser for me. I wouldn't fool with wood, or pellets, or other survivalist type stuff, personally. There could be insurance issues with stuff like that if it goes south.

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Old 9th February 2018, 02:48 PM   #20
billshurv is offline billshurv  United Kingdom
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My heat pump
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Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post

The electric bill for my house last month was $622. January last year, $410. Typical summer bill, $100. Propane delivery here runs about $500 to fill a large tank which may last a month during a winter like this one.
Ouch. In my teeny hovel in damp but not cold UK $622 is nearly a YEARLY bill for leccy. Half a tank of oil for the heating and all the wood I can scrump does the rest. We will be so ****** if the gulf stream shuts off
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