David M's posts

Posted by David M on Mar 21, 2007 05:40 pm

#1 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Supplemental Energy Source
Solar heating will work just about anywhere, but whether it is the most viable solution to your problem is a more difficult question to answer. This depends on many factors, such has how many cloudy days you have in the winter, the cost of your current heat source and what other alternatives may be available to you.

If you answer/research some of these details, along with details of your current insulation, we can get closer to a sound answer. Meanwhile, I'll bet dollars to donuts that conservation measures like better insulation, better weatherstripping and better window coverings will be a more viable investment.

For more details on possible energy investments, see my blog.

Energy Guru

Posted by David M on Mar 20, 2007 12:25 am

#2 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Storing Heat!
In general, I agree that if you have a concrete slab it can be a good place to store energy. You also mention building block by block, so I assume you are using concrete block, again a pretty good storage medium.

The only problems are whether these are well insulated and whether you can control the use of the heat. Because of this, there are advantages to having the storage separate where you can insulate better and control when the energy is used. And, virtually any mass would work. Concrete would certainly work, but why use some thing so expensive? Gravel, or even soil can be used and would be much cheaper.

Then, the same storage could be used for hot water and heating. I agree with the others that it makes sense to use the system for hot water as well. Unless the water is stored above ground it is unlikely it will be warm enough for bathing, let alone for dishwashing, etc. Besides, you will have lots of surplus energy in the summer.

I don't know if you plan on air conditioning, but if so you could use the same system for this by running it at night when you can radiate heat into the cool sky. Or, if this is not enough cooling in your location, it is possible to cool using solar heat. Again, the same mass could be used to store cooling.

For more details, see my blog at


Posted by David M on Mar 19, 2007 11:24 am

#3 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Infrared heater
I don't own an infrared heater, but they will work. The key to their efficiency is that they create infrared radiation which warms the people or objects in a room without warming the room. The effect is similar to standing in the sun on a cool day. The radiation from the sun warms you and makes it feel as if it is much warmer than the actual air temperature.

The main problem is that you have to be in an area which is exposed to the rays to feel the effect. Again, same as the sun..the sun could be shining, but if you are in the shade, where it's rays do not strike you, you will not be warmed.

But, if you want to feel warm in a specific room without warming the house, an infrared heater installed in that room will certainly be more efficient than heating the house.

If you want to find a heater of this type and more information about how they work, just enter Infrared Heaters in Google and you'll get dozens of suppliers.

Energy Guru


Posted by David M on Mar 10, 2007 11:33 am

#4 -  AltE > Discussion > Re: Harnessing the Jamaican sun
Winston, looks like your query is not getting much response, so let me see if I can help. I spent 6 years in Trinidad doing engineering and project work, so I have a bit of experience in the Caribbean.

First, a few questions:
1. Does Jamaica have net metering, ie, can you sell your power back to the power company? This is an important consideration, since batteries will be a significant issue otherwise.
2. What is the power going for? I know chicken farms use a lot of lighting, but that seems like a lot of juice. I'd be willing to bet that more efficient lighting and/or equipment is a better investment, both in terms of economics and effect on energy use.
3. If you really want to go with an alternative energy source, have you considered wind power? My experience is that in most cases wind power is a better alternative than photovoltaics, particularly in an area with good trade winds.

The good news is that between possible inefficiencies and the high cost of power in your location, it seems very likely you can make some very attractive investments in reducing your energy use.

For general discussion on alternative energy sources, you can go to my blog at:


Energy Guru

Posted by David M on Mar 7, 2007 05:36 pm

#5 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: hydro-powered turbine
One other point...presumably your refrigerator and freezer will use a significant amount of propane, or electricity (I'm a bit confused about whether you are using propane or electricity for this purpose). Either way, at your lattitude, a refrigerator/freezer built into the cold ground should be able to supply all your refrigeration needs with no use of power.


Posted by David M on Mar 7, 2007 05:27 pm

#6 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: hydro-powered turbine
Ken, Maureen,

I happened upon your discussion, and am intrigued by the great questions and discussions. I had a few thoughts I didn't see addressed, although they may already be obvious.

The conservation mentioned, ie insulation, is great, but it has little effect on your hydro system since the heating system is wood fired. For the hydro system, the lighting and appliances are more important. Presumably you are using high efficiency flourscent lights and ultra-high efficiency appliances?

Also, since batteries are an issue, I wonder if water storage at the higher elevations is possible. This would have to be significant size, but if the terrain and soils allow, a bulldozer can make a pretty nice pond pretty cheaply. This could eliminate a significant battery need.

Also, you mention using propane for hot water heating. This could fairly easily be integrated into the wood heat or waste heat from the generator, saving a lot of propane.



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