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Solar Hot Tent

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
A few emails from a fellow Bear about his Hot Box, past threads, along with a need to move a solar fan coil unit (again), conservation slant and my background sparked an idea to combine the two projects into an energy efficient 'Solar Hot Tent'.

One of my fan coil units heats my office from a 300 gallon tank connected to (4) 4 x 10 panels. The other one is connected to the return loop from the tank to the panels and is thermostatically controlled. It runs when the differential controller says there's enough differential in temperature (between tank & panels) to provide power to the pump and the fan coil fan. The thermostat controller and fan speed can be set as desired.

Using a wall mounted set of racks above the unit, I can easily load up skis and snowboards above and enclose in an insulating tent with an exhaust at the top so the heated air will then be utilized as space heat. As with all things solar, temperature swings are a given and one approach is to cook the skis at 'whatever I get temps' and live with it when the suns out and the system is running. Tighter controls is the next, more costly option.

What are the downsides to this approach? Any alternative approaches or tweaks to the basic concept will be appreciated.

Additionally, I'm pondering the benefits of adding a zone and loop to my boiler, mainly to see how it works and pass on findings for those with electric & fossil fuel-fired hydronic systems.

Passive solar hot boxes are also in the back of my mind.

post #2 of 7
I would think the key consideration would be maximum temperature of the skis. Since you will be storing them base up, an infrared thermometer would be useful to monitor base temps. I have toyed with a similar approach in my sunroom. The celing and three walls are all glass. Temperature on a hot summer day reaches 120-122 degF. If I wax skis and put them out there, the temperatures vary widely depending if the skis are in sunlight. If they are in sunlight, thebase temps (black bases) can well exceed 135 degF so I have spent some time determining locations as well as monitoring them.

I'm not really familiar with the setup that you are describing, but if you can monitor the temperature of the enclosure and maybe control it, you should be good. FWIW, you can buy digital thermometers with remote sensors that also show min/max temps for $15. Good luck.
post #3 of 7
Sounds like a plan. I love these kind of ideas that piggyback on something you have to do anyways.

If you are going to get into active control of the temps, learning PID controllers are cheap these days and depending on your solar setup you may have plenty of temp to work with. I'd just add a little bypass to the hot water loop and let a controller do the lifting.

Given that I have a ~3 hour drive to the hill that I still do in my gas burner, I should give some consideration to building one of these. My van already has ~95C water piped to an accessible spot in the back...
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips. q9, if possible you might also consider drawing off the high point of your sunroom with a fan and flex-ducting to your hot box in a more controlled area.
post #5 of 7
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
Thanks for the tips. q9, if possible you might also consider drawing off the high point of your sunroom with a fan and flex-ducting to your hot box in a more controlled area.
Great suggestion from a thermal perspective and one I never thought of. I actually do have a fan at the highpoint in my sunroom and I could theoretically work from there. However, I also have a girlfriend. I truly doubt that she would be supportive of such a design from an aesthetic point of view.
Instead, I've decided to construct my own hot box and hide it in the basement.
post #6 of 7
I like the bag/tent perspective because I already have enough bulky and permanent boxes in my life, but I'm struggling with what kind of insulated bag I can scrounge up or make for cheap.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
A bivy space blanket or radiant aluminum, bubble insulation comes to mind as options for tents or bags.

Another hot box thread.

It's funny how the 'masters of the house' always end up in the basement or garage per the 'real bosses' desires'.
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