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Home-Built Radiant Heat System
"My wife and I have lived totally off-grid for 10 years, using wood as our only source of home heat. We wanted a more efficient wood burning system so I decided to build my own," says William Schuller of Cusick, Wash.
  He started with a junked-out, 50-gal. water heater tank. He cut it down to a length of 43 in., removed the concave bottom end, and turned it around and welded it back on.
  "We wanted radiant floor heating so I added a 13-gal. heating tank on back of it. The heated anti-freeze mixture is pumped through 500 ft. of plastic tubing that goes through our house's floors.
  "The top of the stove is even equipped with a 10 by 20-in. flat cooking surface. No clearance is needed between the hot water tank and the cedar wall because the tank never gets hotter than the circulating water."
  A thermostat turns the pump on when water is at 125 degrees and off at 60 degrees. The water first circulates to a small automotive radiator with a 12-volt fan in the crawl space under the house to keep the well pipe from freezing. From there the water goes out to a large 24-volt battery room which also has an automotive radiator. Then the fluid is pumped back into the house and through the plastic tubing, which heats the floors. The cooled water then returns to the heating tank. "The total fluid capacity of the system is about 20 gallons," says Schuller.
  "With a stack temperature of 400 degrees, the crawl space and battery room remain at about 40 degrees while the rest of the house stays at a constant 72 degrees, even with outdoor temperatures around zero. We load the stove up at night and it holds a fire for 10 hours.
  "I purchased three components: a low volume (3.3-gal./min.) 24-volt hot water circulating pump, an adjustable snap-disc thermostat, and 500 ft. of Pex 5/8-in. dia. plastic tubing. Total cost of these materials was $460, with the pump making up two thirds of the cost. This pump is bronze, stainless steel and Teflon. It has a 24-volt DC magnetic drive and is completely silent.  
  "I purchased the hot water pump from Northern Arizona Wind & Sun (ph 800 383-0195 or 928 526-8017; www.windsun.com). The thermostat came from Grainger (ph 800 323-0620; www.grainger.com). I bought the Pex plastic tubing at a home heating and air conditioning store in Sandpoint, Idaho. All the rest of the plumbing is standard black pipe or brass."
  The round wood burning tank with convex ends radiates heat out better than flat sides, says Schuller. "The door on the tank is big enough for an 18-in. long, 10-in. dia. piece of wood to fit through. The tank is fitted with two adjustable draft vents - one at one end of the tank and the other just below the door. The two draft vents result in a better burn than one," he notes.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, William Schuller, P.O. Box 277, Cusick, Wash. 99119 (ph 509 671-7550; virgil49@wildblue.net).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1