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Patio Doors Used To Help Keep Shop Warm
When Nelson Brubaker of Lena, Wis., built a big new 50 by 64-ft. shop building, he used the sun to help keep his heating and air conditioning bills down. But he didn’t install new solar panels. Instead, he bought 19 used kitchen patio doors and installed them in a row along the entire south side of the building, just underneath a 2-ft. overhang.
  The insulated building has 16-ft. high sidewalls and an uninsulated floor. Brubaker uses the building to construct storage sheds for sale. A wood stove provides additional heat during winter.
  The patio door windows measure 80 in. high and range from 30 to 48 in. wide. They’re screwed to a wooden frame at the top and bottom.
  “The large windows take advantage of free sunshine and provide both heat and light,” says Brubaker. “It’s really nice to walk into the shop on a cold winter day when the wind chill is at 30 degrees below zero, but the thermometer inside shows 50 degrees - with nothing more than God’s good gift of sunshine keeping it warm. On days like that the sun pours in like heating oil.”
  He paid $15 apiece for the doors and spent a total of $285. “If I had bought all new glass windows I would have had to spend about $3,000,” says Brubaker. “When I bought the windows I had no idea if the seals were good or not. I’ve had trouble in the last couple years with some of the windows fogging up because the seals went bad, but it isn’t a big problem.”
  He lives close to the 45 degree latitude and uses a simple 2 to 1 rule of thumb to determine how much sunlight the building can expect to receive. “On December 21 the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon. The tops of the windows are 16 ft. high so the sun shines 32 ft. into the building at noon, which is about two thirds of the way across the floor. This 2 to 1 ratio also works on June 21 when the sun shines in only one foot for every 2 ft. in height. But with the 2-ft. overhang and the high summer sun, the windows are almost completely shaded.”
  People often comment to Brubaker that it must get pretty hot inside the building during summer, but he says that’s not the case. “Sunrise on the longest days of the year is far to the northeast and sunset is far to the northwest. As a result the sun only shines inside the building for several hours during the middle of the day, and even then it’s only a thin 4-in. line.”
  He says he doesn’t expect to achieve normal room temperature every day during the winter with his system, “but you can count on temperatures in the 40’s on any given winter day, and on days when the sun shines it’ll often reach 50 degrees.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nelson Brubaker, 5515 McCarthy Rd., Lena, Wis. 54139 (cell ph 920 373-4782; cedarcreekstorage@gmail.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1