They're Using Cow Power To Heat Homes

Del Lussenden, a Surge dairy equipment dealer in Owen, Wis., has come up with a new "cow power" system that captures body heat given off by dairy cows to heat farm homes and other buildings. In the summer, the system reverses itself to act as an air conditioner.

"One cow gives off 4,400 btu's per hour. Our Dairy-Aire system recovers 2,500 btu's. A 60-cow herd will easily heat and cool the average 1,500 to 2,000 sq. ft. home," Lussenden told FARM SHOW, noting that the system can also be installed in high capacity hog, poultry and other confinement buildings.

The Dairy-Aire system also serves as the exhaust system for the barn, using a large filter that scrubs the inside air clean.

"Another company developed a similar system several years ago. We feel that our system is superior because it uses just one compressor instead of two, and uses water and antifreeze to transfer heat to the house rather than freon, which is much more expensive. Our system is cheaper initially and is much cheaper to run once installed," says Lussenden. "Instead of spending money on exhaust fans to exhaust heat outside the building, you're recovering heat for another use. The system also provides a cleaner environment by constantly filtering the air and removing excess moisture."

From inside the barn, all you'll see of the Dairy-Aire system is the large filter hanging on the wall. Air is pulled through the filter and through the wall to a large unit mounted on the wall outside the building. Heat from the cows is pulled through the unit and a heat pump compressor either heats or cools the anti-freeze mixture that runs underground through pipes to the house or other farm buildings. Inside the house, a heat exchanger is installed in the existing furnace to maintain the heating or air conditioning comfort level as determined by the thermostat setting.

The system is sized to the house and is designed to put out about 128 degrees of heat, compared to the normal gas furnace output of 120 to 140 degrees. A water pump moves the antifreeze through 1-in. pipe to the home which can be located up to 600 ft. away. In addition to the 1-in. pipe, six control wires run from the house to the barn.

"It draws only 28 amps while operating," says Lussenden.