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1216RE: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners (LaVerne Williams?)

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  • Robert Johnston
    Sep 5, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Thanks Laverne for the clarification.  I just remember that your comments were sufficiently sobering that
      I started looking for other avenues.  Your new comments only add to those concerns.  I think you are
      right about the mold and mildew liabilities.  It may be tougher for the class action lawyers since there isn't
      a single deep pocketed company like Johns Mansville, but I imagine there are enough major builders like
      U.S. Homes etc. that they can find enough targets to keep them in BMW's for a few years at least.
       
      Robert
      -----Original Message-----
      From: LaVerne Williams [mailto:wa@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 1:05 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners (LaVerne Williams?)

      Dear Kim & Garth & Robert Johnston:
       
      Robert:  You have a good memory.  I wish I could comment in detail but my current commitments are not leaving me much free time at all, but Kim is not talking about a "cool tube" concept, which would be a disaster health wise in probably most of Texas.  I think he is describing a system that is similar to a system being promoted from Dallas that has piping (metal. I think) that runs around a room with troughs below to catch the condensate to drain it.  I believe the McDermott Engineering building in West Houston used the system for a while but I believe they abandoned it.
       
      Being only 100 miles from Houston, Kim & Garth, I wouldn't recommend such a system here or even in dessert areas.  They are having terrific mold problems in desert area homes.  I am not sure why because I am not currently working on any projects in such areas, but it may be a combination of tight homes and the use of "swamp type coolers".  Or it just may be tight homes with conventional HVAC systems and poor construction not having a drainage plane or oversized cooling systems.  Of course, compared to conditions that are set up to have mold growth in dessert areas means horrendous blossoming of mold growth in the humid Gulf Coast and Central Texas areas.
       
      Anyway, mold will eventually form in the trough and if you could see what I am experiencing with people who have come to me because of very serious health problems they are having from mold in their houses, you would do everything possible to prevent mold from forming. (I'm working with a couple right now who decided to design and build their own house and now his wife has had around 17 strokes in her brain (MRI confirmed) primarily because of what mold  (and formaldehyde in common building materials)  can do.  They also have twins who are 5 years old who have only developed to that of 2 year olds, and one of them is not showing any signs of recovery.   I am helping them create a safe haven until we can do something more permanent for them).  I also have an Industrial Hygienist friend who is involved as an expert witness in over 1500 lawsuits because of mold growth and health problems with houses and buildings.  From what he has seen, the litigation concerning mold in buildings will dwarf what happened with asbestos in buildings
       
      Hope this helps. 
       
      To Everyone:  Molds kill.   Do everything you can to make your home mold free!!!  It is not something to take lightly.  Anytime and any place the relative humidity inside a home goes over 60% RH, mold grows!  (Aim for 50% RH or less year-round)  This woman was in such perfect health before they built their home 7 years ago that she worked out 2 hours a day!  Now she can barely care for herself and her twins.  They have had to abandon their house.
       
      LaVerne A. Williams, AIA
      laverne@...
      Environment Associates, Architects & Consultants
      5828 Langfield Road
      Houston, TX 77092-1429
      713.528.0000
       
       
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Kim & Garth Travis" <gartht@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 8:22 AM
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners (LaVerne Williams?)

      > Hi,
      >
      >  
      >
      >
      > > I'm wondering what kind of cooling Kim has in mind.
      >
      > I am using hydronics, an idea I got from Roth company on the web.  PEX
      > hose set in the floor and on the perimeter walls at the 8' height.  Roth
      > is using such systems commercially and has an extensive web site.  At
      > roth.com I think.
      >
      >   In particular, I'm
      > > wondering,
      > > If you live in a hot humid area,
      >
      > I live 100 miles north-northwest of Houston.
      >
      > is ANY kind of cooling based on bringing
      > > cold air
      > > or water into the house WITHOUT also having dehumidificatio built into the
      > > cooling
      > > system setting oneself up for mold, mildew and perhaps Legionnaire's
      > > Disease?  e.g.,
      > > suppose you could use water pipes or any other technology to cool the walls
      > > and floor
      > > of your home to a pleasant 70?C and keep it there day and night. 
      >
      > We may need to bring in a dehumidifier, but I like my home at 50%
      > humidity.  In Canada we used humidifiers to raise it this high.
      > Anything below this, we find uncomfortable.  I am sorry, but I do not
      > find 70 degrees comfortable.  The joy of living in Texas is I never need
      > to be cool or cold again.  We are ranchers and work outside, a
      > temperature of 76 to 78 is comfortable to us.  Our guest room has a
      > separate control so company can sleep in cooler temperatures.  [We are
      > putting in a well screened sleeping porch for most of the year]
      >
      > Our closets are 6" deeper than normal to allow air circulation. We do
      > not use wall to wall carpet, only area rugs. The big trick is to have a
      > super insulated building with wide porches, good ventilation and never
      > let it get hot. We first looked at the historical buildings in Texas and
      > how they kept them cool without electricity.  Then we tried to design as
      > many of those ideas as possible into our buildings so our cooling
      > demands are not those of a normal tract home.
      >
      > The temperature difference between the cooling and ambient temperatures
      > can not be too great, [say over 15 degrees] or you have a real problem.
      > The water we are using to cool is 65 degrees. The cool water comes in at
      > the wall, where it has a drip tray built under it, then circulates in
      > the floor before exiting.
      >
      > If we ever let it get hot in the building, we would have to use some
      > window units or something to cool the building or wait a long time to
      > gradually lower the temperature.  We have not built our main house yet,
      > we are working on our shops and installing all of our ideas there, first.
      >
      >
      >  (A vapor barrier would be meaningless if you are not drying
      > > the air
      > > inside).
      >
      > We do not use vapor barriers as our buildings are fibrous adobe.
      >
      > >
      > > LaVerne Williams, are you reading this?  Did I summarize your comments
      > > accurately?
      > > Would you care to comment on the futility of ANY approaches to cooling a
      > > house here
      > > without simultaneously providing dehumidification?  As long as the house
      > > stays near
      > > ambient temperature I would think things would be OK, but the concern is
      > > that you
      > > might cool the house below ambient in a humid environment.  Care to comment
      > > on what
      > > appears to be Kim's plan to cool a building with cold water pipes?
      > >
      > > Robert
      > >
      > > -----Original Message-----
      > > From: Claude Foster [mailto:ccfoster@...]
      > > Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 7:51 AM
      > > To:
      'hreg@yahoogroups.com'
      > > Subject: RE: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners
      > >
      > >
      > > Kim,
      > >
      > > I will do some calculations for you if you will contact me directly.
      > >
      > >
      ccfoster@...
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >> -----Original Message-----
      > >> From: Kim & Garth Travis [SMTP:gartht@...]
      > >> Sent: Saturday, September 01, 2001 7:16 AM
      > >> To:
      hreg@yahoogroups.com
      > >> Subject: Re: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners
      > >>
      > >> Hi,
      > >> I am planning using cooled water to cool a 1000 sq. ft. building.  My
      > >> circulating pump is from a 15' diameter swimming pool.  I installed my
      > >> pipe under a raised garden bed that is filled with plants that like wet
      > >> feet.  In the testing we have done on the garden bed water, we seem to
      > >> be washing the heat away.  The plans call for the cooling pipe to be
      > >> installed at the 8' level on the walls as well as in the floor.
      > >> Kim
      > >>
      > >> William M. Bell, Jr. wrote:
      > >>
      > >>
      > >>> Robert:
      > >>>
      > >>> Thanks for the interest. I am not opposed to ammonia. It simply makes
      > >>
      > >> life a
      > >>
      > >>> little more complicated.
      > >>>
      > >>> I "designed" a system that used chilled water to cool and heated water
      > >>
      > >> to
      > >>
      > >>> heat. The main problem was that it required a rather large, insulated
      > >>> holding tank. I proposed to use a concrete tank and bury it.
      > >>>
      > >>> I found a simpler design that used silica gel and water. It uses
      > >>> solar-heated water to squeeze the water out of the silica gel. If you
      > >>
      > >> looked
      > >>
      > >>> at the web site that I listed, you can see a commercial application of
      > >>
      > >> such
      > >>
      > >>> a system. It has much going for it: few moving parts; no corrosive
      > >>> chemicals; no excessive pressures or temperatures; and simple. The only
      > >>> problem is that I can't find any residential applications and
      > >>
      > >> information is
      > >>
      > >>> scarce.
      > >>>
      > >>> Geothermal is cool, no pun intended. The main problem that I have
      > >>> encountered is that it is expensive to drill several wells and there is
      > >>
      > >> also
      > >>
      > >>> a fear that you could contaminate your drinking water. That is
      > >>
      > >> geothermal
      > >>
      > >>> that uses water wells. I have also heard of geothermal that circulated
      > >>
      > >> water
      > >>
      > >>> through pipes located 10+ feet below ground. A friend of mine worked
      > >>
      > >> with a
      > >>
      > >>> company that uses directional drilling to dig the lines for fiber optic
      > >>> cable and conduit. He thought that it would be an easy matter to use
      > >>
      > >> their
      > >>
      > >>> machine to drill the circulating lines. My biggest obstacle, is that I
      > >>
      > >> have
      > >>
      > >>> no idea how much line, etc that I would need. Lack of knowledge has
      > >>
      > >> stopped
      > >>
      > >>> me once again. My thought was that I could put a coil in my air
      > >>
      > >> conditioner
      > >>
      > >>> blower, before it got to the a/c coil, so that I could pre-cool my air.
      > >>
      > >> The
      > >>
      > >>> idea was that if it worked well enough, the a/c would not need to kick
      > >>
      > >> in. I
      > >>
      > >>> wanted to find a small circulating pump (again, I had no idea what size)
      > >>
      > >> and
      > >>
      > >>> have it run by a solar panel. The hotter it is outside, the more it
      > >>
      > >> pumps. I
      > >>
      > >>> have a friend in Lake Jackson who drilled several wells and used it to
      > >>
      > >> cool
      > >>
      > >>> his house. It worked OK for a while, but then he had problems with his
      > >>> wells.
      > >>>
      > >>> Anyway, I think that this is an interesting area and we would all
      > >>
      > >> benefit
      > >>
      > >>> from sharing our knowledge.
      > >>>
      > >>> ----- Original Message -----
      > >>> From: "Robert Johnston" <
      rjohnsto@...>
      > >>> To: <
      hreg@yahoogroups.com>
      > >>> Sent: Friday, August 31, 2001 6:14 PM
      > >>> Subject: [hreg] Solar Air Conditioners
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> Between the Nigerian Scams and the Environmental Spams, the good stuff
      > >>>
      > >> is
      > >>
      > >>>> hard to find here!  However, there wasn't much comment on this note
      > >>>
      > >> from
      > >>
      > >>>> Billy Bell except Kevin pointing out the inefficiencies of
      > >>>
      > >> thermoelectric
      > >>
      > >>>> cooling (especially if tied to a solar cell!).
      > >>>>
      > >>>> However, it is an extremely interesting question and one I'd love to
      > >>>
      > >> see
      > >>
      > >>>> more discussion on.  This is obviously one of the main barriers to this
      > >>>
      > >>> area
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> ever achieving the kind of renewable energy freedom that some other
      > >>>
      > >> parts
      > >>
      > >>> of
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> the country can do.  The use of water as an evaporative coolant OK in
      > >>>> Arizona but not Houston--too humid already!  In any case, even in a
      > >>>
      > >> closed
      > >>
      > >>>> system it wouldn't make a good medium for an efficient A/C.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> Anybody want to comment on what they think has the greatest potential
      > >>>
      > >> in
      > >>
      > >>> our
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> area?
      > >>>> Things that come to mind for me (besides ceiling fans, insulation,
      > >>>
      > >> etc.)
      > >>
      > >>>> are:
      > >>>>
      > >>>> 1.  Dessicators.  I know that natural gas fired units are now used for
      > >>>> commercial buildings in some locations.  I don't know if any efficient
      > >>>
      > >>> solar
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> units have been designed.  But if you could dry out the air, that would
      > >>>
      > >>> help
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> a lot.  And then you might even be able to put a little cool water back
      > >>>
      > >> in
      > >>
      > >>>> as evaporative coolant as in Arizona.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> 2.  Geothermal units.  I'm puzzled why these haven't taken off, unless
      > >>>
      > >> it
      > >>
      > >>> is
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> their installation expense.  Why are they so expensive?  Are they not
      > >>>
      > >>> good?
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> A local A/C guy told me there are lots of problems with mold and odor
      > >>>
      > >> in
      > >>
      > >>> the
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> heat pump part of the installation.  I don't know if that is true.  He
      > >>>
      > >> is
      > >>
      > >>>> death on heat pumps **period** for that reason, and prefers straight
      > >>>
      > >>> A/C's.
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> But there is still something appealing to me of trying to cool
      > >>>
      > >> compressed
      > >>
      > >>>> gas with ground temperature rather than air temperature medium.  I've
      > >>>
      > >> seen
      > >>
      > >>>> some of the numbers posted on the web (very high S.E.E.R.), but there
      > >>>
      > >> is a
      > >>
      > >>>> lot of hype by vendors.  Since these aren't that popular, is it because
      > >>>
      > >>> they
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> don't work that well in practice, or is it just the cost of
      > >>>
      > >> installation?
      > >>
      > >>>> What is the payback period in this area, then?  These are some
      > >>>
      > >> questions
      > >>
      > >>> I'd
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> like to see discussed.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> As far as ammonia goes, Billy--I know it is not nice stuff, but it used
      > >>>
      > >> to
      > >>
      > >>>> be used in refrigerators long ago, so with proper engineering I guess
      > >>>
      > >> it
      > >>
      > >>> was
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> managed OK.  (Before my time, so I have no first hand experience).  I
      > >>>
      > >> also
      > >>
      > >>>> know that TDC put some ammonia cooling systems on a couple of new
      > >>>
      > >> warden's
      > >>
      > >>>> homes at the prison farm south of Lake Jackson on the corner of
      > >>>> FM2004/FM2611 and State Hwy 36.  It is a duplex unit.  The houses have
      > >>>> optimally sloping roofs aimed towards the sun, and then on the rooftops
      > >>>
      > >>> were
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> solar collectors.  They may have had solar hot water too--I don't
      > >>>> recall--but I remember reading in the newspaper when they built them
      > >>>
      > >> about
      > >>
      > >>>> their ammonia cooling systems.  This would have been around 1981-85
      > >>>> timeframe.  I also know that the collectors are now gone, but I don't
      > >>>
      > >> know
      > >>
      > >>>> why.  It could just be that TDC didn't want to fuss with them--e.g., it
      > >>>
      > >>> may
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> have been environmentally "cool" (pun intended) to use solar on state
      > >>>> institutions at that time, but the maintenance expense for handling
      > >>>
      > >> such
      > >>
      > >>> an
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> unusual system that was different than all the other onsite A/C's might
      > >>>
      > >>> have
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> caused rethinking of the project down the road.  Or, it may be that the
      > >>>> units just didn't hold up to use.  I don't know, but I assume you could
      > >>>
      > >>> find
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> out more by asking around, or writing TDC.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> In any case, if any of you have some thoughts on the subject of solar
      > >>>
      > >> or
      > >>
      > >>>> just more efficient air conditioning/cooling, why don't we see if we
      > >>>
      > >> can
      > >>
      > >>> get
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> a discussion going on this subject and enlighten ourselves?
      > >>>>
      > >>>> Robert Johnston
      > >>>>
      > >>>> -----Original Message-----
      > >>>> From: William M. Bell, Jr. [mailto:wmb@...]
      > >>>> Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2001 9:23 AM
      > >>>> To:
      hreg@yahoogroups.com
      > >>>> Subject: Re: [hreg] Digest Number 281
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>> Wow! What an email regarding the livestock industry and the whales.
      > >>>>
      > >> Who
      > >>
      > >>>> are
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>> they from?  tpwc---ENVIRO ALERT <
      envir_456@... doesn't do much
      > >>>>
      > >> for
      > >>
      > >>>> me.
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>> Steve Stelzer
      > >>>>
      > >>>> I thought that livestock produced methane, which was a renewable? Just
      > >>>> Kidding  ; )  Although I appreciate information of this sort, I am more
      > >>>> concerned that this discussion group stays on target.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> By the way, I have been doing a great deal of looking around in my
      > >>>
      > >> spare
      > >>
      > >>>> time (which is not much) at solar air conditioners. There a number of
      > >>>> alternatives out there. It sounds strange until you view solar as an
      > >>>
      > >>> energy
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> source (heat). Most solar air conditioners work by a process called
      > >>>> adsorption. An efficient, economical solar a/c system, that could be
      > >>>
      > >> used
      > >>
      > >>> in
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> residential cooling would be an important contribution to renewable
      > >>>
      > >>> energy.
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> Think of the amount of heat generated in this city by a/c and the
      > >>>
      > >> amount
      > >>
      > >>> of
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> electricity that is wasted producing this heat.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> The adsorption units that I have looked at use either ammonia
      > >>>
      > >>> (refrigerant)
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> and calcium chloride (absorber) (or some other chemical) or water and
      > >>>
      > >>> silica
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> gel. The water and silica gel seems most promising to me. Ammonia is
      > >>>
      > >> too
      > >>
      > >>>> dangerous to have inside my house and it makes it difficult to work out
      > >>>
      > >> a
      > >>
      > >>>> system in which I can keep it outside. Water, however, is safe and when
      > >>>
      > >> it
      > >>
      > >>>> evaporates, absorbs a great deal of heat.
      > >>>>
      > >>>> There is also a solid state alternative that I have not had much
      > >>>
      > >>> opportunity
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> to explore. They use solid state refrigerators in small outdoor
      > >>>
      > >> coolers.
      > >>
      > >>>> When you pass a 12V current through the diode, one side gets hot and
      > >>>
      > >> the
      > >>
      > >>>> other side gets cool. Perhaps, we could use the hot side to pre-heat
      > >>>
      > >> our
      > >>
      > >>>> water to the hot water heater and the cold side to chill water that
      > >>>
      > >> could
      > >>
      > >>> be
      > >>>
      > >>>
      > >>>> used to cool the house, if needed. The unit could be attached to solar
      > >>>> panels that produce the 12V current. The hotter it is outside, the
      > >>>
      > >> harder
      > >>
      > >>>> the unit works. I like that!
      > >>>>
      > >>>> Some helpful web sites:
      http://www.caddet-ee.org/nl_html/001_02.htm
      > >>>> http://www.adsorptionchiller.com/
      > >>>>
      > >>>> Billy Bell
      > >>>> PO Box 926
      > >>>> Fulshear, Texas 77441-0926
      > >>>>
      > >>>> 713-439-1115 Telephone
      > >>>> 281-346-0994 Fax
      > >>>>
      wmb@...
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
      > >>>>
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