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Thread: Solar chicken and rabbit waterer--macdaddy system!

  1. #11
    LHBA Member rreidnauer's Avatar
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    I thought you were planning on relying on a pump for circulation. If it's thermosiphoning you hope to utilize to heat the old water heater tank, I think the way you have things plumbed will not work. The open loop system of your totes might cause the water heater to drain out via the gutter pipe, and potentially air lock the system. (at very least, you need to connect the line from the water heater to the tote at the bottom with the outlet. Any air in the loop will prevent any chance of thermosiphoning. You might be able to make a large ball check valve from PVC fittings to prevent potential backflow of the gutter connection. Also for thermosiphoning, I'd fit a low pressure check valve before or after the collector to prevent reverse flow when the collector gets cold.

    2 PSI is like 5 foot of water column. Any water in the system over 5 feet above the nipples will over-pressurize them.
    Last edited by rreidnauer; 01-02-2015 at 05:50 PM.
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  2. #12
    LHBA Member logguy's Avatar
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    I agree. I know that if I connect the water heater to the tote at the bottom, the pipe/hose I use to do that will fill up toward the water heater to equal the height of the water in the tote (...or higher...right?!). As soon as I hook that pipe/hose to the water heater I'll have some return pressure build in the direction of the tote because of thermosyphoning but this pressure would increase and decrease based on the temp of the collector as well as the height of the water heater. That's why I was going to put a pump and pressure regulator between the tote and the collector--because I thought it would provide a steady pressure in the right direction as well as a steady arrest of back pressure from the tote as it fills from the gutter and water heater and drains as animals drink and as the pump keeps on a-pumpin at a slow, steady pace. I also thought that the pump and pressure regulator would take care of the need for a check valve.
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  3. #13
    LHBA Member rreidnauer's Avatar
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    Water in the piping would equalize to the height of the water in the tote.

    Thermosiphoning is perceptibly zero pressure, relying on the specific weight difference between the hot water column and the cold water column. (it is an incredibly minute difference) Pressure readings would read nearly identical on either column at any given height, with zero pressure at the top of a closed loop, and the highest pressure at the lowest point in the closed loop. (which is the result of the weight of the water itself) That's why any open portion of the loop will prevent thermosiphoning, because it would unbalance the columns which thermosiphoning's minimal effect can't possibly overcome. Additionally, thermosiphoning will not work if the heating component isn't at the lowest portion of the closed loop hot side column. This is mainly because, if the collector is mounted say, mid height in the loop, you only have a half part your hot water side of the column, and one and a half parts of cold side column, throwing off the already delicate function.

    I am still confused over using terms of thermosiphoning if you have a pump. If you are running a pump, there is no need for thermosiphoning circulation.
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  4. #14
    LHBA Member logguy's Avatar
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    Hey--you know what you're talking about! :-)

    So, originally, I was going to use thermosiphoning in an attempt to keep the uninsulated barn from dropping below zero so that the rabbit watering system wouldn't freeze up. I was going to use several $12 blue 55 gal drums plumbed in series for use as the heat sinks on the inside of the south wall--the other side of the wall that the collector would be mounted to. Then the collector--it's designed with a couple sheets of insulation that form the box, a roll of metal tape, 2 cans of flat black spray paint, and 10, 10' sticks of half inch CPVC. Yes--CPVC, not
    copper--and the yield is 150 degree water--with half inch CPVC. I already have the double-pane glass. But the barn is 30'x30' and the rabbit cages and watering system are mounted on the north wall so I figured that at $100 plus all of the work involved, I thought I'd just keep the water flowing very slowly with a pump and pressure regulator and increase the chances that the system wouldn't freeze by maybe getting a little bit of heat from the sun because I think that I should put the chickens below the rabbits and auto water them too--along with the sheep if I can figure that out too. The other option is to totally exclude the hot water heater and collector from the loop and run two strands of heat cable through the entire length of the system hooked to the tote, a pail heater in the tote, and slow, continuous flow from a pump & regulator. This is a bit more expensive but a lot less work to assemble and probably a better bet. Both are probably reliable--both provide redundancy, a little bit of heat as well as continuous water flow.
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  5. #15
    LHBA Member rreidnauer's Avatar
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    I like plan B from a better reliability standpoint. But actually, your first plan as drawn I like, if you eliminated the hot water heater tank all together, and insulated the totes in 4 to 6 inches of polyiso board. (and use the circulation pump) With the solar collector and totes at the same level, it would eliminate over-pressure of the watering nipples, without any need for pressure regulation. (provided you have overflow outlets on your totes)

    Oh, I'd use continuous PEX tubing in the collector and all feed lines, because it can withstand freezing. (fittings won't though, but would save a lot of repair work of replacing CPVC pipe)
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  6. #16
    LHBA Member logguy's Avatar
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    You need 3x larger pex collector than CPVC collector and the water tank is a valuable reservoir to collect the hot water--or if you strip it down to metal, paint it black and put it in a box with a glass top, you can heat 180 degree water right from the sun. It's really expensive to insulate totes properly--hundreds of bucks for just one tote. I think that, since heat rises and all, that if a guy put one of those $30 outdoor animal heated mats underneath the tote that it would keep the water from freezing best. But continuous flow and two strands of heat wire is really simplest and almost fool proof.
    Every man dies. Not every man really lives.
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  7. #17
    LHBA Member logguy's Avatar
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    And finally, the ultimate fix is a 50' slanted roof on a shed built on the south side (the right side of the barn in the photo). That would be a 30'x50' clear UV plexiglass roof. No more worries about warmth or freezing anything anywhere inside the ban--esp if I move the totes inside the north wall. Agreed? Then I've got a mackdaddy greenhouse too!
    Every man dies. Not every man really lives.
    William Wallace

    Everything in life is luck.
    Donald Trump

    If your goal is wealth, you will die a poor man.

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