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Unconventional Ideas

G2STAR Member Posts: 4
It is similar to tundra out in the open with sideways snow at twenty below Fahrenheit for far to long here and I only heat with wood. The house and shop both have the plain ole orangish brown PEX B137.5-97 in concentric circles and lost all the photos. For the house I envisioned using a small electric water heater, but they cost as much as a large ones and thermostatically designed for ~100 degrees F. I need a wide range thermostat because I, at a minimum, want to start at 40 degrees F to prevent freezing if left unattended and if need be heat the whole house solo. I guess alike 'on demand' and gradually raising the temperature. Just warming it up a little would probably be perfect.

The shop will be fun, right now about a quarter of it is drying out wet, parts just above freezing, and some below. I'm pretty sure I should be careful running extreme temperatures as it probably will damage the slab. I have an insulated four foot diameter X six foot tall solar swimming pool storage tank with a large loose fiberglass lid. I was thinking of using beet juice (cringe, & brine?) but have no idea what will go wrong. I could heat exchange with what ever antifreeze is conventional for the PEX through that into the floors or directly. Heating the fluid with a wood stove presents another potential problem of degrading of the fluid in the very hot heat exchanger. It should be noted that I don't want to maintain any heat in the shop, just when things need to get done.

I must be old school, I can't even find an oil probe thermostat, I guess the electronic ones would do, maybe better. All I know is that I need to improve the heating situation. The only way to leave the house for a not so long of a time is to drain the waterlines, they are all slopped. And the sky is the limit on configurations as I have a four inch PVC line between the shop and house, I was thinking of getting a ~ten foot diameter metal grain bin and installing it, safely next to the shop, upside-down with the conical part up for the flue. From there I could feed wood from the shop or from outside and for a containment of very hot oil incineration experiments plus a solar hub. I picked up a free aluminum fourteen foot satellite dish but making the sixth dual axis tracker is having supply issues. I have contemplated for decades on the high temperature heat exchanger problems to no avail, flammable oil or complete ignorance of liquid salt. I have experience with dual-axis trough, but focal point is glowing hot.

What are the options for antifreeze for a large tank, water and auto antifreeze? Should the lid be sealed somewhat or vent it? Do they rent infrared detectors, I want a central hole through the slab for a robotic mount and have no idea where the lines aren't.


  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,136
    You can buy non toxic anti freeze by the 55 gallon barrel for hot water heating systems and in the right proportions it can protect a hot water heating system to well below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

    If you are in Alaska how far are you from Usibelli coal? if you are in the Yukon how far are you from the coal mines in British Columbia or Alberta?

  • G2STAR
    G2STAR Member Posts: 4
    Fast evaluation $5,000... I have coal, does that work if I can liquefy it? Walking distance to the Yoopers.
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,136
    edited March 2022
    How far are you from Alpina or White Pine???

    NO, liquifying the coal into a slurry will not work, take that from a retired hard rock miner.

    Is your workshop well insulated? Is the slab well insulated??

    You mention the PVC pipe between your shop and home; if it is uninsulated and you pull a hot water feed and cool water return through it you will be heating the ground and mowing all year round along the pipe route to the shop and you will lose a great deal of heat and be mowing the grass there the year round.

    Ideally you want to use the closed cell foam oxygen barrier PEX which is expensive but only loses 1 degree of temperature per 100 foot of length if my memory of it is right. The tubing is very hard to handle due to its stiffness but that is because of the closed cell foam they use to fill the tubing and surround the pex lines.

    It can be left on the ground unburied to use it. You just have to be sure it cannot be damaged in some

    Don't spend your valuable time trying to experiment with heating methodology when you can use a coal stoker to heat everything.

    You have very old PEX and it would probably be in your best interest to purchase surplus hot water radiators either made from steel or cast iron and use them as the huge amount of thermal mass they have will make lots of heat that will radiate slowly into your shop and disconnect the floor heating loops.

    The in floor radiant you have will work but I would worry about leaks at higher water temperatures.

    If you have access to waste oil you can use a waste oil burner to heat your shop and you need to have exhaust ducting for it to work safely and strong enough ceiling joists to carry the weight of the waste oil burner and the exhaust ducting to the nearest wall or space on the floor to place it where you can and safely run an oil line to the waste oil furnace. The only problem would be when the oil runs out and the shop will get cold.

    Using a coal stoker boiler will let you keep and deliver a slow even heat and add radiators if you want to increase your thermal mass.

    You need to use a coal stoker boiler and stoker coal to heat your place.

    The Western Sub Bituminous Coal you have nearby will work well with an AHS S260 coal stoker boiler and produce plenty of heat for you at a very low cost per ton especially when you buy it in 22 or 44 ton loads.

    You would want a water temperature of 71.1111 Degrees Celsius High Limit and 60 Degrees Celsius Low Limit and no higher to heat your shop floors and your home due to the age of the PEX BUT in saying that finding surplus hot water radiators to heat your shop and home would be a better way to do this as you can place the radiators along the walls and use good pex oxygen barrier to connect them end to end and then back to the boiler sump header.

    I would advise you to purchase three of Dans well written books about heating from the heating help bookstore page before you go any further.

    These excellent paperback books are "PUMPING AWAY", "CLASSIC HYDRONICS", and "HOW COME" to help you understand hot water heating and install the plumbing to do the job of heating your home and shop.

    Buying the three books I mentioned above from the Heating Help Bookstore eliminates the middleman and
    the books are shipped directly to you and all profits go to Mr. Holohan.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,157
    Depending on the size of them home you are trying to heat? a standard 40-m50 gallon electric tank is 4500W or about 15,000 BTU/ hr. not a lot of heat. And certainly not enough to over-heat or crack a slab. the tank could be set at 100F, the thermostat on the wall at 40- 45, No need to turn the tank way down unless you are gone for weeks or months. Remember start up is fairly slow with radiant systems. Getting fro 40- 68 or so could take hours, or days with a small output heater.

    with an electric tank you can do some wiring and control swap and run upper and lower elements together, but you would need two 30A 240V circuits. Electric resistance is generally the most expensive way to heat, unless you have very low rates, below .10/ kwh for example.

    I'm not sure what the shop heat source is? solar? wood? Those are the only two that would need storage.

    Got a brand name on the pex tube. Unless it has been in sunlight it should be fine for 50- 60 years or more
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • G2STAR
    G2STAR Member Posts: 4

    Is my ip giving me away? The latter, why, where are you?

    Everything is insulated for the house, the shop concrete is insulated only.

    The line between the two is ~three feet down. Four in diameter and ~forty feet, I'm stuck with it.

    I only have maybe three storage tots of coal and took years to find for my foundry to start it burning drain oil. BTW, I don't want to burn that stuff at low temperature, burns super clean at foundry temperature. That stuff has to have lots of lead, zinc, etc. from engine bearing wear.

    Thanks for the book recommendations, ahhh I have a number of large volumes I need to read.

    You did give me one good idea, to extract more heat from the wood stove for the air via heat exchangers.

  • G2STAR
    G2STAR Member Posts: 4

    The more I think about, I bet the vast majority of consumers keep the slab at temperature 27/7 and wouldn't know much about driving high temperature fluid through twenty below concrete. I've heard of the concrete "popping" and that seems possible, but it was from a person that one needs a salt block to lick on. It would fantastic to heat it all winter, but only the slab is insulated.

    I have a large solar storage tank, can't get to the label to read the gallons ~four foot diameter X six feet, that I got from Sammy Davis Jr.'s house for $25. The pool was interesting, with two hot tubs diametric from each other across the pool...

    Maybe it is too risky, but some heat would be nice. I put down used carpet which helps, ice cold feet get old fast. I'm just looking for ideas. I always have always been worried about the fluid boiling. A dish solar is said to be 1,250F instantly. Burning waist oil my way is 2,000F. Woodstove unknown. Even an electric heating element boils it, but if I pump it through a three inch diameter pipe the flow may eliminate the problem for the house. It is the wife ****'n about the floor, just fine for me, if I can raise it just a bit she would shut up. I can build it if I can find the parts, I can't even find an ole school thermostat, little alone the high limit or flow switch.

    Looks like I need the all metal out-building, so I don't burn down the shop, and heat everything from there.
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,050
    G2STAR said:

    It should be noted that I don't want to maintain any heat in the shop, just when things need to get done.

    Generally not recommended for slab heating. Slab heating is slow to react, and to heat that space from -20 to say 40 degrees in any reasonable amount of time would more than likely exceed recommended temperatures for either the pex or the slab or both. If the wood boiler is always cooking you could run a mixed circuit to the slab with a lower water temperature just to keep it slightly tempered, could play with that a little bit to get the temp just right, and run that mixed circuit from a slab sensor or set to maintain a given supply temp. If you want to bring the space up to temp for comfort just when you are doing things in there, I would recommend a hot water fan coil. That will cut through the cold air quickly, and if the slab is already maintaining above freezing the heavy lifting is already done.