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Solar hot water

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hot_rod
hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
Adding a system to my house. Spare parts I collected over the years. 37F here yesterday, overcast sky. The empty collector got over 200F inside the box.

It is a drainback system, piped in the attic with copper, transitioned to CSST to get down a chase to the basement.
Bob "hot rod" Rohr
trainer for Caleffi NA
Living the hydronic dream
kcoppSolid_Fuel_Man
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  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,361
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    Hi HR, Did you use silver solder to join the CSST to copper? Any special flux? What pressure is the CSST rated for? It all looks like fun, but makes questions in my mind. :p

    Yours, Larry
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Hi Larry
    yes a 15% Harris solder SilTron 15. Kurt at Solar MetalFlex made the Caleffi solar tubing for us. I visited his factory in Germany back in 2008. He showed me how to make the braze. He builds all sorts of tube at his plant in Turkey. I don 't remember what pressure we rated it for. The gas CSST seems to be 25 psi rated.

    Our solar relief valves are 7 bar, 101psi, so the tube must have been tested to that pressure or higher.

    Kurt told me this tube is used in the aircraft industry for high pressure hydraulic lines. Light weight easy to bend, etc.
    At the time he was building solar panel connectors, tube, HX and parts for Viessmann, Baxi, Bosch, Roth, Velux, most all the solar guys. Also heat exchangers for tanks, the attached pic.

    The one drawback was pressure drop, but we never needed more than 3 gpm in our solar packages. Long lengths could cost you some pressure drop, we limited it to 50' each way. I would not use it on a DB in horizontal runs. All the corrugations could trap water I suppose. We sold 1/2, 3/4 and 1" single and dual insulated tube.

    Oddly enough Watts made some to use as radiant tube. Watts owns Dormont and they were looking for other markets for CSST. The stuff I have is stamped Heatway! I actually did an underfloor job at one of the Watts employees home. Stapled it right to the subfloor. Not so easy to work with however.

    https://www.solarmetalflex.com/en/
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Larry WeingartenkcoppSolid_Fuel_Man
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 863
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    Wow, lot's of questions here.
    1. Is that a scorched air furnace in Hot Rod's house?
    2. Is that a Pro Press fitting in Hot Rod's house?
    3. Is that a regular old gas fired water heater (with that 'dangerous' 3" smoke pipe) and no drip on the gas line?

    Is this a late April Fool's joke that I missed? On a serious note, please show us the solar collector. Amazed it gets that hot on a cool spring day.
    rick in AlaskaPC7060Solid_Fuel_Man
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Wow, lot's of questions here.
    1. Is that a scorched air furnace in Hot Rod's house?
    2. Is that a Pro Press fitting in Hot Rod's house?
    3. Is that a regular old gas fired water heater (with that 'dangerous' 3" smoke pipe) and no drip on the gas line?

    Is this a late April Fool's joke that I missed? On a serious note, please show us the solar collector. Amazed it gets that hot on a cool spring day.

    I feel badly about those observations :) The water heater does have a drip leg down lower on the aquastat. Flex is common out here for seismic protection.

    Little by little this place is getting upgraded with more of a hydronic look. I have a HPWH that may go in.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    ScottSecorPC7060
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 863
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    :D I sort of figured as much. I'm guessing you have many ideas running around in your head that you plan on implementing. I'm envisioning radiant walls, floors, ceilings, garage/shop aka -laboratory/, driveway all coming off those solar collector. Oh, and dhw off your solar system as well.

    One catch, I believe you mentioned in another post that you now live in the the state with "the greatest snow on Earth," as such you might struggle on about one hundred days per year to produce a lot of solar energy. Unless you also have a snowmelt system on your solar collector?

    Thanks for sharing , please keep us to date. Just for reference, I'm envisioning Edison's laboratory here in NJ.
    PC7060
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Great shop! As long as you are not a long hair!

    That solar temperature was with 1/2 of the collector covered with 2" of snow.

    Here in the Salt lake valley we average 222 days of sunshine. But it's more about the radiation than sunlight. It was an overcast sky when I took those pics.
    392" of snowfall at Alta so far this year.

    Here is a sim I did for a solar system I sold to an engineer this week with a west facing roof. Good solar fraction still, 48% of his DHW from the solar.

    New Jersey was #1 in 2022 for total solar PV capacity per square mile! 3.7 giga rascals, or whatever they are called.
    #7 for total installed PV capacity.

    206 days of sunshine for the Garden State.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I have a jobsite that has 2 solar thermal collectors.....unused... 

    I thought about trading work for them, I ran two 3/4 copper pipes to the attic from the boiler room when I built the house back in 2009. But I've wondered how much output they'd have and I remember reading that solar thermal was dead! 

    How big are the collectors? What do you figure the btu/Day would be? I have no experience with thermal, just PV. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    I have a jobsite that has 2 solar thermal collectors.....unused... 

    I thought about trading work for them, I ran two 3/4 copper pipes to the attic from the boiler room when I built the house back in 2009. But I've wondered how much output they'd have and I remember reading that solar thermal was dead! 

    How big are the collectors? What do you figure the btu/Day would be? I have no experience with thermal, just PV. 
    Send me your town, the size of collectors, usually 4x8 or 10’, roof pitch and direction it faces. I can run a simulation for you.
    solar thermal is never dead, just not cost effective if you have to hire someone to do the install and pay full price for parts.  I have controllers and pump station for you. You need an indirect tank, or any tank and plate hx
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    kcoppSolid_Fuel_Man
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,403
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    I'm curious as to how many btu's your system can actually generate in cold weather? Would something like this ever have potential to augment hydronic heating? 
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 851
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    Solar thermal for heating a structure is always a stretch--the further north you go. Also the equipment it takes and the labor to build and then maintain it does not 'pencil out' well. I encounter lots of dormant or neglected S.T.systems that have not been maintained. It's a fair bit of work to revive them and then coach the owners about how to maintain and use them. Some of the systems' components are no longer supported by defunct mfgs. There are always work-arounds though for someone willing to tinker. If built well with robust components I encourage owners to revive them and keep them going to make free domestic hot water, often for the majority of their DHW needs. I've encountered only one system that was set up to provide supplemental heat for the home. It had 4 panels on the roof--then the problem became OVERHEAT in the summer. (They didn't have a swimming pool!).
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,403
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    Wouldn't a drainback system prevent it from over heating in addition to freeze protection? I still have half a roof on the back side of the house predominantly north west facing that isn't much good for pv. I wonder how it would work for thermal heating?
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 851
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    Agreed that drainback would be good solution for overheating and freezing. It would have to be very carefully and meticulously constructed however.
    I'm not sure how well a "predominantly north west facing that isn't much good for pv" roof-plane orientation would perform...for thermal heating. What am I missing? I'd like to see the mention of the word "south" as in south-east, south-west etc. "North"?...notsomuch.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    JakeCK said:

    I'm curious as to how many btu's your system can actually generate in cold weather? Would something like this ever have potential to augment hydronic heating? 

    I have a simulation program, it works much like a heat load program.
    Enter the collector info, mounting info, location, etc. Then define the load you want to cover and it will show all the numbers. SF is what we call solar fraction. The % of the load the solar will cover across a year.

    DHW is the best for solar thermal as it is a year around load. Consistent loads are best also, it is not ideal for vacation or partial use applications. Use it or lose it is the motto with solar thermal.

    Generally you look for a 50% or higher SF with DHW systems. For rebates and incentives you may need to show and prove that via a SIM.

    For solar heating 25-30% SF is what the pros shoot for. There are systems in Germany and Switzerland designed for 100% SF for heating and DHW. It takes massive amounts of insulated storage.

    I have had ST on 4 homes and shops I have built and lived in since the 1970's. It works for me as I have access to parts, my labor and the drive to get er done. In two cases we built the home specifically, facing solar south, to leverage the passive energy from the sun. The most affordable, non mechanical use.

    Some folks like coal, some steam, some oil, some FA hvac, I chose solar as my passion.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JakeCKSolid_Fuel_Man
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    psb75 said:

    Agreed that drainback would be good solution for overheating and freezing. It would have to be very carefully and meticulously constructed however.
    I'm not sure how well a "predominantly north west facing that isn't much good for pv" roof-plane orientation would perform...for thermal heating. What am I missing? I'd like to see the mention of the word "south" as in south-east, south-west etc. "North"?...notsomuch.

    No question that solar south at latitude is best location. A bit steeper for heating applications for winter sun. Around here the PV installers use the roof they have available. East, west, south or any variation of that. Ground mounts are another option for PV, not as easy with ST.

    I've known installers to use glycol in drainbacks for extra protection against the unknown??

    Here is my single panel, 50 gallon system at 30 degree roof pitch facing N,S E & W. Facing south I get a 53% SF. North would drop to 28%. But I would also have snow issues also facing north. Most of the new solar controllers have east/ west settings, sensor both collectors and they contribute when they can.

    Interestingly Wisconsin and Oregon have the some of the highest % of ST. They along with N. Carolina have had strong, active solar associations, training at community collages, good incentives, etc.
    SW states are most likely to have ST as part of the heating. Low temperature radiant and 300 plus days of sunshine make it more viable. The graph shows how operating temperature of the collector drives efficiency.

    Solar thermal becomes sellable when 3 things line up. Incentives to cover 50% of the cost. High fuel prices. Consumer awareness to renewable energy, instability in the fossil fuel industry.

    Others install solar to feel they are contributing to some energy independence, whether it makes financial sense or not. Plenty of status symbol solar in California.
    I live in a very red state, and Teslas are catching up to Subaru as the "state car."
    The Ford dealer claims one of the highest % of Ford Lightings on order. I suspect many will be "lifted" that seems like a must have for pickup owners in these parts :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JakeCK
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,899
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    Do we know any tinkerers that have used unglazed solar thermal in combination with a water-to-water heat pump + ice storage? The potential of maximizing panel efficiency by using a low temp fluid and keeping the heat pump’s source temp hovering around 32 degrees is intriguing. 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,403
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    hot_rod said:

    Some folks like coal, some steam, some oil, some FA hvac, I chose solar as my passion.
    Makes perfect sense, the sun is free after all, and it will continue to burn for another 5,000,000,000 years. How many watts of energy does earth receive from the sun for every sq ft of surface?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    1 kilowatt per square meter, measured in the plane perpendicular to the direction of the sun (close enough, anyway). Makes it very easy to remember!

    Among various uses of solar energy, solar hot water for domestic hot water is usually pretty good -- and relatively simple. As a heat source for passive or semi-passive (that is, limited to a single fan), it is not at all difficult to design a house or other building -- even in remarkably northern or cloudy situations -- which can get all the needed heat from the sun. And doesn't even look that odd or require big tanks or special construction (though it does require, in more northern climes, heavy masonry and very good insulation). I've been involved with the design and construction of several of them in New England. I've never been much of a fan of active solar heating, involving collectors and pumps and fancy controls and tanks. Much too complicated -- unnecessarily so.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    JakeCK said:
    hot_rod said:

    Some folks like coal, some steam, some oil, some FA hvac, I chose solar as my passion.
    Makes perfect sense, the sun is free after all, and it will continue to burn for another 5,000,000,000 years. How many watts of energy does earth receive from the sun for every sq ft of surface?
    A “full sun” is considered 317 btu/sq ft.  Just like a heat load number, that is an instantaneous figure, it can change second by second.

    In one hour more sunlight falls on the earth than what is used by its entire population in one year.

    In one second the sun releases more energy than has been used by mankind since the beginning of recorded history.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    An interesting -- and somewhat relevant -- side note to that solar constant figure. The R value of a double pane window, or single pane with a storm, is usually quoted at around 3. If the window doesn't have a reflective coating or tint of some sort, more than 70% or the sunlight falling on it will get through.

    So... a window in full sun will be gaining about 200 BTUh per square foot. If the temperature difference across the window is 70 F, it will only be losing about 25 BTUh per square foot. No wonder the cat likes to lie in the sun...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
    edited April 2022
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    I've never been much of a fan of active solar heating, involving collectors and pumps and fancy controls and tanks. Much too complicated -- unnecessarily so.

    Not unlike a DHW recirculation system really, pump, tank, temperature control. If that is too complicated for a plumber, or engineer :), they may be in the wrong business.

    Much less commotion going on with solar thermal compared to a modern boiler, heat pump, auto, etc.

    "Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable"
    Mary Oliver
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JakeCK
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    I've always been a fan of passive solar too. Quite possibly no additional costs for installation, just an architect that has some brain cells firing properly to take advantage of solar by putting the windows on he proper sides of a home or laying out the home well in the first place. Unfortunately, architects like that, along with really good engineers seem to have largely disappeared after WWII. Even here in northern Illinois, the savings for using passive solar in the simplest of frame homes is about 30% or more. The advantage of a thermally efficient building really pays off with passive solar. My previous thermally efficient home had loads of south and east facing glass. When we had the home on the market over 2 northern Illinois winters and the thermostat set at 62, our mid winter gas bills for 3,200 sq ft of above grade space were about $60.00. Probably adding an active system too would have brought the heating fuel needs to near 0.
    I wish people would begin working on getting the basics right first.... good thermal performance and designing the building to the site.... before pushing all sorts of high tech. Its like the old carburated 340 v-8 Dodge Darts that get in the upper 20's for highway mileage.....Good basic design can get you a long ways. We certainly need more of it. I've been tempted to just build a glass shed on the south side of my house with a plain tank painted black to provide DHW or even supplementary gravity heating. However, I still have thermal improvement to make that are probably more effective.
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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,759
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    Upper 20s on highway is good design?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    WE are talking a 1972, in what is today considered a full size vehicle with about 325HP, 340 cubic inch v-8 with no electronic controls except maybe the ignition. I'd say that's a very good design. The current Dodge Challenger, with all the technology of today, has about the same displacement and 375 HP, but only gets 23 highway.
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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    Not only that, but the '72 Dart was heavy in comparison to a Challenger of today -- and a lot of what determines gas mileage for highway driving is sheer weight. The biggest difference between then and now in straight gasoline engine vehicles is the weight, so far as highway driving is concerned -- and if the older ones are kept tuned. Modern vehicles with fuel injection (particularly mulli-port or direct) and full electronically controlled ignition perform hundreds of calculations -- maybe thousands -- per second and adjust the injected fuel volume and spark timing continuously to minimize emissions and maximize economy and performance. The engine itself can be in pretty tough shape, and the spark plugs look like something left over from the war, but the thing will still run well -- until it quits altogether or the money light comes on. Older cars with carburetors and mechanical ignition, not so much. You have to pay attention to them. If you do, they can run very nearly as well and as economically. If you don't (and most folks didn't -- collectors do!) they could be really bad.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    Actually the Dart was about 1200 lbs lighter than the challenger, as little as 2850 lbs ( probably slant six, stripped down),
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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    oops. I thought it was heavier. Oh well... learn something every day! The slant six was an interesting approach...

    Many of the older cars were heavier... I guess not all!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    The Chrysler's from the mid 1960's forward were all CAD designed unibodies (the last full frame being the Imperial) and always seem to be lightest of the big three in each model size. It really is crazy that a 1972 Dodge Dart, with all the space it has with a big trunk is about 200 to 400 lbs lighter than todays compact cars. I believe most new cars are much heavier than old cars. Another example: The 2001VW Golf is about 3,000 lbs about 900 to 1000 lbs heavier than the 1978 Rabbit.... fully 50% more weight( it is bigger though I am not sure if has any more room). I think you'll find this with about every car made today...all have gained a lot of weight. Added crash protection, and other options certainly add weight, but it appears that much of the weight gain probably has more to do with poor design.

    That light weight explains why smallblock v-8 Darts and Dusters could handily beat big block equipped Chevelles and Buick Grand Sport Stage Ones on the drag strip. The stripped down weight for slant six Dart drag racers is 2,000lbs.
    I suspect the slant six was the inspiration for all the slant 4 bangers used in cars today....lower center of gravity and lower hood height for better aero. Good engineering right at the basic level.
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    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    edited April 2022
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    Old cars....big cars are incredibly light for their size by today's standards. The old steel bumpers and steel dash aren't anything more than stamped metal. No crash test to comply with etc. 

    Safety has most to do with today's cars being much heavier. Back then you just had to make a car which looked appealing to the buying public and rode/handled on par for the time...which was pretty bad! 

    Engines and drivetrain were about the only heavy part of an old car. And even then the 3 or 4 speed transmission was much lighter even with all iron and steel compared to today's 9 and 10 speed aluminum automatics. 

    This 352 cubic inch V8 box gets 18 mpg on our regular 10% ethanol gas. I put a late 70s overdrive 4 speed in it last year...also cast iron. 

    My 59 Galaxie 500 with all iron everything and over 17 feet long and 77" wide only comes in at just under 3600 lbs. It's just a big tin can really. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    The Chrysler's from the mid 1960's forward were all CAD designed unibodies (the last full frame being the Imperial) and always seem to be lightest of the big three in each model size. It really is crazy that a 1972 Dodge Dart, with all the space it has with a big trunk is about 200 to 400 lbs lighter than todays compact cars. I believe most new cars are much heavier than old cars. Another example: The 2001VW Golf is about 3,000 lbs about 900 to 1000 lbs heavier than the 1978 Rabbit.... fully 50% more weight( it is bigger though I am not sure if has any more room). I think you'll find this with about every car made today...all have gained a lot of weight. Added crash protection, and other options certainly add weight, but it appears that much of the weight gain probably has more to do with poor design.

    That light weight explains why smallblock v-8 Darts and Dusters could handily beat big block equipped Chevelles and Buick Grand Sport Stage Ones on the drag strip. The stripped down weight for slant six Dart drag racers is 2,000lbs.
    I suspect the slant six was the inspiration for all the slant 4 bangers used in cars today....lower center of gravity and lower hood height for better aero. Good engineering right at the basic level.

    A 72 challenger 340, 4 speed turned about a 15.6 1/4 mile, factory numbers.

    My 2019 Rav 4 hybrid, soccer mom car, claims a 15 sec 1/4 mile, gets over 40 mpg in the city. The tailpipe is still shiny silver on the inside after 3 years :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JakeCK
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    My '66 Gran Sport turned 10.2... and wasn't even set up properly for the strip.

    I do love the older cars, and I like to work on them. That said, however, I must admit that the newer ones -- 21st century ones -- are more reliable and last longer and are safer. In many ways they're also easier to maintain, but only if you have the diagnostic equipment and know how to use it. The amount of information one can extract about a misbehaving engine or transmission or even brakes with modern diagnostic software plugged into the car is truly astonishing. Which is probably a good thing, as the complexity is truly astonishing, too! I do tend to think that they are more consumables, though, than fix it and keep it running. The sensors -- most of them -- are simple enough and usually replaceable (although after-market substitutes don't always behave), but the computers themselves? Not so much. If it isn't made any more, it isn't made, and unless you can find one in a scrap yard which works, you've had it.

    Also on older cars -- I have a feeling (maybe it's just me?) that there was a kind of period between say '71 or '72 and mid to late '90s when things were pretty strange.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    My '66 Gran Sport turned 10.2... and wasn't even set up properly for the strip.

    I do love the older cars, and I like to work on them. That said, however, I must admit that the newer ones -- 21st century ones -- are more reliable and last longer and are safer. In many ways they're also easier to maintain, but only if you have the diagnostic equipment and know how to use it. The amount of information one can extract about a misbehaving engine or transmission or even brakes with modern diagnostic software plugged into the car is truly astonishing. Which is probably a good thing, as the complexity is truly astonishing, too! I do tend to think that they are more consumables, though, than fix it and keep it running. The sensors -- most of them -- are simple enough and usually replaceable (although after-market substitutes don't always behave), but the computers themselves? Not so much. If it isn't made any more, it isn't made, and unless you can find one in a scrap yard which works, you've had it.

    Also on older cars -- I have a feeling (maybe it's just me?) that there was a kind of period between say '71 or '72 and mid to late '90s when things were pretty strange.

    A box stock 401 turning 10 in the 1/4 would be a thing to behold :)

    The price is the bigger shock!
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,843
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    I think at least in the north cars last far longer now than they did in the past. You can have a 20 year old car now that only has a little rust, 30 years ago it was done after 10-15 years from the road salt.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
    edited April 2022
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    Yeah... the price is a bit of a shock. As I recall, mine -- which was a convertible! -- was just a shade over $3,000 when I bought it new. When I sold it in '94, with a bit over 150,000 miles on it (I didn't use it much, the last 10 years or so) and needing a good bit of body work, it went for $5,000... and when the buyer's van came to pick it up they were astonished that it ran (which it did, just fine, thank you).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    New cars are certainly easier to maintain, though, I wonder if the upfront cost completely wipes out the maintenance savings. Regarding rust out, however, I'm not sure we've made progress. My 2002 Ford E 250 van had large holes in the rocker panels and in the load floor after only 4 years. I Ziebarted by 2017 Chevy Express Van as I did with my rebuilt 1998 Escort Wagon (bought in Southern CA). The van has the 2.8 Diesel so I hope to have it around 12 to 15 years or more, so the rust our warranty sounds real good to me.
    Well back to Solar....
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  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,403
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    My '66 Gran Sport turned 10.2... and wasn't even set up properly for the strip. I do love the older cars, and I like to work on them. That said, however, I must admit that the newer ones -- 21st century ones -- are more reliable and last longer and are safer. In many ways they're also easier to maintain, but only if you have the diagnostic equipment and know how to use it. The amount of information one can extract about a misbehaving engine or transmission or even brakes with modern diagnostic software plugged into the car is truly astonishing. Which is probably a good thing, as the complexity is truly astonishing, too! I do tend to think that they are more consumables, though, than fix it and keep it running. The sensors -- most of them -- are simple enough and usually replaceable (although after-market substitutes don't always behave), but the computers themselves? Not so much. If it isn't made any more, it isn't made, and unless you can find one in a scrap yard which works, you've had it. Also on older cars -- I have a feeling (maybe it's just me?) that there was a kind of period between say '71 or '72 and mid to late '90s when things were pretty strange.
    They are easier to do diagnostics on with the right computer equipment. That is for sure. I have a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter that I connect to my laptop, and I run a program called forscan that allows me to get into just about every computer module on my 13' f150. Just got to make sure to can access all the canbus networks. You would be amazed at what I can do with the truck from my living room couch. Also the computer modules are surprisingly interchangeable between models, at least with fords. I can take the large sync 2 touch screen and sync computer module from the wife's 18' fusion and make it work with my my truck. And it will actually have near full functionality. The only missing functions would be from features not present on my truck such as the heated seats. But even that wouldn't be an issue. With forscan I can turn off those options in the sync module and make those menus go away. In other words finding a compatible module is surprisingly easy as long as you know how to reprogram it. 

    I actually upgraded my trucks gauge cluster with a 14' f150s. My truck is the lower trim stx, it only had the basic 2 line read out on the gauge cluster. I added one with the full color "productivity screen" as Ford calls it from an xlt. I only had to load my old gauge clusters asbuilt data. The milage was the only tricky part. I bought one with a little more milage and waited until I was at that milage on the truck before I swapped them. Changing the milage on the odo is legally questionable to say the least and requires something like a jtag to rewrite the memory for it. Now the whole process between programming and actually installing it takes less than 20 minutes. Two bolts for the trim piece, and 6 for the actual cluster, put the shifter all the way down to 2gear I believe to give you more clearance, also tilt the wheel down, and unplug the one plug on the back of the cluster and it is out. You also have to change out the button pack on one side of the steering wheel other wise you'll have a hard time navigating the screen. That does require the removal of the airbag module in the steering wheel. Gotta be careful there. But the whole process is easy. The same holds true for just about every other computer module on the truck. 

    Also do not believe a word the people at the dealership say. Most of them are ignorant of the truth or are liers. 

    All of the 'stock' upgrades I have done to my truck with the exception of the trailer brake controller are not possible according to the fine, well trained techs at the stealerships. Upgrading the gauge cluster? Nope sorry those are vin locked can't do it, adding the door code keypad? Nope, but we can sell you a stick on one that looks like poop and requires a battery. Adding the automatic headlights? Sorry can't be done, wiring is not there and the computer is different, adding the built in compass module? Nope also not possible... BS, BS, BS, and more BS. I have done all of those and they took less than an hour to complete. All done at once I could have probably done it all in less than 2 hours. I also installed the tow mirrors which come with the turn signal, puddle lights, and heating element for the mirrors. The heating element only doesn't work because I haven't felt like changing out HVAC controls in the dash. That is a 10 minute change out and doesn't even require reprogramming the computer. That oddly enough is hardwired, no computer module is involved. 


  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,759
    edited April 2022
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    New cars are certainly easier to maintain, though, I wonder if the upfront cost completely wipes out the maintenance savings. Regarding rust out, however, I'm not sure we've made progress. My 2002 Ford E 250 van had large holes in the rocker panels and in the load floor after only 4 years. I Ziebarted by 2017 Chevy Express Van as I did with my rebuilt 1998 Escort Wagon (bought in Southern CA). The van has the 2.8 Diesel so I hope to have it around 12 to 15 years or more, so the rust our warranty sounds real good to me.
    Well back to Solar....

    A 1970 Dodge Dart (my first car was a 1970 Slant-6 Valiant, its fraternal twin) listed for $2261 which is $17,000 in today's dollars, so much for the upfront cost savings. A 2022 Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio is $17,000 and I know which one I would put in a "how long will it run reliably with just regular maintenance" contest.

    The current Dodge Challenger, with all the technology of today, has about the same displacement and 375 HP, but only gets 23 highway.


    That is designed for something, but nothing I'm interested in. People buy that and then complain about high gas prices.

    To me, the idea that designs of today by any car company are worse than designs of 1970 are rather comical. I mean, I like nostalgia too, but come on. You can drive a car today 100,000 without changing the oil. In 1970 100,000 was elderly death time for the average car.

    For solar content, I know I've mentioned it before but I put an evaporation tube system on my roof which worked great but the payback was going to be a lot of years. I'd only recommend it if you want to do it for a hobby like I did. Even resistive electrical hot water is only $600-$800 dollars a year or so. If you want to make that cheaper, get a heat pump water heater, it's almost free to heat.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    New cars are certainly easier to maintain, though, I wonder if the upfront cost completely wipes out the maintenance savings. Regarding rust out, however, I'm not sure we've made progress. My 2002 Ford E 250 van had large holes in the rocker panels and in the load floor after only 4 years. I Ziebarted by 2017 Chevy Express Van as I did with my rebuilt 1998 Escort Wagon (bought in Southern CA). The van has the 2.8 Diesel so I hope to have it around 12 to 15 years or more, so the rust our warranty sounds real good to me.
    Well back to Solar....

    A 1970 Dodge Dart (my first car was a 1970 Slant-6 Valiant, its fraternal twin) listed for $2261 which is $17,000 in today's dollars, so much for the upfront cost savings. A 2022 Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio is $17,000 and I know which one I would put in a "how long will it run reliably with just regular maintenance" contest.

    The current Dodge Challenger, with all the technology of today, has about the same displacement and 375 HP, but only gets 23 highway.


    That is designed for something, but nothing I'm interested in. People buy that and then complain about high gas prices.

    To me, the idea that designs of today by any car company are worse than designs of 1970 are rather comical. I mean, I like nostalgia too, but come on. You can drive a car today 100,000 without changing the oil. In 1970 100,000 was elderly death time for the average car.

    For solar content, I know I've mentioned it before but I put an evaporation tube system on my roof which worked great but the payback was going to be a lot of years. I'd only recommend it if you want to do it for a hobby like I did. Even resistive electrical hot water is only $600-$800 dollars a year or so. If you want to make that cheaper, get a heat pump water heater, it's almost free to heat.


    But the Kia's you're using as an example have about 1/2 the size of the Dart/ Valiant. You need to compare these cars to an equivalent sized car of today...a mid to full size car like the Challenger. What's the price of an equivalent sized vehicle. It's not comical that the same size car produced today weighs 1200 lbs more than these early CAD designed Chyrslers from the 1960's. Something seems to be fundamentally poor in these radically heavier vehicles.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,899
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    @The Steam Whisperer the Dart/Valiant and Accent are basically the same size on the inside! Newer cars might not be as long but are usually more efficiently designed.
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    @The Steam Whisperer the Dart/Valiant and Accent are basically the same size on the inside! Newer cars might not be as long but are usually more efficiently designed.

    They are. And safer. And more economical to run. And, with a few outstanding exceptions, about as much fun as a bowl of cool noodles.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hot_water_fanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    Safety. That's what makes today's cars much heavier that cars of 50+ years ago. A compact car today weighs what a full size car did 50 years ago. 

    But that big old car was just a big tin can of you got in a wreck. Cars today are designed to cushion and fold to absorb the impact so you can (hopefully) walk away. 

    Back in the day....a wreck was likely fatal. But those extra pounds and added emissions regulations, today's cars are not much more (if not worse) economical miles/gallon wise. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    ethicalpaul