September 1 , 2000
A Bridge over Doubled Circulators
Okay, I know it's a stretch but I felt compelled to some how fit Simon and Garfunkel's song into the title.
This week the bridge was completed from the second floor deck to the hill in back of the house. The idea of building a bridge was a low priority until it was decided that the solar collectors were to be located on the hill.
Why mount the collectors on the hill?
Since our roof does not have enough square footage to mount all of the solar collectors, we had to make a decision where to mount them. (In my opinion, if you have the space, mount them on the ground. Roof mounts are a pain to install and maintenance isn't much fun either.) We could have mounted them down the hill in front of our house, but it would partially block the scenic view of the valley. The next logical area was in back of the house, but we weren't sure if any trees would interfere with the low angle of the winter sun.
Borrowing a solar finder from Next Step Energy, we surveyed the hill to make sure that there were no major obstructions in the way of the winter sun. There are professional solar finders available for various latitudes, but you can also make one yourself if you would like. This model shown here appears to be a finely crafted home made model. Just make sure that it is set for your area's proper latitude. To use it, a leveled translucent grid is pointed due south. Viewing is accomplished by peering through a door peep hole. When viewed, the grid is superimposed over the view of the southern horizon. The time of year that we are most interested in collecting solar heat is during the winter months, especially January and February when typically our area receives the most sunny days. Our site showed no major obstructions during the peek production hours of 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.
So now that we had determined the location of the panels, the next step was to figure out how to get the heat from the panels to the sand bed under the floor. We could have trenched in the piping from the panels to the house, but it didn't seem like much fun and the more plumbing that you can keep above ground the better.
The bridge, as it turns out, makes a great raceway for the solar collector tubing and also serves as a good location to mount the two DC powered circulating pumps. The circulating pumps can be a bit whiny at times, (No, I'm not going to interject a joke about the wife here -- wouldn't be prudent.) so why not keep them outside where they can whine all they want?
Here's a photo of the completed bridge along with a "John Madden" view of where everything will go. As you can see, the bridge will be over the two (doubled) circulators. So when you're weary, feeling small...