Adding Some Insulation

We’ve covered how weather proofing is a necessary step to protect your facility through harsh winters. A good chill will cause pipes to burst everywhere, as the Russian Navy now knows so well. Preventing disaster isn’t the only reason to start weather proofing: it saves you money too.   The Laws of Thermodynamics We have one big problem when it comes to comfort: the air and everything touches it wants to reach an equal temperature. We mean that heat will flow from places of high concentration to low concentration (things cool down) and consequently coolness will flow from places of high concentration to low concentration (things heat up). This is something self evident of course, it’s something we experience every day. What’s not so apparent is that every hot object that cools down costs you money. We’ve just put heat into water, which has heated the pipe. The pipe cools down, the water cools down, and slowly we have these losses. Every time we send hot water through those pipes, the water cools down until it’s heated the pipe to the same temperature. The pipe is cooled by the air, and we get this slow, parasitic loss of heat. Every bit of heat we lose is more fuel we burn to heat more water. At scale, such as in a warehouse, school, or hotel, this is going to add up to a lot of money. Let’s imagine it costs you […]

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Measuring the Heat

Have you ever wondered how your heating system knows to turn on? Or to turn off? You could say “the furnace controller tells it to” and “the thermostat tells it to,” but that’s not the whole picture, is it? We need a way to measure the temperature inside the furnace and inside our homes. It has to be durable, reliable, and affordable. It doesn’t have to be precise, but it must be right every time it’s measured.   A Complex Web of Technology There are a staggering number of ways to control a furnace through temperature input. A brief and nowhere near all-inclusive list of techniques include: Gas Expansion Tubes, Bi-Metal Switches, Bi-Metal Coils, Thermocouples Driven by a Pilot-Light, Thermistors, and of course modern IR Temperature Sensors found in your enthusiast-chef’s kitchen. These devices are all in some way sensitive to the heat. Bi-Metal systems expand as temperatures change. Measuring the expansion reads the approximate temperature. Gas Expansion Tubes have an internal change in pressure as temperature changes. The pressure can be used to calculate temperature. Thermocouples generate an electrical current when they’re heated. Measuring the current allows you to determine the temperature. Inside a furnace, they’re often heated directly by the pilot light or burner to read flame temperatures. Infrared Thermometers measure “Blackbody (Wikipedia Link)” radiation, but aren’t all that effective around metals or the air. And lastly, we have the humble Thermistor, which varies it’s resistance based on […]

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A Rubberband Cooling System

Have you ever come across something so weird, that you had to try it on the spot, then stalled the entire company with “Hey Bob! You gotta try this!?” Then, that phrase spreads like a plague, until everyone’s doing nothing but that weird thing. Well. We did. While researching some topics to share with you, dear readers, I discovered that Rubber Bands are a refrigerant. Kind of. When you stretch one, it heats up, then cools down. When you let it return to it’s original length, it gets cold. The temperature variance is perhaps 10-20 degrees from max cool to max heat. It’s something significant. Significant enough to even build a fridge of sorts. That’s right. The next time your stranded in the late 1800s, you can make a rubber-powered air conditioner for your little cabin on the prairie. For the proof, check out this youtube video we’ve just watched three or four times. At first we were looking for the hidden ice or a fan, but… after extensive testing of rubber bands, we’re sure it’s real.   Weird, right? The Wrap Up So, as always, what do you want us to cover? Let us know in the comments below.

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