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DIY Fridge with water from stream?  RSS feed

 
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We have both a well and a stream on our land. The well water is cold (haven't measured the exact temperature yet, but definitely under 10 degrees C).

I'd like to use this water to cool a refrigerator-like device and I'm looking for any tips/experiences/building plans.
Best to buy an insulated old fridge and try to circulate the water in it? Or build some sort of metal box from scratch?
 
pollinator
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It depends on what you have available. If you have a scrapped refrigerator with the cooling system intact, you could try piping water through it, in which case it would definitely work.

You could also build your own. A lidded metal trunk, some weather stripping, some copper tubing, and some kind of outer enclosure including insulation will do the trick nicely.

They used to have springhouses, well houses, and the like, usually masonry structures that took advantage of the cooling effect of the water.

Another idea, if it's an open well, is to have a bucket on a rope or chain that lowers into the well water itself. This is only suitable for sealed items, probably glass. I would only use this method if it were convenient, or if I had medications that needed to be kept refrigerated. I don't think much would fit in this scenario, and what else would you put there? Milk? A six-pack?

I am intrigued by the possibility of a spring-sourced watercourse with a ram pump in it that, with its own flow, moves cold water through the coils of a refrigerator. That would be amazing.

-CK
 
gardener
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Before Refrigeration, it was almost impossible to run a dairy unless you had a Spring House. Cold water was brought into a tank where the water level was a little bit lower than the top of the big metal milk cans.

I have used a very primitive version of this for myself. I sometimes bring in cold pond water in a big stainless pot. Then the stuff I'm trying to keep cold goes in a smaller pot that rests inside. It's like a double boiler only we're not boiling. The whole thing gets covered with a blanket.

Right now I have a beautiful big fridge in a house that I'm working on, which has no electricity. The nights are cold and it warms up during the day. Yesterday morning I broke the ice on a big puddle and put it in the vegetable crisper. This kept my food just above freezing and it appears that I will have ice in there for the next few days.

I have another simpler and even more primitive method. I often leave things like cooked meats in a container on the dash of my car, when I'm sleeping at job sites, this time of year. It gets very cold as soon as the sun goes down. When I wake up in the morning, the items are wrapped in a thick blanket so that it remains cold.

I have also used the cold ground on the north side of my cabin. A pit about 18 in deep receives the container of food, during the summer. Then a piece of plywood followed by some old carpet, insulates it. On days that reach 80° Fahrenheit, stuff in the pit is kept at about 55 degrees.

None of these methods are going to work for me in the Philippines, so I guess it's time to buy solar panels.
 
Chris Kott
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Is it too humid for evaporative cooling there, Dale? Because if it wasn't, I would think that a person-sized crock with a lid, filled with water, with a wicking cloth half-in, half-out, would work well to cool a block building, kept in a central chamber.

I bet it would work for food, too, but the air needs to be dry enough to evapourate the water from the cloth.

-CK
 
pollinator
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Take a look at these:

Coolgardie Safe & Zeer Pot

Not as good as a spring house, but also less location-sensitive, take a gallon of the cold water every morning, and you can put these wherever you want, no need for piping.
 
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Edit:
The owner of the videos linked below has disabled embedded playback. To possibly make watching them a little more convenient, here are direct links to watch them on youtube.
First Video      Second Video
/Edit




 
pollinator
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There's an old, dilapidated homestead on my land and it was literally built right on top of a stream. I always wondered why they did that - it's a VERY small stream and does tend to go dry in the summer, but it seems like it would have had an inherent risk of flooding so I just never understood it.

About a year ago or so, some of the youngest children (now in their 80s mostly) came one day for a visit and we had a great time chatting with them. Found out that it was intentionally built that way and they had build the home up a bit so there was space to accommodate any flooding but it never flooded the house. Most importantly, there was a trap door in the bottom of the floor with a hole dug out a bit deeper so even when the stream was "dry" in the summer, there was still a little water in there. Apparently they used to set a metal box with cold foods in there and draw it up through the trap door to use it as needed.

I thought that was quite interesting, not that I'd ever want to build my house on top of a stream but I liked the concept of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Chris Kott wrote:Is it too humid for evaporative cooling there, Dale? Because if it wasn't, I would think that a person-sized crock with a lid, filled with water, with a wicking cloth half-in, half-out, would work well to cool a block building, kept in a central chamber.

I bet it would work for food, too, but the air needs to be dry enough to evapourate the water from the cloth.

-CK



I used evaporative cooling on my body every day I was there. Some days I would wet my shirt 8 or 10 times. Household air conditioning was done using wet laundry. Even when the humidity is 85%, there is some evaporation.

When riding a motorbike during the heat, I wet a nice thick snug fitting shirt, similar to those worn by superheroes. The air blowing through the shirt kept me nice and air conditioned while traveling.

Food was sometimes kept under a damp towel. We found the most important thing with fruits and vegetables, was separation. A whole bunch of fruit and vegetables jammed together on a table in the heat, will develop rotten spots where they touch in a day or two. But items could sit for many days if separated. The number one way to rot stuff, is to leave it in a plastic bag. I found this to be true even in a refrigerator.

The coolest part of the home was the rear lean-to that is used for laundry drying. It has a very porous, concrete floor. I would spray the concrete floor and get a couple of days of evaporative cooling.

When I was in Kisumu, Kenya, the humidity was usually in the high nineties. We couldn't get clothing to dry completely during a hot sunny day. Most drying occurred between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., when we would often get rain. So we really had to watch the weather windows. But the wet clothing on my body, still eventually dried and I was much more comfortable because of it.
............
Ants were a problem. Ants are really attracted to many foods and the most effective way to keep them out is with a water trap. The largest plates were reserved for this. After cooking something that is to be kept for later, the pot is placed in the center of a pool of water on one of these plates, so that there is a moat.
 
pollinator
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T. Melville, those are interesting vids.  Thanks for embedding them. 👍 Had to watch them on Youtube of course, but The guy whose channel they come from is real interesting.
 
T Melville
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Joel Bercardin wrote:T. Melville, those are interesting vids.  Thanks for embedding them. 👍 Had to watch them on Youtube of course, but The guy whose channel they come from is real interesting.



Sorry, I watch with an app on my phone. I hadn't realized a youtube channel could block embedded playback. Probably worth the extra step to watch, though, since the project in the videos is almost exactly what the original poster described.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Refrigeration this week is very simple. Break ice on puddles and put it in the crisper. I could see setting up a system on the roof in many areas that have cold nights. Fill a shallow tray in the evening and have it drained down into the cooler at dawn.
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Whatever you say buddy! And I believe this tiny ad too:
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