When I built my berm-house three years ago, I installed radiant tubing inside the concrete for future use. The comfort level and toasty toes are calling my name. I'd love to design a system to provide 100% of my heating needs with solar power for the pumps, controls, etc. so that I'd never have to worry about heat during a power outage.
My first choice WAS an up scaled version of Gary Reysa's system here. http://builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/DHWplusSpace/Main.htm I'm just scared that no matter how big I build the collectors and tank, it wouldn't supply our needs on those coldest, cloudy days. Then a few weeks ago when I discovered rocket stoves and heaters a light bulb came on. I could design a hybrid solar/rocket boiler that would allow me to just build a fire when the solar isn't pulling it's weight to get me through the worst days.
Then another bulb came on. I could just do the rocket boiler, save my money on the solar system, and it will work perfectly. I know that youtube is a wonderful place to get ideas to kill yourself, but just look at this design to see if it could work. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=epSy4kZ44jU
Here are my questions:
1. Is there a safe way to heat water in a large tank like Gary did with a rocket stove? My stove and tank will be in a dedicated shed directly behind the house by the way.
2. How often would I have to build a fire to generate enough heat to carry me through a single digit day? I just used around 600 kW hrs to heat last month in the coldest winter that southern KY has seen in long time.
3. Will it work?
It would be wonderful to hear from someone who has done something similar. But I know that there are lots of knowledgable folks that are willing to help. So thanks in advance.