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Swamp Chiller - Cooling Tower - Evaporative Cooler build  RSS feed

 
Guy Marknes
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I wasn't sure of the best forum to place this, but here we go...

We have a 101 year old, double hip roofed 2 story brick home in Detroit.  On the service drive for a freeway, coupled with the additions of being the only house on the block of a 1/4 acre area, we get some pretty good average wind speeds at this height. 

My plan is to install a small tube, possibly PVC culvert pipe, inside the house's interior rear corner from basement to a few feet above the roof line.  The basement would terminate with the catch basin and drain (well system so no issue on water recycling) as well as a filter before entering the cold air system on the existing forced air wood furnace.

Above the shingles (obviously flashed through the roof) would be the remaining few feet of the tower, and a few ideas on capping it off;

Is there such a thing as a roof turbine vent that will push air down that tube, versus the traditional draw system of venting an attic or barn?

Save that, I'm contemplating a DC motor with a gable vent and mushroom cap and a solar cell mounted to the top of the cap.

Save that just a simple 4 sided aluminum box with course filter medium, two sides facing the prevailing winds in a "V".

Air would run over water supplied from irrigation misting heads.

The reason for inside the house construction is to limit the public's view, and to be able to insulate 90% or better of it's run to limit loss of any of those oh-so-precious cooling BTU's.

The idea of course is to add cooling air to the home at an almost if not complete zero cost beyond construction and to even limit the upfront.

Any ideas or suggestions?



 
eric koperek
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TO:  James Penrod
FROM:  Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT:  Swamp Cooler
DATE:  PM 7:47 Wednesday 7 September 2016
TEXT:

(1)  Forget the swamp chiller.

(2)  Much better idea:  Plant Virginia Creeper = Parthenocissus quinquefolia all around your house.  This is a fast growing perennial vine that grows well in temperate climates.  The vines have no pests or diseases and require no trellis or support.  The vines have little blob-like suckers (similar to an octopus or squid) that grip wood, brick, or vinyl siding.  Vines will not hurt your house or roof and can be easily pulled down or trimmed with kitchen scissors.  Apply mulch 8 inches deep around vines.  Water and fertilize vines weekly throughout the growing season.  You want the vines to grow fast.  Well cared for vines grow 20 feet or more the first year.  Vines shade walls and roof lowering building temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit = far better than you can do in Detroit with a swamp cooler.  (Swamp coolers are not efficient outside arid or semi-arid climates).  Virginia creeper vines require no care other than mulching, irrigation, and weekly fertilizer application.  Use any convenient soluble garden fertilizer.  Trim vines occasionally around windows.  Virginia creeper vines double the life of conventional asphalt shingles by shading the roof.  (Sunlight and heat speed shingle deterioration).

(3)  Using vines to shade buildings is a very ancient architectural practice now repackaged and called "Green Architecture" (literally).  Vines are much cheaper than any form of mechanical air conditioning.  As long as you have sunlight, this will work with minimal cost and attention for a lifetime.  Virginia creeper vines grow forever or nearly so.  My office was built at the turn of the century so my vines are now 116 years old and still healthy.  Vines are easy to prune or rip down if you need to repair your building.  Don't worry about the vines, they will grow back quickly.  Just keep adding water, fertilizer, and mulch.

ERIC KOPEREK = erickoperek@gmail.com

end comment

 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Now I'm going to have to have a serious discussion about leaving the volunteer Virginia Creepers when I weed. I'm still worried about vine tendrils growing into cracks in the mortar or siding and then forcing the cracks wider as the vine thickens over time. If this works, it could greatly reduce our summer cooling costs. I'll also note that this is a deciduous vine and so will not impede winter heat gain from the sun.
 
Glenn Herbert
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My experience with Virginia creeper is that it is much gentler than wild grape or English ivy. As Eric noted, it has sucker-like pads that seem to glue onto surfaces rather than tendrils that force their way into crevices. It also never gets the sheer mass of vine that grape or ivy grow to have. Decades-old vines can be maybe 1" diameter compared to 2-3" for old ivy or grape. The main concern I would have depending on the climate and microclimate would be moisture trapped against the wall or roof. In severe winter areas where snow buildup is a concern, I would be reluctant to have vines growing over the roof surface, as they would make snow removal or sliding off more difficult.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Be careful with the creeper; it will destroy your window screens! And it is VERY VERY hard to get rid of. It is also the favorite food of Japanese beetles; if you have these, by mid summer the plant will be skeletonized. It does not seem to faze the plant, but is ugly, and unless you do daily sweeps to shake off the beetles, it will help them grow and spread. Also, Ants can use it as a way in, and mice can use it as cover to gain access to your house. Like any vine, it can hold damp against your house, speeding decay of any materials it is against. Maybe put up a trellis for it a little away from your house.
 
Bill Erickson
steward
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Japanese beetle traps would be a great thing for catching them. If you had chickens you could then feed them to them. Saw justin rhodes doing that in one of his vlogs from this summer. Those chickens loved the things.
 
Dan Boone
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James, I'm so sorry.  You have just encountered the classic permies.com response to any interesting scheme or proposal: "Oh, you don't want to do THAT, your goals would be much more easily reached if you did this other thing" followed by an informative and animated discussion of the other thing.  It's one of our pathologies here and I do apologize for it.

As far as your cooling tower notion, I don't have any useful feedback.  Hopefully someone will see this who has tried such a thing!
 
Guy Marknes
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Well...that train went off the tracks quickly.

Unknown to those that replied, I just finished removing 2 sides of the house of poison ivy and still have about another 2 months of vine removal and mortar tucking to do, repairing the damage done by the ivy.  I have several whole bricks that have fallen out.  So...even though stated as safe, I am loathe to let anything grow on, and therefore potentially in my brick again.

Any data on why a swamp chiller or evaporative cooling tower doesn't perform efficient enough in a Michigan climate?

Any ideas on how to improve what I'm suggesting or an alternate build?

(Thank you for the Creeper input though, in another life on another structure I would probably be more than happy to do so)
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
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James,

Yes, vines are a pain.

As far as conventional swamp coolers, they tend to be used in arid climates, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado. And even here, people who have them say they make the house feel like a bog, and doors, windows, etc. swell and stick.

In a moist climate, I'm not even sure that a conventional powered one would do much, and I would guess that yours would do less, BUT I certainly don't know for sure!

In Persia, now Iran, they used wind scoops and evaporative towers like the one you are thinking about a lot, and got quite good at it. Then again, it was a dry climate and they engineered whole buildings to that end. But that is what I would research.

Let us know how it goes!
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
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James, our high humidity keeps a swamp cooler from working here.  Swamp coolers work because the water evaporating creates the cooling effect.  With high humidity, the water can't evaporate easily, and the evaporation you do get will raise the humidity in your house to the point that water will run down the inside of your windows.  I had exactly that happen when I tried to use my swamp cooler in AZ during monsoon season.  The rest of the year, swamp coolers are awesome in that climate.  I used one very successfully in CO too, where the humidity is much lower than here in the Midwest.  Here, you will get very little cooling effect, but will increase your humidity to very uncomfortable levels, and to the point that you will have mold and mildew everywhere.
 
Guy Marknes
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Well, now I know it won't work and why.  

Thank you everyone for your input.  So...idea numero Deux:

Since I have a somewhat free supply of well water, why not just run all that chill water through a coil and run air past that?  That's just an open loop geothermal heat pump right?
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
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What about running that water from the coil into a big tank in the sun, to warm up for watering the garden? (Warm water is considered by some vastly superior to cold water for irrigation.)

I guess how efficient it would be would depend on the difference between the well water and the air, and how many gallons per day would be needed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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As I understand it, the most effective way to get a cooling effect in a moist climate is to get the air to move as much as possible.  Can you build a solar chimney to passively pull cool air from the basement through the rest of the house? 

http://sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com/buildings/stack-ventilation-and-bernoullis-principle

We installed an attic fan in our house this year and it has helped a lot.  Originally we planned to put in a solar chimney but after we got our roof replaced we chickened out of making a big hole in it for the chimney.  The attic fan uses electricity, but not much and there are PV attic fans though they are more expensive.
 
Guy Marknes
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The solar chimney looks promising.  The basement is an average of 20 degrees (F) lower than the other two levels.  Though, I'm not sure how fast I can 'resupply' the basement area's Cubic Area in order for it to keep supplying the two upper floors as the chimney draws.  Our basement is less than 4 feet below grade and being literally less than the Cubic Area of any other floor (basement is 7 foot in height, second floor is 8 and first floor is 9)

I wonder how I would be able to quantify potential airflow before actually building one?
 
William Bronson
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The idea of running the chilled water through a fan to cool your air is a proven one.
I believe their is such a build documented on the Instructibles website.
 
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