Matt Todd

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since Apr 25, 2019
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Always a backyard gardener, now expanding into permaculture!
Northwest Missouri
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Recent posts by Matt Todd

I've seen a system in Colorado at 8600 feet where they dug up the soil under an existing hoop greenhouse and buried tubing maybe a foot underground. The tubing connected to an exterior solar collection panel.
So essentially a solar water heater convection loop that delivered the heat to the ground to extend their growing season. Not sure if this used a pump or not.

John C Daley wrote:The photo of the ratchet for the rope is not clear, can it be improved please?

I'll let someone elses photo in better lighting show the concept. I love these things! Mine is a smaller version.
Entirely unnecessary here since a hook and nail would do just as well, but I had it on hand and my wife is short so this is easier since she's the one that has to open it every mid-morning while I'm at work  :)
2 days ago

Tk Gillman wrote:
I wonder if it would work even better if you only opened the top of the porch windows into the house.  
I am not sure if the porch would support it, but if you had some water barrels painted black they might keep the greenhouse warmer for plants in the night

Originally, I did only open the top of the window. Then one day I opened the bottom too so the cat could go enjoy the sunshine and I noticed it only increased the volume of air pushing in.  I figure, as long as the porch air is warmer than the house air it will push in, whether that's at bottom or top window height.  Wish I had more ways to quantify and measure besides just my strip of paper indicator.

I do intend to add water drums at some point, but want to get some extra support under the porch first. Luckily there's an old sidewalk under there which will make a good foundation for support.
2 days ago
It lives! And more importantly, it works. Thanks for the feedback. Here are the details:
3 days ago
Whether or not pollinators are part of your design, any native pollinator plantings are going to be good for the local ecosystem in general and good for the plants that need pollinating if you account for spreading bloom time throughout the year. I specify native because those are the ones that will really boost biodiversity as they are hosts for the local insects to eat and even breed on.  
Pollinator specimens in your design can have stacking functions of both attracting pollinating insects and also acting as pest confusers between food bearing plants.
4 days ago
The solar porch acts on principles of passive solar thermosiphon to pull up cool air from my basement and deliver warm air into my main living space.  A convection loop with no moving parts (aside from the windows.)

Construction details:
Walls: I enclosed a 17x6 foot area of my south-facing front porch with 16mm R-2.5 triple-wall greenhouse panels. The tops of the panels insert into channel aluminum and are removable in the summer. Bottoms are held with screws and nylon washers. A Metal drip guard guides moisture off the decking.
Door: (not pictured) just a panel set in aluminum channel so that is slides.
Floor: Insulated with 1 inch R-6 rigid foam simply laid on the original decking and covered in 1/2 inch treated plywood, screwed down.
Ceiling: Added R-13 foil backed fiberglass insulation between the existing ceiling joists
Basement air box: a chute covering a basement window constructed with 3/4 treated plywood and insulated with spray foam, 1 inch rigid foam scraps, and foil bubble insulation.

Activation: I simply wait until the temps reach around 70 degrees F in the porch, then open the basement window and the top of the main floor window. Upon opening the windows, the air flow starts almost immediately.
Temperatures: Porch temps typically stay around 90 degrees on a sunny day (even with sub freezing temps outside), rising to 104 if I don't open the house windows to capitalize on the heat.
Deactivation: The windows get closed at night at about the same temp of 70 degrees, or just when I get to it.
Main heat: The house thermostat (typical forced air electric heat) is set at 66. I have no way of measuring the heat generated. It just acts as a supplement to the furnace and the furnace runs less. I will be able to compare energy usage after a couple more months.

Other/future uses:
-Makes a great sun sauna and the diffused light through the panels feels great!
-After more time studying the temp swings, I'll decide how useful this is for plants. It does stay at least 10 degrees warmer than outside overnight.
-I'd love to automate the house windows but doubt I could do so aesthetically.
-Maybe a rocket heater could fit into this equation, but only if I can't talk my wife into letting me put one in the main living space :)
-I might add a thermostatically controlled shutter or automatic hydrolic greenhouse vent to dump heat in an emergency overheat situation.
-I completed this with the input from some of you fine Permie folks in other threads, thanks!
2 weeks ago

Seth Marshall wrote:
We actually do not have a door to the basement.  Instead it is a quite large stairwell.  

I think this is a problem because no matter how much warm air you "pump" down, it would rise right back up the open stairwell with no resistance. There's nothing to keep it downstairs. Not sure of your house layout, but maybe if you pumped the hot air into a specific basement room or at least the farthest point from the stairwell then you might see some heating from this air.

Seth Marshall wrote:
When you said "fighting against the heat stratification... is a tall order", was that specifically because the room has cathedral ceilings?  Is this specifically because the duct is too long for the fan's ability or another reason?  Do you feel it would be much simpler/easier to move the air by not going all the way up to the ceiling?  Because I could use the ceiling fan to mix the air so going all the way to the ceiling isn't as important.  

I was speaking generally here. Just expressing that going from warm air at the top of a tall ceiling to the lowest point in your house is quite the battle against nature. I don't have enough technical knowledge of ducts and fans to speak to the specifics of how well you could pull air down to the basement.
2 weeks ago
Are they both the same number of walls? If the 10mm is triple wall vs 8mm double wall then definitely go 10mm. I don't know that I would trust anything less than triple wall on a roof, but we get hail here.
It's a hard decision. I scoured the internet this fall and had a pricing spreadsheet going. I went with 16mm triple wall available locally. Cost me $105 a sheet, but man that stuff is solid.Sorry you don't have Menards in New England because they were best on pricing.
3 weeks ago
Sounds like the price is right! Only concern I would have is the UV stability of the bubble wrap. I'm willing to bet it would break down over one season from the sun exposure (and likely wouldn't like the temp swings) but if you made it easy enough to replace then you might be onto something. Something cheaper than the $120 a 4x8 sheet for triple wall polycarbonate I paid.
3 weeks ago