Making the big switch — 13 Comments

  1. A friend of mine gets his water from a bore hole, and it's got a high iron content. Whatever, it certainly corrodes the fuck out of immersion heaters. Two ordinary ones have failed in the last 3 years, each time causing an earth fault, and putting the trip out. He's now got a hideously expensive stainless steel cylinder and heaters, which hopefully won't suffer…

    The only sure way of determining what's causing your problem is to test each appliance with a megger – although a GOOD DVM (digital multimeter) with a 20 or 200 meg resistance scale might show it up. You would have to completely disconnect the heater from the mains and test each leg to earth. There should be NO reading at all.

    Do you know a good electrician locally – the sort who isn't going to try and find loads of things wrong in order to condemn the house with the hope of landing himself I nice job?


    • I have decided the simplest solution is to convince myself that I don't have a problem.  It has been working perfectly now for over four days without a glitch, so if it trips again in the future, I at least know how to rest it.

      I know a few electricians.  Can't afford the mortgage to pay for 'em though.

    • Bloody hell!  A stainless steel tank?  See Microdave's comment above – "a hideously expensive stainless steel cylinder"

      It looks like a nice idea though but I'm not sure I'm up to freezing my arse off in the garden lighting rockets if Herself should ever decide to have a shower during the winter months.

      That design looks hopelessly inefficient by the way?  The hot gas heats a tank which heats the water which heats the coil which heats the water?  There must be a more efficient way?

      • My open face coal fire has a plain old steel wrap around boiler which moves the hot water it produces via the thermo siphon effect to a 38mm copper coil inside a copper cylinder which stores hot water.  I am guessing your cylinder with the intermittent element doesn't have such a thing. (I feel like I am telling you how to suck eggs.) Were it possible for me to replace the open coal fire with a rocket stove I'd do it in an instant. Perhaps I am thinking too much inside the box and should investigate this further.

        The former video shows a stove that provides enough hot water for 60 showers during a  twenty to thirty minute burn and the rocket stove produces hot gases that heats a water jacket inside a scrounged stainless steel cylinder, perhaps they are common in Australia. The the stainless cylinder contains the coil taking cold water from the header through to the showers picking up heat along the way.

        Were I not currently located in terraced house this rocket stove tech which creates such an efficient burn it becomes smokeless would be heating the water and the home on twigs and kindling.

        Here's another which would be the the one I would construct assuming I had the room

        Twigs and scrap wood/kindling and possibly a little inconvenience or electrickery or gas which are only ever going to increase in cost. Seems a very good way to hit the fuckers in their pockets and keep your brass in yours.

        • The planet is fucked.You-gasp-burn coal.The principle is sound  regarding the stoves.Get some asbestos sheeting and fireproof your house,then burn the rest of the terrace down.That will save on fuel costs.

          By  the way,I've got about 50 sheets which I can let you have cheap.

          No need to thank me.

        • I installed a full central heating system in my first house that was powered by a back boiler.  Damned efficient it was too!  And yes, of course it had a secondary coil running through the immersion tank.

          The system I have now is an immersion tank mounted behind a kerosene  burner which is heated also by a secondary coil.  I usually don't bother lighting the main burner until late afternoon or evening so the electric element is just a stand-by for a drop of hot water during the day.  One of these years I may well replace the kerosene burner with a wood stove.

          When I commented on the efficiency, I was concerned at the number of heat transfers involved.  Assuming a substantial loss in each transfer, I would have thought it possible to make a more efficient system.  One plan that immediately jumps to mind is the old rail locomotive method – fire and smoke tubes running directly through the primary boiler.  The only major disadvantage there is that it would be a little outside the scope of your average DIY expert.


          • Locomotive boilers were producing steam (no shit Sherlock). Given the amount of fuel required to produce a 'tank full of near boiling water' is tiny perhaps the efficiency of these things is 'good enough'.
            Can't imagine even Penny after a smelly roll on the lawn would be in need of a steam shower.

            The Dutch guys version runs a hot plate, two different temperature ovens and heats the room through the thermal mass of the thing. I like it.

    • Heh!  I saw that after watching the first one.  That's the trouble with YouTube – it's too easy to get distracted by all the mini videos.

  2. "I have decided the simplest solution is to convince myself that I don't have a problem."

    Now that is the most sensible attitude to take, as I would. Mind you, my shit life may be a consequence of this outlook………

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