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About billt

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  1. I find the old fashioned way works well. A few bits of screwed up news paper, some small DRY kindling, twigs etc and a match. Light the newspaper and add more small dry bits of wood slowly until you've got a reasonable fire going then you can add bigger bits until you can chuck anything on. (Doesn't work too well in a high wind, though.) Recently had a bonfire started this way to get rid of a couple of years worth of hedging. Ended up being a 4 day bonfire. The ashes are still hot, 2 weeks later.
  2. billt

    Air Quality

    Not at all, I would think. Very few people burn coal these days and most sellers of wood claim that it's dry! We're thinking of moving to a house that doesn't demand constant grounds maintenance and have been looking at available houses in the vicinity (virtually looking, of course!). It seems that most of the upmarket developments, while claiming low running costs, have a feature wood burner. Complete insanity of course; the heat should be unnecessary, they'll make a mess in the immaculate interiors and the plots are usually to small to have anywhere to store the wood. One of them had this gem of inept design, whilst claiming to be low energy - built with SIPs and using a GSHP.
  3. billt

    Variable Solar Storage with Batteries

    If it's of any interest I've been monitoring our consumption and production for several years and have modeled the performance for a battery system. The results are not very impressive. The system has just under 13kW of solar panels, facing SSW at 45 degrees. Nominal battery capacity 14.4kWhr, DOD limited to 80%. Average daily consumption is about 21kWhr, so annually about 7700kWhr. 2012 shortfall of 1370 kWhr (3 months with zero import) 2013 shortfall of 1510 kWhr (5 months with zero import) 2014 shortfall of 1180 kWhr (4 months with zero import) 2015 shortfall of 1410 kWhr (4 months with zero import) 2016 shortfall of 1410 kWhr (4 months with zero import) 2017 shortfall of 1320 kWhr (4 months with zero import)
  4. Unfortunately you can't predict the course of technology. When we started on this house in 1990 it was more or less gutted and I wanted to preempt future wiring wants. Every room has at least one telephone socket, at least one VHF socket at least one UHF socket. As computer networking was in its' infancy, at least domestically, I put in multi-core serial cables and network coax in some rooms. Now almost all of that is redundant, phones are DECT, TV is networked from a server as is sound and networking is mainly CAT5 with a bit of wireless.
  5. The rooms should be easy to fix if you aren't going to use the cables, just fit a pattress box if there isn't one, push most of the cable back into the wall leaving a short end accessible in the pattress box and cover with a blanking plate. Simple and cheap.
  6. Not in the British Isles, maybe in the US. Timber frame of the sort being discussed here, frames made with small section timber is only about 100 years old.Traditional UK timber framing of massive structural timbers with infilled panels is a completely different system and, in my view completely unsuitable for a house intended to meet modern requirements, despite it's aesthetic attractions. And here's the problem. I've no doubt that very good houses can be built with either system and probably at similar cost; which you choose depends very much on how you want to go about the build and how much involvement you have. For instance, if I were to build with my own hands I would most likely use timber frame (constructed on site) as I have no brick laying skills.If using someone else to build the choice is more open, and to some extent dependent on the external finish you want. If you re happy with render or cladding (I think they both have issues - render seems very prone to mould growth and timber cladding suffers that and discolouration unless it's painted which leads to life long maintenance), then TF is the obvious choice. If you want a brick or stone finish then it seems more rational to me to build the whole thing with masonry. There's no simple answer.
  7. billt

    Cherry Tree Pruning

    Prunus varieties are supposed to be trimmed in summer (when the sap is rising) rather than winter to reduce susceptibility to diseases such as silver leaf; if it's going to be removed anyway it's not going to matter when you prune it.
  8. billt

    Bramble and how to get rid is it

    Try SBK! Yes, cutting fairly often during the growing season gets rid of them, and you don't have to use expensive dubious weedkillers.
  9. billt

    My Nightmare Heating System

    My point is that the system is autonomous; it maintains the temperatures that I want in the rooms that I want at the times that I want heat. In warm weather heating will not be required and the system "knows" this so heat will not be delivered and I do not have to modify the controls at all. With the controls that I've seen pictured for your system I'd imagine that you shouldn't have to 'switch the heating off' at all. All our rooms are used, but they all have individual control, so it wouldn't be much of an issue to not heat individual rooms; in our house that wouldn't achieve much as it responds very slowly to heat changes and the rooms aren't thermally isolated.
  10. billt

    My Nightmare Heating System

    Our heating is never turned off by us; it monitors both the external and internal temperature and only runs when there is a need for heat. Why think about turning the heating off when you don't have to? The temperatures have dropped since I started heating with wood! We now keep the living room, dining room and kitchen at about 19 and the other rooms at about 18 during occupancy periods; they set back to about 17 at other times. You readily get used to lower temperatures than seem to be generally wanted if you wear a reasonable amount of clothing! And we were brought up in draughty houses which only had heating in one room, except for special occasions.
  11. billt

    Current sensors - Power Measurement

    I started off with three of these when there was little else available. I'd now use one of these Then tried a couple of Open Energy Monitor Arduino boards, but had a few failures and ended up making one of these which is may be the cheapest option if you don't want to design your own. The ECM1240s came with lots of CTs, mainly doughnut ones, which are used with the Boredom projects system as well as the ECM1240s; they suit my purposes better as they are small and easier to fit into a consumer unit, but you can use clip on CTs as well.
  12. billt

    Very 1st draft of my dream home

    Not necessarily! Our house is on 3 floors, kitchen and dining room on the lower floor (with another room down 2 steps containing fridge, freezer, washing machine and coffee machine), middle floor has living room, enormous useless hall and shower room, top floor has bedrooms and bathroom. 2 of the bedrooms are used as workrooms, so all 3 floors are used throughout the day. The stairs simply aren't an issue. This is partly due to habituation (we've lived here for 28 years) but also because of the layout of the floors. They are approximately square, 9M on a side, the stairs are in the centre of the house, are straight and reasonably wide. Most of the time we effectively unaware of the stairs. Of course, they help keep you fit as well. Obviously, if you have mobility problems, stairs aren't a good idea, but I don't see much of a problem with split level living for fairly healthy, young people.
  13. billt

    My Nightmare Heating System

    You're probably right about the system stagnating, however the cylinder thermostats shouldn't have anything to do with it. The ST system should be controlled entirely by the Resol controller. The Resol controller should have a temperature sensor in the collector and one in the store. When the collector is some amount above the store temperature the solar pump will start and will continue to run until the collector temperature drops below the store temp or the store temperature exceeds some value which will be set in one of the controller parameters. The limit temperature looks to be set quite low to me; my system has got to 90C store temperature with several sunny days and no heating demand. However, my system is designed to cope with high temperatures (wood burning boiler) and has a mixing valve on the hot water feed to ensure that HW is always at a safe temperature (<50C). I guess that this system doesn't have HW mixing valves (although these days they seem to be a requirement) and that the store temperature is limited for safety reasons. However, as the store was up to 65C the other day, it might be worth a little experiment with the controller settings. (They aren't very user friendly 'though!)
  14. billt

    My Nightmare Heating System

    Unfortunately the Dunning-Kruger effect will render that warning ineffective.
  15. billt

    My Nightmare Heating System

    Now the system's working properly (I guess) is Ms newhome fully trained on the (presumably simplified) system and able to fix it herself without the use of local plumbers?