Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Municipal building resumes normal operations after air conditioning repairs

There’s relief in sight for some city employees who had to endure the heat last week.

Many city employees who worked in the Fasi Municipal Building were sent home early on July 25 and 26 due to a broken air conditioning system. Only the basement and first floor of the 15-story building still had air conditioning.

But because the city wanted to keep services available to the public, employees had to work their whole shift starting Wednesday, July 27.

The city looked at alternative solutions, including moving employees to different locations, and renting out portable AC units while repairs were made. Workers were also told to dress for the heat.

Crews worked over the weekend to repair the system, and finished by 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1.

The entire building is expected to be fully operational on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The city’s director of facility maintenance said moisture from Sunday’s storm was likely to blame.

Article source: Municipal building resumes normal operations after air conditioning repairs

Spanish house is dug into a hillside, needs no heat or cooling

In his book The Shape of Green, Lance Hosey said that you cannot have sustainability without beauty.
If it's not beautiful, it's not sustainable. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern- It's an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.
And then we have the House on the Cliff by GilBartolome Architects, in Granada, Spain. It hits a pile of TreeHugger buttons; by being buried into the side of a cliff and with 16 inches of insulation in the concrete roof, which "allows for a magnificent mix of insulation and thermal inertia." It maintains an interior temperature of 19.5°C [67°F] year round without additional heating or cooling.

The engineering of the roof is remarkable too, made with a handcrafted formwork system using deformable metal mesh. Even the concrete is local, made less than 10 km away.

The architects tell ArchDaily that there was a strong social aspect to the design:

The construction of the House on the Cliff relies heavily on craftsmanship and local labor. The house was to be built during the worst possible financial crisis on Spain, with 26% of unemployment in our country, and close to 36% unemployment rates in the region where the house was built. In this social context we decided to avoid machine made industrial construction systems and develop an architecture that is based on many hours of labor.

Even the furniture is made on site, although not exactly traditionally:

The interior bespoke furniture made with fiberglass and polyester resin are all designed through digital design software, but manufactured by hand on site, using the ancient method of "measuring from plans" and also allowing room for the workers creativity and abilities to achieve the general aesthetical goals that were discussed during the site visits.
The architects call it "a Gaudiesque contemporary cave"; I think it is perhaps the ugliest thing we have ever showed on TreeHugger, animal, vegetable or mineral, uglier even than the psychrolutes marcidus. They won't need a burglar alarm; this house just sits there and snarls at you.

But then that is just my opinion. People thought Gaudi's work was ugly too. What do you think?

See full article here: Spanish house is dug into a hillside, needs no heat or cooling

Useful Advice on Ducted Air Conditioning Installation

Air conditioning systems are pretty useful these days especially in hot and humid summers. They have slowly become a necessity especially in the sunny regions of the world. People using them know the benefits of air conditioners and the hassles of living without them. The machines may seem pricy but ducted air conditioning installation will surely serve you in the longer run. If you buy ACs with more energy star, you can save a lot of cash on your monthly energy bills. Air conditioner installation takes a few hours and is without doubt a good amount of work; but if you plan the process smartly, it may save you a good deal of time as well as labour.

Few key points to keep in mind for ducted air conditioner installation:

Basic groundwork and planning:

Ducted air conditioning installation needs a handful of precautionary measures in order to save time and make the whole process safe and secure. The energy voltage and power supply should be at par with the air conditioners energy load requirement. Get professional help if required and get all your energy doubts cleared before installation. Install MCBs and other necessary electrical requirements like earthing done before you start installing your ducted AC.

Location of ducted air conditioner installation:

When ducted air conditioning installation is being done, being well organized plays a key role. You must pay attention to each and every detail especially the location to install these devices. Holes need to be drilled in walls to install ACs with tubes hence you must be careful in order to keep your interior d├ęcor intact. You must have a clear idea about the measurements of the walls where you want to place your AC units. The prime concern with ducted ACs is the controller units so you must make sure that they are placed in accordance with the other switches and the height is at par with light switches. Having the controller fitted at a concealed location is always preferable. Consult electricians and your house constructor to ensure you place your ACs at the right places.

Concerns with the ducted AC controllers:

The number of AC controller units is always a massive concern with ducted air conditioning installation. A multi-storeyed (two or more storey of building) home needs more that one controller system. The problem with a single controller is that every time the setting needs a change, you have to go to the place where the controller is installed, which means going up and down the staircases innumerable times to adjust the controller. It is convenient to have one controller placed in bedroom and another one in the living room.

Time for functional tool usages:

Holes must be drilled in the walls before the ducted air conditioning installation is done. These holes give away spaces for porting electricity and air cooling. To keep leaking pipes at bay, proper filters must be placed between the AC ducts and the walls. Also, the compressor of the ACs must be connected to a functional thermostat and through that to energy supplies to make sure that every single tool is ready for installation. All air conditioner units must be functioning optimally and hence the required tool time and checking time needs to be spared. To have everything in correct order, sound electrical knowledge is required. You can do some research prior to installation and acquire enough knowledge about these little things even when you are getting professional help. A little more knowledge is always beneficial.

Now, you can purchase and install ducted air conditioning from the online supplies, as they are a one-time investment that will last for many years.

Article source: Useful Advice on Ducted Air Conditioning Installation

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Air Conditioning and Heating

For me, air conditioning is essential.  For many months of the camping season, its hot enough during the day and trailers absorb enough heat that you can't be comfortable and get to sleep at night without it.  Another thing I do is when driving long distances, I want to drive well into the evening until I'm tired and then pull over to sleep at a rest stop or similar area.  If its hot I want to be able to run my A/C on battery to cool it down for sleeping.

For heating, I'm a minimalist.  We are 3 season campers and we never run heat during the night.  We use good sleeping bags and comforters to sleep warm and only use the heater in the morning to take the chill off.  After we're up and around, our body heat and breakfast cooking keep the trailer warm until we're dressed and outside for another day of exploring and hiking.

A/C vs. Heat Pumps

Roof mount A/C's are ubiquitous in the RV and Cargo Trailer industry.  These are very durable, move a lot of air, and the roof mount is convenient.  But most of them are old technology and aren't particularly energy efficient.  The smallest of these are around 12,000 BTU and use 17-18 amps per hour to run, and they are overkill for a trailer my size.  They are fine when plugged into the RV park, but not for battery operation.

Our theme is the All-Electric RV of the future, and I'm convinced that heat pumps are the wave of the future.  Heat pumps are common in residential and small commercial buildings, but rare on an RV.  A heat pump moves thermal energy by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer one.  They use a compressor and the refrigeration cycle similar to an A/C, but they can also reverse the cycle and pump heat into the trailer.  For my application, the heat pump would supply mostly A/C since I'm a minimalist on heating, but would serve as the occasional heater when needed.

The problem is that standard heat pumps you see for a residential application are too big, too unwieldy for an RV.  I've seen a Duo Therm Cool Cat heat pump advertised on some smaller trailers but I'll be darned if I can find one anywhere or get any specs on it.  And I think they require mounting through a big hole cut in your trailer, kind of like a window air conditioner looks.

But there's another option that I first saw when traveling in foreign countries - the Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump. The beauty of these is no ductwork.  The "split" means the outdoor compressor/condenser is separate (split) from the indoor air-handling unit.  The only hole in your building is a conduit for the power cable, refrigerant tubing, and condensate drain.   Comparing a 12,000 BTU mini-split unit to our 12,000 BTU roof mount RV A/C, it uses 7-8 Amps or half the Amps.  While smaller than the typical household heat pump, they're still a bit boxy and not as convenient to mount as the rooftop models, but I'm going to get around that by mounting the compressor on the tongue and route the hoses into the trailer through a 3" hole and mount the interior blower up high on a wall.   I'll also cover the outside unit with either a canvas cover when driving or build a metal and wire mesh cover keep the rocks off the unit.

"Inverter" Mini-Splits

The smallest standard mini splits I looked at were 9,000 BTU which is still more than you need for a trailer my size, but are already twice as efficient as the rooftop A/C units.  Most models are rated at a 7-8 Amp draw and have a SEER Rating of ~13.  The  higher the SEER rating the more efficient the unit.  You can find these online for around $700 which is very price competitive with a roof mount RV A/C.

While the standard mini-split is already an improvement, there are more expensive "DC Inverter" models with a SEER rating as high as 23.  They cost about a third more but are 50+ % more efficient, and instead of stopping and starting periodically to maintain a temperature, they use a more sophisticated system that continuously adjusts the compressor output as needed.  These are rated at 5 Amps max, but should dial themselves down to as low as a 2 Amp draw while maintaining a constant temperature.  Since we're looking at every Amp, my bet is that I can cut my battery needs by one third again over the standard mini-split models and you can easily spend more than the $400 difference on one more large deep-cycle battery.  I'd rather spend $1000, save on batteries and weight, and still be price competitive with roof-mount A/C's.

I don't know how Amazon does it, but they seem to have everything and as a Prime member you get free shipping so I purchased a Pioneer Ductless Mini Split INVERTER Heat Pump, 9000 BTU (3/4 Ton), 21.5 SEER 120 VAC unit.  I'll cover installation in future posts and I look forward to doing some serious testing to see how efficient this unit is and I'll post results of actual Amp draw under different conditions.

Article source: Air Conditioning and Heating

Climate change is as dangerous as ISIS, and part of the problem is your air conditioning

When Secretary of State John F. Kerry was in Austria's capital Vienna recently to join discussions on climate change, chances were low that he encountered too many air conditioned rooms.
To Americans used to cooler rooms in summer, this may just have been a simple cultural difference. For the climate negotiators, however, it most likely reflects a bigger divide between the U.S., Europe, and developing economies. Both Europe and North America are worried about some of the gases that are emitted from fridges and air conditioners. But apart from those concerns, European nations in particular are also looking with growing anger and skepticism at the United States' heavily reliance on air conditioning.

"If the second, fourth, and fifth most populous nations — India, Indonesia, and Brazil, all hot and humid — were to use as much energy per capita for air conditioning as does the U.S., it would require 100 percent of those countries' electricity supplies, plus all of the electricity generated by Mexico, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the entire continent of Africa," said Stan Cox, a researcher who focuses on indoor climate controlling. Within the next 80 years, global electricity consumption is expected to rise by more than 80 percent due to more air conditioning, and an increased use of fridges and fans.

Rapidly growing use of air conditioning and fridges has already led to more energy consumption. Perhaps even more worrisome, it has also increased emissions of so-called HCFC gases that are known to fuel climate change. Kerry was in Vienna last Friday to help find an agreement to limit their international use — and he made clear that it was not a laughing matter.

"Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations — defense ministers and foreign ministers — as we were working together on the challenge of Daesh, ISIL, and terrorism," Kerry said, referring to the Islamic State group.

"It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself," he said, referring to climate change in general and the hope to curb the use of HCFC gases in particular. About 90 percent of those gases are used in fridges or air conditioning systems.

"The concern is that if the world doesn’t transition away from HCFCs, that will cause problems because the developing world, including China and India, are poised — as they develop and as the climate warms — to become enormous markets for air conditioners and other uses of these chemicals," said Anthony Leiserowitz, the Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

While the U.S. and Europe agree that HCFCs should be phased out and replaced by less damaging gases, Europeans believe Americans should also do more to lower their reliance on air conditioning. While American demand for air-conditioning has continuously increased over the past decades, Europeans have started to think about alternatives.

To be fair, summers in Vienna and northern Europe in general can hardly be compared to the hot, humid mess of a summer in Washington D.C. and many other American cities.
Advocates of air conditioning cannot only be found in the U.S.: Lee Kuan Yew, a former prime minister of Singapore, called air conditioners the greatest invention of the last century. Studies suggest that in hotter countries, air conditioning can increase workers' productivity and make the countries richer.

But in the long term, they are a danger and for European critics, its not so much the presence of air conditioning in the United States, but its over-use.

Visitors to the U.S. often complain that Americans set their room temperatures way too low — making life more difficult for themselves, and for the world. "When friends from abroad or family from India have come to visit, they've been shocked by how cold we keep our homes, offices, classrooms, and shops," said Nikita Perumal, an American Fulbright grantee who researches human rights-based approaches to climate change. Anyone who has ever toured the U.S. during summer with European tourists might have had the same experience.

Those observations are based on actual science: Most Americans prefer an average temperature of 70 degrees, according to earlier studies. But Europeans would consider such temperatures too cold. That's because Europeans are simply used to warmer indoors temperatures.

"Americans tend to keep their thermostats at the same temperature all year around.  In contrast, Europeans tend to set their thermostats higher in summer and lower in winter. Consequently, while indoors, Europeans wear sweaters in winter, while Americans wear sweaters in summer," Michael Sivak from the University of Michigan told The Washington Post last year.

Many experts say that this makes hardly any sense, and Americans should adapt.

"The temperature range that people find comfortable depends on the temperatures they have experienced in preceding days or weeks," said Cox. "If local high temperatures have been, say, around 70, then we feel most comfortable in the 70s indoors. If we've experienced highs of, say, 90, we may feel more comfortable in the mid-70s to the mid or upper 80s. But today we have whole populations that can go for weeks without experiencing any warm or hot temperatures, other than dashing across hot asphalt from the car to the office and back. How to start the adaptation process? That's a hard one."

Europe has tried to come up with answers that might be worth copying. Work spaces now need to be built energy-efficiently, according to E.U. legislation. Brick walls, for instance, can prevent rooms from getting too hot naturally.

"People are looking at a variety of solutions, including better building designs that don’t require as much air conditioning, as well as reducing waste energy overall," said Leiserowitz.

Right now, the trend in architecture to facilitate the kind of air conditioning that foreign visitors often associate with a meat locker is to build hermetically sealed, low ceiling offices without external balconies that some have criticized for being claustrophobic.

A more energy efficient approach would involve larger spaces, higher ceilings and natural flows of air that could both cool the office and make for a more enjoyable work environment.

So, next time you feel stressed because your work place is too loud and fresh air is just too far away — perhaps blame air conditioning.

Article source: Climate change is as dangerous as ISIS, and part of the problem is your air conditioning.