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Latest Forum Posts

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1 posts
Posted 2 May 15 9:01 PM
hi, we too have bought second hand cast iron radiators, but we're running into problems getting them tested. do you have any advice on where to go and what to ask them to do?

20 posts
Posted 2 May 15 9:57 AM
Thanks Zappd, the sensor stuff was quite a bit of the work, but well worth it I think. All the details are there to do something similar yourself if you are keen.
Be aware that the payback calculations have yet to go through a winter season, so I expect the total to creep up over the next 6 months. It will be interesting to see once a full year has passed.

Thanks for your confirmation around the standards compliance, it is reassuring.

Mains pressure hot water system could prove problematic, as there is a requirement for a thermostat to be indirect series with the element and high power DC thermostats are very difficult to find. This thread here covers the problem:

Your lighting setup sounds cool. I have thought of hooking up a batter to my setup. Maybe a future enhancement:)
BTW how much are Li-ion Batteries?

There has been some interest my setup. I am not the first to do it, but as far as I can tell I am the first to make publicly available the stats.


8 posts
Posted 1 May 15 10:25 PM
Here is the Fair Go story:

I posted the following to the Fair Go Facebook page:

If you have any experiences like this, involving floorboards or a building product, please let us know. It does not have to be the particular brand mentioned in the story. Problems like these are not specific to any particular brand.

When the 60 Minutes story came out in the US about high levels of formaldehyde in HDF (high density fiberboard) laminate floorboards sourced from China and sold by Lumber Liquidators, some people then began to realize that the symptoms they were experiencing were from those floorboards. In many cases, they were coming from bamboo floors as well. The more stories that are shared, the greater the knowledge for the public to make informed choices about building products.

It also helps to document your experiences like I did, with video recordings and scientific testing.

75 posts
Posted 1 May 15 5:22 PM
This announcement from Tesla Energy today sounds very promising. Potentially a game changer for the electricity supply sector and especially for those with microgeneration such as PV. Bring it on!!

2 posts
Posted 1 May 15 12:42 PM
Ken - your setup is really impressive!

I especially like the data coming back to the webpage counting down the payback.

I don't think you need to ground the panels, as the OCV is below 50V. Technically it is not SELV, as it is above 12V. AS/NZS 5033 says you don't need to earth, as you are using double insulated panels (this is misleading - double insulated to what voltage rating). You might be more inclined to ground them for lightning protection on a roof, or if you are worried about how you have fused them (PELV is easier to explain).

I am looking at 24VDC power for lighting, and when a local 24V battery were charged (Li-ion), dumping the rest of the energy into a HWC. But I really like mains pressure so this has some substantial implications - especially trying to do it cheaply. But I think it may be possible. If designed right, it might make your sort of setup fairly cheap to implement on mains pressure systems.

I also have a friend who is also looking at this type of application, although he was planning to dump to a spa pool instead (I think he is on gas for hot water). Who would have thought that PV panels can get in the ballpark to a solar thermal system (10 years for PV vs. 4-6 years for thermal??) in terms of payback period!

For the moment I am working on the 24V LED system. A little PCB behind the switches to implement dimming and remote control for 12V LEDs.

Sorry to hijack your thread - but I am curious as to how popular the PV hot water heating would be if there was no change to the cylinder (just a little bit of wiring, and a temperature sensor or two)?

Have you had much interest in your system?

1 posts
Posted 1 May 15 12:07 PM

we are a young kiwi couple in our mid/early 20s........ heres the thing you... Auckland seems to be the place to make money or study... but its hard to find the lifestyle.... We are looking for somewhere to park our housebus ( big blue) either out west by the beach or somewhere beautiful... somewhere we can plant our organic heritage seeds and grow yummy goodness filled food, mayby have some chickens etc.. we are both into surfing,skating,activism,living free, punk and soul music etc .Their must be others out there in this same position.. mayby young parents studying? general awesome people that cant pay 600 a week for a designer hippie house out west .......... heres the plan.... put it out there to other young/old whatever alternative lifestyle people that their are others keen to lease land or a old cheap house out off the city but still close enough. where we could park housebus's etc. build halfpipes and live together in a more empowering supportive non invasive way OR if there is something already going on ... let us know p.s we are prepared to work hard to make this happen please only contact us if you are a DO'ERz

20 posts
Posted 30 Apr 15 12:44 PM
Hi Zappd, I had forgotten about this post.
So I ended up going ahead with the following setup:

Ground mounted
4x 250W panels wired in parallel
< 30VDC
< 30A
Each panel is fused (10A)

Open vented
50ADC Isolator
Dual 1.5KW(Mains input), 900W(PV input) element
No thermostat for PV input
No grounding for the PV (But I have been thinking of adding a grounding wire)

I have the full write up and real time reading here:

I would be interested in any feedback

Thanks, Ken

2 posts
Posted 30 Apr 15 11:19 AM
Kenx - how have you gone with this?

I'm interested as I would like to put a few panels up to charge a battery and run some solar lighting - a DIY system for some time in the future, and I want to stay away from requiring an electrician. So I am testing my understanding on all this - mainly based upon AS/NZS3000.

The 120V limit is ripple free voltage, which means that the string OCV would need to be below this. Depending upon how much power you are trying to put into the cylinder, there may be a few factors you may want to look into:

- going to 48V (perhaps OCV below 60V) may make things a little more safer. This level doesn't need earthing - depending upon circumstances (12V is highest safe voltage where you have lots of water, like in a shower). At 120V DC you should earth everything in case of a fault in the insulation, and your wire will need to be rated for this voltage.
- You may be able to use a conventional thermostat and a DC rated contactor to switch the solar power. This is easier at lower voltages. Do you have any other power available to power a simple circuit?
- Even with a thermostat, you will need an open vented cylinder.
- You will need appropriately rated isolators near the cylinder, and near the panels. Not sure if you need a fuse - how can you burn out your wiring? Are you paralleling panels?
- Apart from making sure your roof will take the weight, why can't you put the panels on the roof?

I am keen to know what you have been able to find out.

42 posts
Posted 29 Apr 15 3:17 PM
OOps pushed the button to fast...

With good windows you will hardly ever use the heat pump on high and you will be amazed about the difference it makes.

42 posts
Posted 29 Apr 15 3:14 PM
Well your house is not fully insulated unless you have fully insulating (frame and glass) windows.
The best insulation doesn't substitute good windows.
I assume you have currently single glazed aluminium or timber windows. Change your windows to uPVC with lowE argon double glazing or if you have more to spend you could use Euro style timber aluminium joinery.

5 posts
Posted 29 Apr 15 1:20 PM
we ended up getting a house elsewhere, Chidley place, which has a decent heatpump, I didn't look at prices of pellets, but the "amalfi" pellet fire looks good for running radiators, or in your case maybe some underfloor water heating piping. Otherwise the Monica pellet fire looks to be a good looking smaller option for the modern home. Moisture barrier was already installed in my new place, but it makes a huge difference, the property is constantly damp this time of year, but under our house its dry as a bone, but on stilts as you describe its probably not needed.

1 posts
Posted 29 Apr 15 11:46 AM
Hi there,
I was wondering how you went with your research and if you did install a pellet fire?
I am also in Nelson, in Murphy Street and installed the biggest heatpump on the market, as I was worried about cost of pellets when I did my research a year ago and also have a friend who installs heatpumps and he gave me a good deal.
However my house is still chilly, I hardly have any sun in the living area. My problem is too, that I have an A-frame house with a high ceiling. The house is fully insulated, I renewed the underfloor insulation with batts instead of the foil it had before, which is much better, but just this damp chill in the air which is the same you would have in The Brook.

Would really appreciate your experience if you have installed a pelletfire and if it has made a difference compared to the heatpump.

Also interested to know what you used as moisture barrier and if this is something I should do, but my house is on stilts and gets wind underneath, so I think it's not too bad.

Thanks heaps

30 posts
Posted 29 Apr 15 9:52 AM
Here is the trailer for the Fair Go episode on tonight. Airing at 7.30 on tv one.

7 posts
Posted 27 Apr 15 9:59 PM
I'm in a off grid shipping container home but it's as eco as any other dwelling
It's a ex refrigerated container from 1983 which would have ended up getting scrapped if I didn't buy it
Ex server deep cycle batteries
Solar... This week wind as well hopefully... Months down the track the same ventilation system as passive houses... Composting toilet... Still running lpg for hot water but the next one I build will run off a mulch/solar panel/wetback setup

There's a marae that's building a eco village... I forget which suburb it's in.... Maybe Miramar? Anyone?

As Da Vincii said... I never tire of being useful ;)

2 posts
Posted 27 Apr 15 4:16 PM
We found it difficult to get information, having gone through our builder and architectural designer and they had the same issue, it was going to cost us an extra $25k to our build so we've ended up going with painted Linear Board

1 posts
Posted 26 Apr 15 4:40 PM
Hi, I've been pondering the same thing and wondered if you'd got anywhere with your search? Thanks

484 posts
Posted 23 Apr 15 10:29 AM
Well ‘Earth Day’ has come and gone, so what has changed since last year? (according to this ecologist).

Its devotees are still promoting (commendably) cleaning up pollution from water, (dairy farming) and air, (coal fired Chinese power plants) but still try to boost (legitimise),their claims by linking CO2 as a pollutant gas - (non-scientific rubbish).

But their current drive is to ‘educate’ our venerable 9-12 year old children via classroom propaganda (despicable), correct their wayward parents (re-educate), to produce future (green) legislators, and future industry (renewables) leaders.

No mention of the vast sums of MONEY required to turn these dreams into reality, but this can come from ‘carbon taxes’ tacked on to your power bill – or you can push the ‘donate now’ button if you feel guilty.

I could write on how their pseudo-science is inane and inaccurate, (such as Kiribati, being inundated by rising seas – it is sinking instead), but I can’t be bothered so please accept this ‘cut and paste’ instead.

Regards Rex

2 posts
Posted 23 Apr 15 9:27 AM
Hi there! Just asked you for more info but it went to bottom of thread.Just for craycatcher! ramsey32

2 posts
Posted 23 Apr 15 9:24 AM
Interesting as an option.What materials do you use over existing plasterboard in a timber framed house where you dont wish to remove the exterior cladding either. Plywood the more plasterboard? Appreciate tips. ramsey32

42 posts
Posted 22 Apr 15 2:18 PM
For good reason we have banned MDF made things from our house altogether because no matter who makes it it is nasty and ugly stuff to work with and live with.

8 posts
Posted 22 Apr 15 1:55 PM
Hello everyone. The story is scheduled to run on Fair Go April 29, 2015.

1 posts
Posted 21 Apr 15 4:17 PM
For several years in UK, fibreglass insulation is probably delivered to a site wrapped in polythene, being opaque on one side and clear on the other for some reason, and certainly installed in this polythene "jacket. Accordingly there is not the problem from particles or formaldehyde. I do not know how installers deal with fitting it to size but the whole loft area is so covered. I was astonished to learn that five years ago the minimum depth was 25cm- in some northern states in USA it is 45 cm.

2 posts
Posted 15 Apr 15 7:51 PM
The wood is still looking good and performing well. We haven't had any performance issues with the decking and there's no sign of any change to the wood. I'm still really happy with the decking and would certainly use it again for any other decks.

5 posts
Posted 14 Apr 15 4:44 PM
Adding insulation in a renovation is easy. Especially if it's only the walls. I would suggest maximum R value fibreglass batts you can fit as that seems to be well accepted in NZ building. I'm a big fan of the closed cell polyurethane spray foam but it's not well accepted in NZ. Before you start installing the insulation, I would look at weatherproofing the walls as much as possible. That is the gaps and holes that you may find should be sealed up. Considering the age of your house, the bottom plate of the wall framing may have 'intentionally' drilled holes for ventillation in the wall (this was a requirement back in those days). But today, with how expensive space heating can be, you're best to weather-tight the house as much as possible.

5 posts
Posted 14 Apr 15 4:30 PM
On the other hand, there are advantages and disadvantages to them like there are for pretty much everything. A few individuals will love them and a few individuals will despise them.

Here's a decent article on the great and awful: www . post-gazette . com/homes/2006/07/29/Tankless-water-heaters-draw-hot-and-cold-responses/stories/200607290103

Since I live alone and don't utilize much high temp water amid the day, its optimal for me. In a vast family unit where individuals are continually giving, running a dishwasher, doing clothing, and making different requests on the framework, the expense of establishment and higher expense of vitality every terminating can invalidate any funds before long.

It will be pleasant to get the tank out of here, however.
Hope i offered some help

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