Sometimes it can take a while to complete a project on our home. At times we are working on several different things at once. A lot depends on weather and how much power do we have. With winter we need to conserve our power at times because of lack of sun. Here in early spring we are in the rainy season and have lack of sun again.
We are not used to how much rain we get in Missouri compared to Wisconsin. And even though we are now enclosed and out of the weather we are still dependent on the weather. It has been a challenge to build a Earthship styled home here in Missouri. We are still moving forward and are going to persevere.
We Have Hot and Cold Water
Allen and Arron have finished putting together the Solar Hot water heater. Allen has most of the cold and hot water copper pipping in the Upcycled home in place. Installing the solar tubing was the last part of the solar hot water system.
Above Arron is hanging on to the solar glass tube while Allen is putting on a rubber grommet. In the photo below you can see a copper rod come out of the glass tube. You might wonder how in the world does this system work?
The glass vacuum tubes act very much like a solar panel. Instead of generating power these tubes generate heat. The heat from the sun travels up the tube through the copper rod into the tank above. The tank is what is holding 40 gallons of water. That heat is released into the cold tank of water. After a few hours the water is hot. The tank is insulated so once hot it will stay hot for a while. We don't know how long the tank will stay hot for after the sun goes down yet.
This system does not have water going into the tubes. The glass is specially designed to absorb the heat. If any one the the vacuum tubes would ever happen to break the system will still work without it. This is one reason why we choose this system over others.
The next step we need to do outside with this solar hot water system is to insulate the copper piping coming out to the solar hot water heater and then back into the home. When we have a really good stretch of no rain we will be applying papercrete to those pipes.
The shower hot and cold pipes are up and ready. We wish the rest of the shower was.
The pipes to the bathroom sink are in and then turn to go through the wall for the kitchen sink.
This is in our back hallway. We have hot and cold pipes that will first go to a washing machine when we are ready to have one. Then pipes go to the double wash tub. At the moment we don't have the drain line that go out to the greenhouse planters hooked up yet because the planters are not ready yet. When we turn on the water that goes to the sink we have a 5 gallon bucket underneath to catch any water when we are not paying attention.
Now at the beginning of this article I mentioned that we have hot water. Well what I should of said is that we have scalding hot water. One evening I had wanted to just wash my hair so I came out to the wash tub to do this and try out our solar hot water system. It was at 6:00pm and at that time the sun was going down. I didn't think that the water would be too hot. Well it was. I had to jump on the cold water because it can get scalding hot if your not careful. I will say that the solar hot water heater works quite well.
On a side note. Earthships are set up to reuse the grey water before it goes out to the septic system. The water that is used will go out to the greenhouse and get filtered by the plants that are growing in them before the water is then used for the toilet. The black water is the only water that goes out to the septic system. With that said, the planters need to be up and running before the bathroom can be fully functional. This will need to get done this year.
What We Are Working On
The hot and cold water pipes within the Upcycled Home. The photo below shows the lines coming in from the solar hot water system that goes into the black on demand hot water system. The on demand is not operating yet. Allen is currently working on the piping for the propane gas line. Once this is done the on demand will be working.
Working on New Windows
When it came to new windows we had to make a decision. Do we go with the double pane windows or single pane windows? Michael Reynolds has stated in his older books to use double pane windows. So we debated and did some research.
We know from our experience that over time the double pane windows leak. This is what has happened to our double pane reclaimed glass that we had used to enclose our Upcycled home. They came from old Coke coolers and we saved over 66 Coke cooler doors from going into the landfill. We thought we had it made until the moisture was seen in the windows.
Then it came to me to check to see what big greenhouses use for windows. I came across an article from the Green Home Gnome ( link to article found below). I found out that glass is the best material to use. We would agree since the greenhouse is attached to the front of our home, we would like to see out our windows. The article stated that if you put double paned windows in a greenhouse that it will void the warranty. It is because of the added humidity and heat that is in a greenhouse as to why the window manufactures will not honor the warranty. The conditions of the greenhouse will degrade the double pane windows faster. When we were window shopping I asked a company that we were getting estimates from if it would void the warranty or not. We did learn that it would shorten the warranty of the windows from the manufacture. We have read numerous places that double pane windows can start to leak in 10 years. Because our greenhouse we could be changing them out a lot sooner than 10 years.
That is a lot of work and money going down the drain. To us this was not worth it to slow down the heat loss from the Upcycled Home.
Another thing to consider is that any windows with a Low E coating will not allow the heat from the sun to come in to the home. This heat is reflected back outside. This is perfect for homes having to run a air conditioner in the summer time. Less heat in means better savings. This is not so for those homes designed for passive solar heat for the winter time.
Our Earthship styled home is designed to face south to allow the sun to come through during the winter time. The thermal mass that is in the tires, walls and floors absorb this heat and when the home cools down releases this heat back into the home. If we have windows with a Low E coating on them there will be no heat coming into the Upcycled Home for the thermal mass to absorb. This is a problem when your main source of heat is the sun.
The windows we got for free have a Low E coating on them. No heat was coming through. We didn't realize this until on a warm 70 degree winter day the Upcycled Home was colder inside than it was outside we knew we had a problem. We had to change out these windows sooner than we had wanted to. This takes away time that would be used to get us into the earthship by winter.
After doing all the research that we had done we decided to install single pane windows. We were able to find single pane casement windows and 1/4 inch tempered glass through A & A windows in West Plains for a really good price.
Arron putting in the window glaze. This seals the window to keep out the moisture.
Allen is smoothing out the glaze.
Window glaze leaves a nice finish and it can be painted. It does however take about 30 minutes to glaze one window.
We were surprised as to how much the casement windows let in a lot of air. It is nice to catch that breeze on a nice spring day.
The east and west sunrooms have all the new casements and stationary windows in place.
The green house has the bottom row of new windows in place. We have the top row to complete along with the glazing of them.
Interior Windows Going In
Most Earthships now use, what Michael Reynolds terms as a double green house. What this means is there are the exterior windows of the greenhouse and a interior set of windows on the other side of the greenhouse creating a double glass or greenhouse effect. Through the 45+ years that Michael Reynolds been designing earthships they have changed to include another set of glass windows on the inside of the earthship to increase the amount of heat that the thermal mass tires, walls and floors to absorb. Michael claims that the more layers of windows you put in the more heat that will come into the earthship.
We are putting in a double greenhouse for the main part of earthship. Our bedrooms will actually add another layer of glass to it. So we will see if this will help us to get more heat to the back of the earthship. We built our earthship deeper then what is normally being built now. We call our Earthship a Hybrid. It is a combination of the old, new and Severin styled.
Now that we have more windows installed without the Low E coating on them we are starting to notice a difference in temperatures within the Upcycled Home.
In the photos above and below you can see the reflection of the greenhouse in the windows. Otherwise it is hard to see them.
Thank's For Reading My Blog.
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.