The Warm, Dry Whiff Of Daily Savings
NO IMAGES HERE YET AS THERE'S A PROBLEM - TRY HERE FOR NOW:)
A Junkk PPProR!* - The Solarventi Dehumidification System
It was the smell that was most striking...
...there wasn't one any more.
As I descended lower into the dank, dark, gloomy depths of our cellar, I realised that about all that held true to the earlier part of this sentence anymore was 'depths', as it is well below ground level and, thanks to a brook running about 30' away, the water table too. And as the room hasn't been tanked (basically a big, expensive plastic bag lining) there are two sump pumps (one backup) to keep things dry, as in not underwater. And to keep everything from getting damp and mouldy, there has been a dehumidifier, running pretty 24/7, 365/365, since we got here from Singapore.
And I'm kicking myself. Because it is still. Still there, but no longer required. And the reason is our new (now, not so much) solar-powered dehumidification system from Solarventi.
It really is a very simple system, though operating in a manner that I found unexpected. On an outer (South Facing) wall is the solar collector, which serves to generate the energy for the fan, and to dry out the air it blows. Yes, that's right, blows. I had imagined it would suck the damp air out, but in fact it blows dry air in, displacing the damp up and out.
So you do need two holes. One to get the dry air from the system in to the area to be dehumidified, and somewhere for the damp air to escape. For us the latter was sorted, namely being the stairs and exit to the ground floor.
The inlet was, frankly, more of an issue. There is a finite distance the inlet pipe can travel and still be effective, so you need to locate the unit as near as you can to the room in question, whilst still being in the sun's rays. And for us that meant about 2' down and 2' through solid Herefordshire Georgian foundations. I'll spare you details, along with any pictures of two builders' cracks that would put the Grand Canyon & Marinas Trench to shame.
Suffice to say I am very grateful to Dave of Solarventi to come with the unit to be interviewed, assist with the installation, and share his considerable knowledge on matters enviro and solar with me, which he does to this day, for articles and blogs.
At risk of repetition (but it's often worth it for effect) Junkk.com likes unique (because we think we are!). So there may be others around, and if there are we'll be happy to check them out too, but this was the one we found out about and helped us out with great customer service, so that's the one in the wall.
It's also very simple, useful... and just plain does the job.
With luck it will provide many years of service without needing much, if anything, by way of maintenance, and every minute it blows, that's a few precious watts we're not being charged for or sucking out of a carbon-churning (or nuclear waste stockpiling) power station.
There's a ton more numbers that need to be crunched and shared on ROI (return on investment - Dave kindly has provided some Excel spreadsheets that I will post once I've figured out how), but I just wanted to get something up now.
The thing does exactly what it says on the box, and so far the results are clear, if as yet unscientific.
And once I have figured out how to work the power meter I have yet to review, I will try and put things in terms that jingle in the pocket a bit more, along with the period it will take to pay for itself.
So far, hard to fault.
There are moving parts, so there will be wear and hence matters of reliability, however I am reassured that the Danish (and hence very Nordically precise) makers have over-engineered every part. The casing also seem very solid.
Being solar, you are also at the whim of the sun, which means location, location, location. It is a limiting factor.
Our unit is pretty much at the only place it can be, and when we put it in, the sun sailed gaily across the sky pretty much dawn 'til dusk. That is no longer the case, and it scoots low on the horizon, getting blocked by a row of firs in next door's garden.
While installation is not beyond the means of most competent DIYers, the fact remains that one inevitably ends up punching a fair-sized hole through a thick old wall surface. And if, as in our case, the point where you need to the dry air to blow out isn't the other side to where the unit pumps it out, you can have some work on your hands. There is a limit to how far a pipe you can run, and at 2metres (for our model, the smaller SV3 - larger ones with bigger PV arrays are good for 4-5m) we were taking it about to the max.
And if it is not a 'though and through' the unit needs to be set upon a bracket to allow the flexi-tube to be carried out the back to wherever needed, which is not so neat. See the site for better solutions.
However, when compared to running the dehumidifier, the daily savings to one's bank balance and, naturally, the planet, it is looking like a very good (in every sense of the word) investment. We're hoping for payback in 2-3 years. So this is solar that does make sense (we're looking at the bigger boys and turbines in coming editions), even in the UK.
Big up to those who made it, those who sell it (Solarventi helped us out writing this, so the spoils of PR go their way:), those who use it and, of course, the planet!
Technical Stuff & Long Term Report
Thanks for your questions. We've checked and had answers from Solarventi, which I'll add to from my own experiences!
Why can't the PV bit go on the roof? OK there'll be voltage losses down the cable, but surely outweighed by the better illumination?
Rooftop wind seems to be a non-starter in the urban setting. Better off clubbing together with a community site, a bigger machine in a good windy spot. I hope to get something on those lines going in Cheshire - similar to BayWind.
The key point is the unit is totally self contained. You could place the PV elsewhere - as many similar earlier systems did (the reason SolarVenti has so many patents is that it is the only such device where the PV is integral to the unit and can survive the internal temperature problems because of its self cooling capabilities).
In the case of my cellar, moving the PV wouldn't help, as the unit still requires direct sun in order to warm up the air that it blows in. The unit would simply be ventilating only and the powerful dehumidifying effect provided by the warmed incoming air would largely be negated.
Clubbing together is indeed a good idea, and one we are already trying to help with. Our own experience bringing broadband to Ross has taught us this. The Junkk.com localisation makes this a very simple thing to effect. We'll look into it.
Tell us what you think*
*It's a new feature, inaugurated with this piece. The acronym PPProR! stands for PJM's (which in turn stands for Peter, Junkk Male) Personal Product Review, which is where we buy something for our own use, have a go as a family and then share our experiences.