August 11, 2015
Can you imagine the luxury of turning a tap and out comes hot or cold water. Nothing to haul, nothing to heat up. Just turn the tap. It’s amazing.
Maybe hot running water isn’t a big deal to most people, but to us it’s another milestone reached. Up till now I had a 25 gallon barrel of rain water in my kitchen. It was good exercise hauling in water (or snow in the winter) to keep the barrel full. And if the wood stove was going, I could have hot water. However, with the arrival of the warm weather, the stove was going less frequently and hot water not so readily available.
When we bought the Kitchen Queen wood cookstove, our intention was to install a water coil in the firebox and use the wood stove to heat our water, at least in the cooler months. However, the water coil couldn’t be hooked up until the plumbing was up and running. And that time has now come. Even though it is summer and the woodstove is not often going, the water coil is installed and works great.
The water coil in the stove is hooked up to the hot water tank located above the stove on the second floor. When a fire is on in the stove, the water in the water coil gets hot. Hot water rises, and this natural process causes the water in the water coil to rise up into the hot water tank. As the hot water rises, it is replaced by cold water from the water tank. And so it goes, cycling water from the hot water tank through the stove, gradually heating it up. When you turn on a tap, hot water from the tank goes to the tap and is replaced by cold water from the cistern located in the basement. It’s a very simple system.
There a few fail safe measures built into the system. Should the water in the hot water tank become too hot, a release value on the top of the tank will open and the hot water will travel through a pipe back to the cistern. As the hot water leaves the tank, it is replaced by cold water, reducing the pressure in the tank.
In addition, excess hot water will also be used to provide heat for the composting toilet system. The central composting unit is located in the basement, seated on a raised concrete platform. The concrete platform contains loops of pipes, the same as a radiant floor heating system. When we have excess hot water from the wood stove, we can send hot water to heat the concrete pad. The pad will heat the composting unit. Eventually, the composting unit will be enclosed an insulated room. Composting will be more efficient in a warm room and the heat under the unit will aid in evaporation of excess liquid. And it will provide another outlet to ensure that the water in the hot water tank does not get too hot.
For hot water on hot summer days when the sun is shining and we have an abundance of solar generated electricity, we can use the regular electric element in the hot water tank. With the turn of a switch, we can turn the element on or off.
So far the hot water system is working great. We have been heating the water both with the coil in the wood stove and the heating element in the hot water tank. We have hot water for doing dishes, showers and even doing laundry. On a cloudy, drizzly, or cool day, it is glorious to have a fire going in the wood stove and even end the day with a nice hot shower. Ah, the sheer luxury of simple pleasures.