Creating hot water from your compost heap

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Diggman, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    Hi all, I came across this and just had to come here and share it, I'm pretty sure this concept has been shared somewhere here in the past or on the main site but I reckon it's worth a revisit especially for new forum members, not that I will anytime soon obtain land which I would be able to do this on, but it's well worth looking into anyway (newbies like me), the article has a few videos and pictures & text explaining the system so its a good source of info. overall::y:

    https://growingarden.wordpress.com/...ost-heap-pile-jean-pain-revolutionary-design/

    have any of you done this yet but in a different size scale ?
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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  3. Topher

    Topher Junior Member

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    Greetings,

    My concern with this idea (other than the fact that *my* compost freezes solid in the winter), is that I am not sure that the heat in the pile isn't needed to perform its function. Would we be pulling heat out of the pile to the detriment of pile. Does anyone fully understand the physics and biology of the situation? What does the compost look like in the immediate vicinity of the cold end of the water pipe?

    Thank You Kindly,
    Topher
     
  4. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    I think the heat pulled out wouldn't have much effect as it is a continual process. Heating water would be on a need basis so heat loss would be minimal and spread over a large area.
     
  5. Brian Knight

    Brian Knight Junior Member

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    Brian agrees with Brian. It was a concern of mine but I dont even think this "drawback" is measurable. Now if you had it set up in a space conditioning, thermosiphoning situation like in that diagram from my thread then I bet it would have an effect. However, I think the effect could be a good one overall. My main complaint with the system is that it burns out to quick. I need to perhaps add less Nitrogen to slow the process down. I would rather the compost be less hot, if it means staying warm for longer periods.

    I have always made my compost piles in the late fall with fallen leaves and even in the coldest winters with weeks of sub-freezing temperatures, the piles are always warm and toasty on the inside. If your pile is frozen in the winter, that suggests to me the composting process is mostly done.
     
  6. Topher

    Topher Junior Member

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    I wish. In my climate, this year, we got -20°F, and 53 days that never got above freezing. A huge problem I also got this year was snow filling up my compost pile, we got over 80", we *still* have a couple of feet. My compost pile freezes every year, even if I put high nitrogen content on it all year long. I think the pile is just thawing now after 5 days of sun.

    Thank You Kindly,
    Topher
     
  7. Brian Knight

    Brian Knight Junior Member

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    Thanks for reminding me how much I take my climate for granted! How big is your pile? With that much snow, seems like you could pile it around your compost pile to help insulate it.
     
  8. Topher

    Topher Junior Member

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    My pile is the size of a pallet on edge (about 4' cubed). And yeah, the snow was deeper than the pile, so there was no need to pile it. :rofl:

    Thank You Kindly,
    Topher
     
  9. Brian Knight

    Brian Knight Junior Member

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    I think that's a relatively small pile, only 1' bigger than the minimum needed to generate heat for the most part. Mine are 5-6' diameter and can imagine needing to go to 7-10' in colder climates to keep it warm. I just did a quick search about cold weather composting and am somewhat surprised however, that most people in really cold climates struggle with temps. I did find this link where at the bottom they suggest creating a hay-bale, insulating enclosure and going with higher N materials. Coincidently, right now Iam getting close to equal temps (top center of pile) with my all-coffee ground pile as all-leaf pile. Even more strange that the leaves + coffee is 10 degrees less than both. Definitely need to take more spot measurements and try again next year as I think it's odd.

    For water pre-heaters, hot temps arent necessary and possibly not desirable. Long lasting warm temps are what Iam after. With a setup similar to mine, compost pile against wall of house/foundation, you could make the case that any insulating enclosure like hay or strawbales could be reduced a lot with one wall/side already in place.
     
  10. pierre1911

    pierre1911 New Member

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    grantvdm likes this.

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