Plumbing Parts a Plenty

So the stoves in place the solar panels are on the roof the bath taps and shower are all in situation so all one needs to do now is connect all the bits to Richard (the thermal store).
The bits include a large expansion ballon, a 300 liter domestic hot water tank with twin solar coils and an immersion slot, domestic hot water manifold, domestic cold water manifold, underfloor heating manifold and pump, Ladomat valve/pump on back of warmsler range
circulation and control unit for the solar panels, circulation pump and manifolds for other central heating parts such as therma skirt and bathroom radiator.

Here is a small selection of some of the parts before we started

And that lot was only a fraction of it and so I can heartily recommend using a buyer when you have major project. I used TEKNOS ENERGIES SARL www.teknos-achat.com who worked with the designer (Rick) and compiled the main list of components required. WE still had to make several trips to the plumbers merchant but that is to be expected in a project like this.
Andrew (from Teknos) is an avid fan of alternative energy and has been on the fringes of our project since day one and it was he who introduced me to Rick who finally pulled all the parts together.
It is pretty apparent that Richard is nearly twice as big as it needs to be for house our size but us purchasing that model was as result of flawed advice at the start. Nothing wrong with having a thermal store as they make perfect sense but the bigger they are the bigger the appliances you need to run them.
What we don’t want is fucking great ugly log burner in the lounge that would have to be run every day as well as the warmsler to really “charge” up the size thermal store we have. We are looking for something a bit more aesthetically pleasing than a huge black high kilowatt (25+) burner in front of our picture window. It doesnt help that I only installed 22mm copper pipe that leads under the floor to the lounge and the warmsler which is one of those easy to make mistakes when you are years ahead of fitting any stoves and are nota professional plumber or builder. It is a minor irritation but one lives and learns.
What we will probably do is drop down a size with the thermal store (to either 1400 liters or 1000 liters) in this house later this year before the autumn and install Richard into the 2nd project with a gasification wood boiler.
Fitting one of those magnificently efficient ways of burning wood (up to 98% efficiency) into here now (which would only have to be loaded and burned once every couple of days to charge Richard) is not really justifiable considering it is only MrsB and I 95% of the time and half of that time I am at sea.
The system we have (albeit with a smaller thermal store) when fully tuned and set up is easy as peasy to run with it basically being “put logs on fire and hot water and heating comes out of the other end”.
During the summer when you have no fires the solar array is more than adequate to provide all hot water needs. Apart from humping the logs the whole thing runs automatically with thermostat controlled pumps and circulation and the reheating and redirection of excess heat into the thermal store to be used later when required.
I guess it is bit pricey to set up with all the equipment to purchase but now is the time to do it while I am still earning as my pension provision is poor I don’t want to be face with huge energy bills once retired and with this the only bill I will have is one for wood.

Some people would prefer to have the money in the bank and pay year in year out for ever increasing energy costs whereas I prefer to have the hardware installed now with the prospect of very small bills by comparison from now on and in the future. I am well chuffed that from now on every time the sun shines we are receiving energy in the form of hot water, and likewise every time we burn a log not only does it warm the room or cook a pie or heat the kettle it also gets stored for later use in the underfloor heating or radiators in the night. I would rather have that than concern myself that some thieving asshole banker might lose all my money or that I will have to be at the mercy of the power companies and profit led pricing policies.

I may have already mentioned it but number two project is being designed and built completely off gird so whoever buys it will never have utility bill

Here is the warmsler with its gubbins all fitted at the back

Here is richard the thermal store getting dressed up, fist with the solar panels and controller connected

And then more and more bits added

Here on the back wall you can see the domestic hot and cold water manifolds so you can isolate any specific hot or cold water supply to change out an item or add new etc

Hee is the two loops of underfloor heating complete with pump and thermostat however I am going to plum in a bypass to thermostat as it doesn’t seem to let the water through hot enough to really give the floor some warmth. It is still early days and there are many tweaks to perform such as fitting a time to the electric immersion element that is in Richard so that if we decide to bugger off for a week or three we can let the electric give the tank a quick squirt of heat in the night and then the UFH in the lounge should be just enough to prevent freezing through the house should cold snap prevail in our absence.

This one shows the domestic hot water manifolds more clearly and on the ceiling you can see the first of the central heating manifolds that operate the therma skirt towel rail and more to be added as we go along.

It all probably looks complicated and bit of a mess but when we have finished plumbing in all the bits the tanks will be enclosed in their own room with a couple of big porthole style windows giving it a ships engine room feel.

This has been a far more expensive plumbing heating set up than I first imagined and some would say that it would be easier to just have very basic system without all the whistle and bells, and there maybe some merit to that viewpoint, however I wanted to reduce our dependency on the energy companies and solar water heating does that, likewise so does having a wood fueled heating system, so does having a thermal store to hold onto that energy that otherwise would be wasted and use it later in the night to maintain warmth to the house.
The Warmsler is a mighty beast and we will learn to drive it properly however it isn’t powerful enough to fully charge the thermal store on its own and we dont want a bloody great big ugly wood burner in the backtofront room in front of the big window preferring something more aesthetically pleasing as opposed to huge kilowatt effective. With that in mind we will probably retrofit a wood fueled gasificatiopn boiler in the utility room that would need to be filled with logs (about a wheelborrow full) and lit once every couple of days to make sure that the thermal store is really charged with heat and leaving the Warmsler in the kitchen to be more cooking and ambient heat and top up for the thermal store. The log burner in the backtofront room would be just for when we used that room although it wold have back boiler and send some heat to the thermal store every time it was lit.

I have learned many valuable lessons from this and they will be heeded in project two for instance the entire downstairs will be UFH and there will be heating built into any interior walls I have to construct.
I would go for the same size Thermal store but get a wood fueled gasification boiler big enough to charge it fully from day one and I would site it either outside or near the door to the utility room so wood transport is easy.
That would also enable the stove for the kitchen not to be the sole or main source of heat.
I would purpose build the area for this lot to go in with ease of access in mind and I would make sure I pre-laid and pre-insulated all runs of pipe work for domestic hot water and any upstairs central heating.

OK that’s it for a while until I get home and start in the next round of filling in the gaps.

I welcome any comments or questions on what we have done so far

Love and peace
Bentleyx

Kitchen Worktops

We designed the kitchen cooking area to be much like a ships galley, where most things are on hand and easily accessible and the cooking area / sink etc are all just a step or two away from each other. We wanted plenty of available worktop preparation area both around the cooker and also between the cooker and the sink, our other design feature is that we wanted open accessible shelving for foodstuffs, herbs and spices and gadgets/ equipment etc.
The island was designed with the installation of an under the counter commercial style stainless steel fridge that is about twice the size of a normal under the counter domestic fridge. That has been installed and is running well. The only issue with it is that it is deep so we are searching for the right sized plastic type baskets to make access / storage and segregation easier.

We opted for an under-counter electric fan oven/ grill because all the (bottled) gas ovens we have used have been pretty shite and difficult to vary or maintain temperature. I took the advice of some pro chefs/cook we know who said “gas range and electric oven” was the way to go.
Where the oven is to be situated means that when the door was open it would block access in and out of the galley area but then we found a rather natty little number by Neff that the door opens and then slides under the oven. We are well chuffed with it and it is easy to operate. That said there are several functions and as all our ovens before this have been On or Off and temp setting having range of features to play with is great but we will have to learn how to get the best out of each cooking procedure. Luckily it has an extensive and easy to understand instruction booklet.

Door shut

and door open which just slides underneath Tra La

We selected a 5 ring gas (bottled) hob with the one large ring on the side so you can still get pots on all the others. WE chose Neff again as it had excellent reviews and ticked all the right boxes boxes for us in terms of size, appearance and quality.

The work tops themselves took us a couple of years of um-ing and ahh-ing and looking at different types and styles and comparing our own experience with others. Due to its durability and easy to clean functionality (and is regular feature in any seriouis commercial professional kitchen I had always leaned towards stainless steel, although MrsB, quite rightly, was concerned that it may look too industrial and out of place in a country cottage kitchen. As we explored and researched other different ones (granite wood re-constituted stone, melamine, etc etc we slowly but surely eliminated all other contenders and came back to stainless but we wanted bespoke tops with splash backs and over-hangs.
It took some time to find the right fabricator but finally settle on Complete Catering Contracts (www.completecateringcontracts.co.uk) based in Hastings. They were helpful beyond the call of duty and kept in good contact and produced the goods on time (a day ahead of schedule)
The tops themselves were well made and fitted well and we are very happy with the result
What we did was to build the framework for the kitchen tops and then fit 18mm marine ply tops. WE cut out exact;y where the hob hole was to go and used 4 x 2 wood attached to the surface where the splash backs were to bend up against.

Here is the carcass

here with the marine ply top cut to size with hob hole and the 4 x 2 inm place for the splash back positions. You can see the island template made as well

Then it just needed some liaising with Complete catering and soem notes written on the templates

Then pack them off with the courier (in Brittany I use the Red Van Man who is superb.

Then off they went across the sea to return three weeks later and with a bit of “you lift and I’ll grunt” No your way” No my way” and a mad dash by MrsB not to be in the photo they were in place.

Get the kettle on

We still have the finishing to do around the edge of the splash-backs and the til;ing to do on the walls of the island and various other bits and pieces but now they are in place we are rather chuffed with how good they look and how the overall dynamic will be when all the finishing touches are put in place.

Love and Peace
Bentley