Friday, January 15, 2010

Rheem Heat Pump Water Heater

I didn't know these existed, traditional water heaters work like a toaster, they have an electric heating element - essentially a resistor that turns electricity into heat. But this unit works on the same principle as your refrigerator but in reverse. In your refrigerator, the system takes the heat inside the unit and dumps it out into the room and in the process cools your milk.

In this Hot water heater, it takes the heat in the room and dumps it into the water. It is twice as efficient as a standard hot water heater. They claim that will save about $286 per year on your electric bill. The problem as I see it is that the unit costs $1500 not including tax and installation. It is eligible for a 30% tax credit (so you'll save $500). I believe that makes it 3.6 years to payback its cost not counting installation costs.

Since these have very similar 'guts' to a refrigerator, I would expect it to last just as long. I think when our water heater dies, we'll replace it with one of these.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sock Box Progress

I went to Lowes and bought Oak Plywood and an Oak Board. There were 2 sheets of 2' x 2'x 1/2" and I also bought a sheet of 2' x 2' x 3/4". The Board was 1/2"(actual) x 6" x 9'. I cut the 1/2" plywood to produce 3 boards that were 1' x 2' and 2 boards that were 1' x 1'. I also cut out a 1' x 2' board out of the 3/4" plywood. I used a dado blade to cut "teeth" on the 1' sides of the longer boards. I was cutting 1/2" deep, so that the boards would sit inside each other. I had the dado blade set up to be 3/8" wide and I was hoping to have a 3/8" cut then a 3/8" uncut area alternately down the side of the baord. In reality, my jig wasn't very accurate, so when I cut the smaller boards, I had to transfer the measurements from the other boards and cut them to fit.

Here you can see the boards cut, but not yet glued. Also in the picture you can see the 1' x 2' board that will be the lid and the 1' x 2' x 3/4" board that will be the base.

I cut two 9 inch pieces of the board for the top so they were 1/2" x 6" x 9". Then I cut a 6 inch piece off the board for the handles 1/2" x 6" x 6". This was cut into 1" strips 1/2" x 1" x 6". Two of those strips were routed on all four 6 inch sides. The other 4 strips were routed on two of the long sides. The remaining board got cut into three long strips. The first strip was 3" wide, the second strip was 2" wide, and the final strip was 1" wide. I then routed a profile onto the two wider strips. The original was just an angle cut, but I used a 3/8" roundover bit set deep enough to produce a little shoulder. The long strips were cut into 4 pieces and they were overly long so that I could cut them more precisely with the miter cuts for the corners. I knew I needed the two longer pieces to be at least 25 inches (24 inches plus 1/2" extra on either side) and the two shorter pieces to be 13 inches long (12 inches plus 1/2" either side). Here's a picture of the top pieces, trim pieces, and handles.

I wanted a deep red color to the oak, so I used Minwax Sedona Red for the stain, then Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane to protect it. The color came out nice, but I would have prefered something a bit more red.

The trim pieces and handles were all glued on using Titebond III glue. The horizontal pieces of the handle were screwed on. I also used screws on the top pieces, but that forced the top pieces off the lid, so I wouldn't do that again. I placed hinges on the lid and attached it to the bottom half, but it wasn't exact, so I had to break out the chisels to open up the top a bit in areas so that it would smoothly open and close. The final touch was to cut out the copper for the edges and nail them in place with 1/2" copper tacks. Here you can see the copper added.

If I was to do this again, I would redesign the handles to make them stronger. I was definitely unhappy with the way they came out. Also, when cutting the dado's in the earlier stage of construction, I would definitely go with wider cuts, 1/2" deep by 1" or 2" wide. I would also search for a better way to make the copper pieces. I used a pair of scissors and freehanded the cuts except for the complicated cuts. In that case, I cut one and traced it onto the other pieces. Here's where I got the copper sheet and tacks. I used the 10 mil sheet. I was afraid the oils on my skin would discolor the copper, so I used rubber gloves whenever I had to touch the copper. I coated the copper with Polyurethane as soon as possible so that it would stay copper colored.