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Insulated cupboards (root cellar alternative)
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Andy Hunt



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Bury, Lancashire, UK

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 5:06 pm    Post subject: Insulated cupboards (root cellar alternative) Reply with quote

As I don't have a cellar, I was thinking of insulating my wearedodgy cupboards as an alternative, to keep stuff I have grown in the garden cold in the winter mainly, as in the summer I can eat stuff fresh from my garden, and of course tinned food doesn't need to be kept cold.

I was thinking of leaving the back wall of the cupboard uninsulated to 'let the cold in' from the outside, and maybe using this stuff:-

http://www.tri-isosuper9.co.uk

stapled to the walls and door of each cupboard. The only problem is, it comes in ?150 rolls of 10m2 - far more than I actually need.

What do people think? Is this a good idea, and is there anything else I could use to effectively insulate the cupboards?
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polystyrene.

I one knew some people who used it to keep milk cool.
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aliwood



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Teesside, North-East

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We built a version of one of these in our wearedodgy, doing what you suggested with the back wall which has a vent in it to prevent damp. We lined the front (three sides are brick) with hardboard backed with the foil lined bubble wrap loft insulation you can get from Screwfix. The spec of the insulation says it's equivalent to 55mm polystyrene. If we hadn't had the spare insulation we would have used polystyrene as well.

Good luck with it.
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Pippa
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cellars work for keeping things cool like modern heat pump systems as the the earth temperature remains pretty constant below top soil level.

I would have thought that insulating a cupboard will stop the contents of it heating up or cooling down as quickly as they would otherwize but without some form of heat exchange won't keep them cool enough for any period of time i.e when the weather is hot and things are going to go off.

Didn't the victorians use marble to help keep things cool, in which case would it work to insulate then put in an inner lining of ceramic tiles, or stone or marble?

I have read however, that by insulating a small cupboard with any good building insulation material (such as celotex or polystyrene or rockwool) you can make a great low energy cooker. You also need a cast iron pot with a lid. Put the food in the pot and bring to the boil on a conventional flame then put the pot in your cupboard, make sure that there are no air spaces and you have a full "cube" of insulation and leave your dinner to cook. You can apparently cook beans, rice, potatoes and stews this way.

When I cook a roast I always bring the potatoes to the boil and then just turn them off (leaving the lid of the pan on). When your roast is ready so are the potatoes as they cook in the residual heat. Water is apparently an incredibly efficient energy store which is why the potatoes continue to cook without additional heat. Did you know it takes as much energy to bring water the last 2 degrees from 98 to 100 as it does from room temperature to 98 - hence the saying a watched pot never boils.
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MacG



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pippa wrote:
Did you know it takes as much energy to bring water the last 2 degrees from 98 to 100 as it does from room temperature to 98 - hence the saying a watched pot never boils.


This is wrong. Every degree increase cost roughly the same energy in the interval 0-100 deg. Losses increase at higher temperatures, but that has nothing to do with the properties of water. Passing a phase transition such as ice/water or water/vapour cost quite some energy though.
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Pippa
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MacG wrote
Quote:
This is wrong. Every degree increase cost roughly the same energy in the interval 0-100 deg. Losses increase at higher temperatures, but that has nothing to do with the properties of water. Passing a phase transition such as ice/water or water/vapour cost quite some energy though.


MacG

Please look at www.theyellowhouse.org.uk comments please.

Thanks

Pippa
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Insulated cupboards (root cellar alternative) Reply with quote

Andy Hunt wrote:
What do people think? Is this a good idea, and is there anything else I could use to effectively insulate ths?e cupboard


Good idea. What you are describing is a good old fashioned larder. Ideally the uninsulated wall should be North facing and the floor of the larder should not be suspended floorboards, but be solid - tiles, flagstones or levelled cement.

Not such a great idea if the wall is South facing. Will get hot in there during the summer months.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy, I think it would be better to make a veg store outdoors unsing the insulation to keep it frost free rather than try to make a cool store in your wearedodgy.

On the subject of Tri-Iso Super 9 and other multifoil insulation, it's a hugely controversial business. You'd better read this thread on the Green Building Forum, which I started in March but is still going strong, having just had its one hundredth post.
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MacG wrote:
Pippa wrote:
Did you know it takes as much energy to bring water the last 2 degrees from 98 to 100 as it does from room temperature to 98 - hence the saying a watched pot never boils.


This is wrong. Every degree increase cost roughly the same energy in the interval 0-100 deg. Losses increase at higher temperatures, but that has nothing to do with the properties of water. Passing a phase transition such as ice/water or water/vapour cost quite some energy though.


Pippa. MacG is correct. It takes the same ammount of energy to raise an ammount of water 1C at any point on the temperature scale between freezing and boiling point. (0 and 100C at nominal sea level - freezing and boiling point are pressure dependent) Once you hit boiling point, any additional energy input powers the liquid to gas phase change - your water never gets any hotter.

The watched pot syndrome is purely psychological!
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Pippa
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skeptk wrote
Quote:
This is wrong. Every degree increase cost roughly the same energy in the interval 0-100 deg. Losses increase at higher temperatures, but that has nothing to do with the properties of water. Passing a phase transition such as ice/water or water/vapour cost quite some energy though.

Thanks for that, ok the science makes sense. A while back now we were renovating our house and my mother insisted on giving us a hot cooked meal at midday. She cooked various cassaroles in cast iron pots and transported them in cardboard boxes packed out with newspapers. They were piping hot when we ate them (about 3/4 hour after they left the oven).

Insulation definately works short term. (in practice that is).

For now the science of boiling pots will have to wait!
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MacG



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pippa wrote:
MacG wrote
Quote:
This is wrong. Every degree increase cost roughly the same energy in the interval 0-100 deg. Losses increase at higher temperatures, but that has nothing to do with the properties of water. Passing a phase transition such as ice/water or water/vapour cost quite some energy though.


MacG

Please look at www.theyellowhouse.org.uk comments please.

Thanks

Pippa


Quite a lot to read, but what I saw made me happy! I'm very fond of this experimental and active thinking stuff. People are so bloody conservative when it comes to houses, and it's extremely encouraging to see someone "step out of the box" in that way. Personally I'm very fond of thermal mass stuff of the kind found in BedZed and Earthship designs. Think it's the way to do it. Quite some job left to get all the wrinkles out of the details, but the only way to do that is to try full scale. Few are the concepts which left the drawing board in perfect shape - most things require many iterations and the input from many people to become really good and useful.
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tattercoats



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a spare (new) plastic dustbin I was thinking of using as a root cellar - sinking it into the ground, in a big 'ole. But I also have a LOT of plastic bubblewrap I rescued from landfill - and some off-the-wall ideas on using that as insulation...

T
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pippa wrote:
For now the science of boiling pots will have to wait!

Done it here:
http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2292


Quote:
1 calorie will raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.
540 calories are needed to turn 1 gram (at 100 degrees Celsius) of water to steam.


Quite a lot needed to raise steam! (i.e. 540 cals compared to 75 from room temperature). No doubt it also depends on whether the pot is covered or not.
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MacG



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tattercoats wrote:
I have a spare (new) plastic dustbin I was thinking of using as a root cellar - sinking it into the ground, in a big 'ole.


The problem with that design is humidity. And even worse: Water. The classic root-cellar incorporated some means for convection driven air circulation. A sunken pot (with an insulated lid) can maintain very nice and even temperatures, but it's darn difficult to avoid condensation and mould.
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tattercoats



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah. Thanks for that; I see I'm going to have to do more research on that... well, I can always double my spud production in the 2nd bin instead!

Cheers

T
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