Apollo Hot Water Heat System Idea


  #1  
Old 09-05-05, 05:14 AM
Wiredright
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Apollo Hot Water Heat System Idea

Hello,
First post here. I recently bought a house that has an Apollo Hot water Heating system. I had this same system in the rental until I lived in (across the street from my new house :-) ) and I was totally dissatisfied with it for 2 reasons.

a. It's a gas fired (delivered propane, this is the country) and the cost was outrageous.
b. The system never performed adequitly (pun intended). In order to stay warm you could be boiled alive in a a shower. It also increased the problem stated in reason "a" above. $$$

IN Short, even though this system in the new house is newer, and maintained well, I am not going to use it. I ripped out the hot water heater, installed an electric one and that solves hot water.

Here's my question
Since I only removed the Hot water heater half of the system, CAN I HEAT MY HOUSE FOR FREE?

Think about it: All I have to do is build some kind of Stove/firepit whatever on the side of the house (detached of course) Plumb the OUT/IN EXISTING waterlines from the original apollo to it and I should be able to heat my house all Winter on ANYTHING (not dangerous/poisonous of course) That I can Find around. We have a Thousand homes going up all around Raleigh NC and I could heat the house on scrap un-treated wood.

The apollo unit (water tank) simply had 2 connections to feed hot water to a radiator thingy in my exchanger. Hot water IN, and a return OUT to the water heater. No Electrics. It's simply 2 extra connections for water.

I have already researched Apollo and have figured out that there is a pump under my house (in the exchanger where the radiator thingy is) so that solves my Water delivery problem.

All I have to do is HEAT WATER! The other half of the Apollo will Still function as normal. Voila, clean, non-smelling, FREE HEAT!

I anxiously await your responses and Ideas on this, especially in light of the $5.00 Gas prices coming as a result of the Hurricane in the Gulf. I have tried to research this online, but can't really find much. Websites to check out, and your Ideas would be Great. Thanks in Advance in fact!

Oh Yeah, Yes I do Live where it is ok to burn fires. I am outside city Limits, follow County Ordinances, and NO Homeowners association to tell me what I can and can't do with MY place. :-)

Dave
Raleigh
NC
 
  #2  
Old 09-05-05, 06:09 AM
E
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Aside from the fact that you must be pulling our leg, one of a hundred questions comes to mind with your project. The first is how would you control temperature? How would you store and continue to heat this stored water so you have enough heating capacity? Surely you don't think you can stick a pipe in an open flame and that will supply the means to your heating. Have you thought about shoot and ash. Should I go on?
 
  #3  
Old 09-06-05, 10:37 AM
Wiredright
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Angry Well, Actually I am not kidding

Um, OK.....


No I am not kidding. I can't see how difficult it would be. As far as temperature It can be controlled much the way a stove would to simmer water. I'm only trying to accomplish about 120-140 degrees anyway. The old apollo could hit 150 degrees.

I envisioned something like an older woodstove, or concrete firepit. I have no problem fabbing a metal plate that could be lowered higher or lower over the flame. The result would be something akin to a big pot of water on top of a hotplate, and since the drum was metal I could plumb my IN/OUT lines to that. For a container I toyed with the idea of a 50 gallon drum. I'm still turning over ideas and thought this was a good place to get feedback.

Ejbogusch, dumb comments like this don't help:

"How would you store and continue to heat this stored water so you have enough heating capacity? Surely you don't think you can stick a pipe in an open flame and that will supply the means to your heating. "


Do you think I am so stupid that I would stick a piece of Quest Pipe in an open flame and try to "roast" some water? Give me a break.


In the army we used immersion heaters to heat LARGE CANVAS containers of water to 100 degrees F. The heaters worked off diesel fuel.

I'm trying to heat a drum full of hot water. Very similiar to the appollo which did the same thing with Propane. I grant it had a thermostat, but this is not the kind of Hurdle that any fairly invetive person couldn't figure out. My house is already heated by Hot water. So all I have to do is heat the water a different way....this CAN'T Be THAT HARD!


Besides, I have seen (fairly expensive) Steam heaters that are outside, wood fueled, and heat houses quite well. I however, am not trying to go Steam.


As for soot and ash. Scooped out and disposed of like a normal fireplace/stove. What a dumb question. So to answer your question, NO! please don't "go on".

If anyone else with an inventive mind would like to respond I would like to hear your opinions, but keep dumb comments to yourself. I doubt though, I will find much here anymore.
 
  #4  
Old 09-06-05, 02:43 PM
M
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I believe what Ejbogusch was attempting to warn you about was a runaway burner, causing an over heated situation that may result in injury,loss of life or property. So I guess my question would be have you figured a way of controlling temp. What may seem like a great idea in reality would be a pain. How many hours a day do you want to stoke a fire or manually regulate temp? If it were that simple I wonder why mfg's aren't jumping in as we speak. If you consider our comments "dumb" you are probably way ahead of us. My guess is you have never seen a family overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning or family who thought it was ok to BBQ in the house with a charcoal grill. Admittedly I have only done service calls 40+ years, so I haven't seen it all. Good luck & please report back with your system. Where do you live? Does it get that cold for a long period?
 
  #5  
Old 09-06-05, 06:20 PM
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I would first check with your Homeowners insurance company. Anything that happens inside the house due to a homemade heater would probably not be covered.
 
  #6  
Old 09-06-05, 08:17 PM
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Wiredright my post wasn't one of sarcasm but you have to admit you failed to address these issues in your first post. Since I have never met you I do not know your experience level with designing, fabricating, testing and implementing a safe system for everyone living within in a hundred feet of your project. Calculating the cost of your time and materials to maintain such a system during winter time, have you figured out what your cost savings will be .vs your propane usage. Your heating vessel will need to be under pressure. Did you know pressure vessels must carry a certification of usage and meet local and federal requirements? What impact will your project have on the environment? Will it meet local and federal air quality requirements? My point is.. I tried to discourage you. Is the risk worth the savings and how can anyone comment safely on such a complex and possibly illegal project?

Respectfully

Ej
 

Last edited by Ejbogusch; 09-06-05 at 08:31 PM.
  #7  
Old 09-07-05, 05:54 AM
Wiredright
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A couple things

It appears here that no one is actually reading the posts I wrote in their entirety.

mbk3: " If you consider our comments "dumb" you are probably way ahead of us. My guess is you have never seen a family overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning or family who thought it was ok to BBQ in the house with a charcoal grill. " AND "Where do you live? Does it get that cold for a long period?"

I live in (near) Raleigh NC, stated in my first post. Carbon monoxide poisoning? Outside? Yes I've seen it (was a field medic, US Army, people falling asleep in vehicles on gaurd duty) I'm not burning anything inside. Not sure where you got that from. intial post states Outside.

majakdragon: "Anything that happens inside the house due to a homemade heater would probably not be covered "

?? confused here...it's an apollo system already. I'm not making ANY changes to the house. what could happen? a leak? been there (twice) already. Damn Quest piping.

EJ: I apologise as well, but re-read your first post. All I saw was " Boy, are you Stupid?"

The answer is no. I am in fact very serious about this. Even if it is simply as a supplemental heat system I think it is worth looking into. Let me start over, and if you truly do have 40+ years of service, maybe you will find this interesting. Although my first post was a lacking some info at first Remember this is simply in Hypothesis right now.

Let me start over. I still welcome your ideas. I apologise for being a little angry, it's not my way. So apologies to all.



Names Dave
35
Served US Army, 1st desert storm
8 years married
Semi Retired (I work part time now)
(owned/sold a CCTV installation/Service business 8 years)

Do all my own maintenance on my boat, house, camper, and cars. I Weld, Do Machine work, metal Fabrication for fun.
I like to re-use and re-build old stuff. Where most people think it's a waste of time or $$. I would rather bring an older tractor back to life then go spend the $$ on a new one. I have an inventive spirit, and like to think ooutside the box. I don't compromise safety. I also don't want to throw Money at the local propane company because I don't like them (another story) and prices are nuts for Delivered (truck) propane.

Heres what I was actually thinking and why:

1. I have already replaced the apollo water heater. In doing so my house has no central heat right now. (summer, so no prob)

2. It's doubtful that I will have replaced the central heat unit before winter sets in anyway. I'm still doing research on what system I want to install, If I do at all.

3. If this idea doesn't fly, I am out nothing. I am still going to have to remove the other half of the Apollo anyway.

4. I see no danger here for a few reasons:

a. I am not going to pressurize the system. Due to the pump inside the exchanger, from what I have read I don't need to. It is not using water pressure to circulate. The only way to use water pressure is to create release, i.e. opening a valve. This system already pumps the water from the top of the water heater, through the radiator in the exchanger, and back to the water heater at the bottom. Also, there is no one within 200-300 ft of this anyway. If I had to pressurize the system then we are talking boiler. Not my intention, and not what an Apollo system is anyway.

b. Runaway burner? OK, if I welded up a grate on legs, put the 50 gallon drum on top of that, built a fire under it, what would happen? It would get hot. It wouldn't explode. My house wouldn't burn down. I see no problems with heating water outside. Where is the danger, naturally following proper campfire/basic fire safety rules.

c. Enviornment? I have a fireplace. I also have a lot of hardwood stacked next to my house. Same thing. I believe I mentioned in the first post i wouldn't be burning anything toxic, or pressure treated wood, etc.

5. To clear things up about the actual fire. This "unit" would be about 20-25 feet from my actual house. No more danger than the campfires we have built out back when we have company. This IS legal where I live.

When we lived across the street (a rental property, 5 years and tried to buy) It also had an apollo. Long story short, it NEVER worked properly, it was always 69 or colder. The real estate agent we rented from sent outside contractors several times to examine it. I was present every time. None of the servicemen were ever REALLY familiar with the unit. They poked around the exchanger, checked airflow and told me to turn up the water heater. We did, burned twice as much gas, still cold.

Into the 3rd winter we gave up. I switched out the Apollo (in the rental) with a temporary 30 gallon mobile home electric one. When we moved out, I moved the lines back to the apollo, and no one knew anything. We had hot water, and we heated 3 winters VERY SAFELY on Kerosene. (we REALLY loved the neighborhood) Yeah it was 35 in the house when we got home, but in half hour jackets were off, 1 hour we were in shorts, house was 80 degrees. I saved a bundle by not having to heat the house all day. I Light and extinguish the heater always outside and it doesn't even stink the house up.
This was a 3 bedroom 1350 sq ft house and we were toasty warm. Only the little laundry room was cold cause the door was always shut.

I do not think, for a minute, that I can come home, light a fire, and be instant warm with this system. More than Likely I will be going the kerosene route again for 1 last year. However, I am the kind of person who wouldn't mind going out to stoke a fire, add wood. We don't really get much snow here, mostly just cold...about 30's. Sometimes we get a little ice. Again, I doubt I can design a system that will keep my house 80 all daywithout me being there to add wood. However, I am used to that and it doesn't bother me. If I can use a little kerosene at first, then switch over once the water warmed up, I could save quite a bit of $. Again, no changes need to be made to the house, or the apollo unit, or any of it's safety features.

The apollo unit cycles on and off via the thermostat on the wall. I can test the water delivery by taking the two lines, temping them into a large container of cold water and turning it on. If water flows That covers that right? Why would I need pressure. If I can get it to cycle that would be all I need. Of course If the water won't flow then I'm sunk. But From what I have read on it, it's still an electric pump and should flow once primed.

Which leaves me to the design of a heating element. I was thinking a cinderblock surrounded firebox, with small chimney. Similiar to a wood stove with the fire underneathing heating a metal plate. I can fab another metal plate to set the container on and devise a simple way to raise and lower it some. (Equivalent of raising a pot of boiling water up off the stove. Increase the distance between the vessel and the heat source.) I doubt the whole thing will be much larger than a riding lawnmower, but a little taller. I also will not actually be using a 50 gallon drum. Just the first thing I could think of. I might use half of one or something else. 25 gallons should be enough. Evaporation could be controlled with some sort of float valve system similiar to how a leaky toilet keeps re-filling. And I never intended to just build an open fire under anything. Again, I am thinking firebox/woodstove style, with a vessel on top. Get the water to just barely simmer, then flip the unit on and let it suck hot water from there.

So, with all this in mind, what do you think. I'm no dummy, and don't see how this experiment, although it may fail, could be any serious danger to anyone. Remember I'm only trying to heat a tub of water. The rest of the heating design is already in place. If the pump pumps I just need to run some pipe out to it and plumb it in. I think as an alternative it is a good idea. Is it something the average joe would be interested in? I doubt it. As a total replacement to the central heat the average person is used to? No! But a nifty Idea I think, worth looking into.

BTW, even though I have the fireplace, we don't use it. Big screen TV is in front of it. I built a wooden platform over the stone. My wife hates the smell and is not comfortable with an open fire in the house. That's why I always lit and extinguished the kerosene heater outside. when it's glowing hot it doesn't smell much, and lighting it and putting it out inside your house reeks.

They also said we'd never fly and land on the moon too!

Dave
 

Last edited by Wiredright; 09-07-05 at 08:13 AM.
  #8  
Old 10-26-05, 06:09 PM
paul6050
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I think your idea is a great one.....

I have the same idea on a more limited scale, but am very interested in the idea as well.

What I want to do is put a heat exchanger in the plenum above my A/C coil in my furnace duct work. Then I run 2 insulated pipes to the outside of the house. Outside I want to have a tank of hot water heated by a corn or cherry pit fueled fire. I would use a circulation pump to keep the water flowing and the furnace fans to circulate the hot air.

I envision using a variable speed auger to supply the fuel to the burner to control the heat level. I want this system to supplement my gas furnace which would still be controlled by the thermostat.

I was thinking of converting a gas fired water heater by replacing the burner with a fire pot. The water heater has the safety valve in it already. With the constant flow of heat out of the heat exchanger I would hope the water temperature shouldn't get too high. And if it does, I can kill the fire instantly with a solenoid controlled water valve and thermal safety switch!

I'm a mechanical engineer, so I like to think I have some idea of what I'm designing. I know they make these types of outside furnaces already, I just want to build it my self to speed up the payback time.
 
  #9  
Old 11-02-05, 07:16 PM
arrowshooter
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I too have been thinking of a similar system . I have a 50 Gal. electric water heater which is plenty big enough for the small apartment it is in and I am thinking of using a small blower coil unit and circulating water from the water heater through the coil with a thermostat controled pump to heat the unit.
I would use a 24 volt thermostat controlled relay to to bring on the pump and the blower at the same time.

I should'nt need a limit control since the water pressure and temperature will never be greater than the normal waterheating system.

Do they make a system like this? My idea would be to use a small AC coil and take off the refrigerant flow device and pipe hot water in and return water back to the water heater.

Have you seen this done? I need replies as to the type pump I should use
and whether or not my project would work or might be foolish.
 
  #10  
Old 11-27-05, 09:50 AM
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[QUOTE=Wiredright]Hello,
First post here. I recently bought a house that has an Apollo Hot water Heating system. I had this same system in the rental until I lived in (across the street from my new house :-) ) and I was totally dissatisfied with it for 2 reasons.

a. It's a gas fired (delivered propane, this is the country) and the cost was outrageous.
b. The system never performed adequitly (pun intended). In order to stay warm you could be boiled alive in a a shower. It also increased the problem stated in reason "a" above. $$$

I am not qualified to answer your question but let me comment on the Apollo. I have one. It works wonderfully even here in the mountains of NC. Obviously something was wrong with yours.

John
 
  #11  
Old 12-10-05, 09:20 AM
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Do a Google search for "outdoor boilers" and you will find a lot of info on what you are thinking of. They do have their limitations and problems!
 
 

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