The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Frozen water notes

ice water 2010Going up our little hill to fetch 3 pails of water takes about 5 minutes once you break a hole in the top layer of ice in the tank.

While I'm doing this I often compare it to the early days of getting water from the creek where the main problem was finding a deep enough spot so the bucket would mostly fill up.

I estimate this tank method is 4 to 5 times faster and easier.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Does this mean you didn't get the water line buried/insulated?
Comment by Errol Thu Dec 9 16:30:30 2010
We would've if I hadn't gotten my wires crossed. :-) It's buried to within four feet of the trailer, but when Mark started talking about bringing it inside and hooking it up to a bladder tank so that we could run it up over the ceiling to the sink, I got leery. My knee jerk reaction was that I didn't want to be unable to use water if the power went out, and that I didn't want to use electricity to do something that's been working fine without electricity. However, I didn't have a better solution, other than digging another twenty feet to go around the end of the trailer, so we decided to spend a bit of time thinking about it and seeing if a better option doesn't present itself. Which is all a long way of saying --- blame it on me! :-)
Comment by anna Thu Dec 9 19:31:25 2010
If you want running water, you'll need water pressure. Either supplied by a pump or by gravity. But even the latter wil cost energy to achieve. You could use a small solar- or wind-powered pump to keep a reservoir on higher ground filled. But a normal water line gives about 2 bar of water pressure. You'd need your tank to be about 20 meters (65 feet) higher than the trailer to achieve that since 1 bar ≈ 10 meters of water column.
Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Dec 10 04:18:42 2010
Well, we already have enough water pressure for running water; we would just need more if we wanted to make the water line run along the inside of the ceiling. I've pondered moving the sink over to the other side of the trailer where we could just come up through the floor the way we do now, but I hate to use up our south-facing wall of windows with the sink. Still pondering....
Comment by anna Fri Dec 10 08:44:27 2010
I don't guess the trailer roof is very conducive to catching rainwater, but it would be nice if you could just collect rainwater and keep it in an elevated tank to provide the flow. An elevated tank would still be good if you used a little windmill to pump the water. That way you'd have a ready supply and it could fill whenever the wind is blowing. As usual, I'm sure your combined skills and ingenuity will prevail. I look forward to hearing how it works out eventually.
Comment by Lisa Fri Dec 10 10:14:31 2010

Why worry about a small electric pump when you're using an electric cooker that is probably rated >1 kW per hob?

Heating with electricity is quite wasteful, since even a big power plant struggles to convert more than 40% of the fuel that it uses into electricity. The rest is waste heat.

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Dec 10 11:38:25 2010

I was just thinking; if you really dislike an electrical pump you could put a cogset on a water pump (e.g. from a washing machine) and use a bicycle crankset and chain to drive it. A bicycle drivetrain is one of the most efficient there is.

Of course you'd have to do some experimenting as to the gear ratios you need, but secondhand derailer drivetrain parts aren't expensive.

Keep in mind though that an average person cannot produce more than approximately 75W for a substantial length of time. (see the human engine)

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Dec 10 12:02:20 2010

Lisa --- One of these days we'll probably put a roof on the trailer, and when we do we'll add gutters. For now, though, we pump water from the creek to a thousand gallon tank up the hill, which works great in the summer. In the winter, it's a bit more of an issue. :-)

Roland --- I know that the bladder tank definitely wouldn't be the worst electricity hog on the farm, but I look at each new electronic gadget as a slippery slope. Why start down it when it's so much easier to go around? I've been cooking odds and ends on our wood stove, but it's a steep learning curve and I figure it'll take me at least all winter to learn how to cook everything I like to eat on it. I just keep thinking how much easier it would have been to learn those tricks if I'd started out cooking on a wood stove instead of on electric. I like your idea of using pedal power to pump up the bladder tank, though --- that could be the happy compromise!

Comment by anna Fri Dec 10 17:34:43 2010

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