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Condensation Reclimation Rain Barrel.

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Greetings everyone! After a long time lurking, this is my first Instructable, so be nice as I try to figure this out! :)


Okay, the Idea here is that I live in a older house that Was retrofitted to central air conditioning. The air handling unit of that AC was installed in the attic of the house. The condensation drip pan drains from the attic of the house, to the ground where it just.. kinda bleeds out to the ground.

Why not collect that condensation Run off and use it?

Now before any one starts screaming "OMGWTFBBQFREON!".. it doesn't work that way. the freon is on a closed system in the AC, its the stuff that transports hot energy away to make cold stuff... the Water we are collecting here is the condensation form the humidity in the air that is created from that exchange of cold and hot.... It's.. well.. a lot like the sweat on your glass of cold, clear, water as you chill out after a day in the heat, sun and humidity.

During the Dog days of summer, when I've measured it out? that condensation is averaging 25 gallons in a day.


So, yo get down to the nitty gritty of it? this is a basic rain barrel, I'm just harvesting drip water from my AC.

this instructable, as is, only qualifies to houses that have air handling units mounted in upper levels of houses. most newer construction usually has the air handling unit mounted in the lowest level of the house where the condensation runs right into a floor drain. there are float level devices out there that can be used to pump collected condensation water to a desired location. These things are purposely built for commercial ice machines, and add nothing but cost and complexity to this thing we are building.

I built this thing for about $15

The barrel itself came to me free from work. I work for a Microbrewery and the Barrel is what our sanitizing acid comes in. yeah, yeah chill out.. it's food grade. A blend of nitric and phosphoric acid. if you have ever drank a coke or a sprite? You drank this stuff. the MSDS lists it as 1,0,0. Granted, Ive seen the stuff complelty disolve a cadmium socket wrench socket in a week.... but that's besides the point. ;)
in any case, the plastic is food grade and the barrel is complely rinsed out and all is well in the world.

The standing frame is made from five eight foot sticks of outdoor treated 2"x4".  Two sticks are cut in half to make four legs. the rest of the lumber is chopped down to 10 26" sections.

take two legs and frame a 26" stick to the top of the legs. next. measure 13 inches from the base of the feet. Frame in another short stick using the measurement as your base line.
Repeat for the other set of "legs"

use the next four short sticks to lock in the frame. the last two short sticks are laid across the top of the lower frame to provide the support for the barrel.
 
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Tinker832 years ago
it'll make things a bit more complex, but have you considered misting water over the condenser? taking water from the inside air, and spraying it over the condenser coil outside should increase the efficiency a bit, and it sounds like you have plenty of humidity to spare.
Beergnome (author)  Tinker832 years ago
It took me a second but then I think I got it. I'm presuming you are saying to take the reclamation water here and then spraying it at the outside condenser coils to take extra heat away.

well.. in this operation.. .yer looking at the concept of perpetual motion... while I do have a lot of humidity to spare, there is no way I would produce enough to make the system any more efficient than it already is. we use a lot of condenser units and refrigeration at the brewery and we have installed misters on all the condenser coils we have. When the dog days of summer hit and all the units are being particularly taxed, we crack open a valve and turn the misters on and do exactly what yer saying..
In this system however, I could never recover condensation water fast enough to the reservoir to make it practical or worth while.. the pump that would be required would consume enough energy to negate any kind of savings in increased efficiency of the unit by misting the condensation coils.

On a related note.. this is also how window AC units work.. The condensation water from the business end runs to condensation side and gets thrown up by the fan on the coils to increase the efficiency, so, I get what you are getting at.

Also, little home owners tip.. if your window unit is failing and icing up.. It's usually just dirty, and the condensation water has pooled and is growing algae. when that happens, the condensation water cannot escape, and freezes on the coils.
take the unit out of the window.. spray the whole thing down with 409 or a proper alcilne coil cleaner, and hose the whole thing down. let it dry out, then reinstall and increase the down angle on the condensation side.

this is more or less the same reason why in the instrucatable I instruct that the condensation drip tube MUST be installed above the level of the over flow.. other wise the condensation will travel up the drain to the pan, causing the pan to over flow, and ice to form on the heat exchanger side of the unit.

but.. back to the point.. I think to your post. it takes about three to five days to fill the 55 gallon drum, depending on the weather, you would need a pump to drive the misters. Presumably you could run that pump under solar power, but still. I don't think the system could replenish itself fast enough to make the idea practical.

Don't think in any way I don't think that is not a GOOD Idea.. I just don't think that it is practical in this application.
Hey, this is really spectacularly done! I love the nice clean design- this is my favorite rain barrel instructable yet. I live in the high desert but I will use the mounting scaffold to collect rainwater from gutters rather than A/C as it's not humid here in the least. Again- fantastic job and great clear photos!
Beergnome (author)  jjthephotoguy2 years ago
Thank you so much for saying so!
by all means, please use the design to your own application.
I Actually dont have any traditional rain Barrels set up at the moment, but I will be putting one up just like this next week or so hooked up to the gutter.

If anyone takes any thing away from this instructable is the basics of set up of a standard food grade chemical Barrel to rain barrel, I hooked this one up to an AC drip pan, you,or anyone else can hook it up to a gutter, or do it the same way.

I must add that it has been particularly nasty and humid here in the commonwealth of Virginia. The device has been filling to over flow almost everyday from the wee little drippies from the AC despite pulling the tank down to half full everyday watering the garden.
skincage2 years ago
THANK YOU. I did a loosely related instructable about harvesting condensate for watering plants and my comments were overflowing with fire and brimstone talk. I'm glad that there's another simple and practical project in this vein.
Beergnome (author)  skincage2 years ago
I'm glad to oblige! And don't worry, the ible here is still young so I might get some flames yet!
I can imagine that the topic of AC's their waste, energy consumption, the potential for harmful bacterial growth, etc might cause some people to become... passionate.
I certainly wouldn't consider the water to potable for straight consumption, but rather grey water that's fine for watering a garden.
The device in no way interferes with the operation of the AC itself, and the hotter and nastier it is outside.. the better it works! In fact, in the week it has been installed, it has filled it sel one and a half times!
Do you have a link to your project so that I may see these commenters concerns?
bg_askins2 years ago
i've been watering my dogs this way for years
damoelld2 years ago
Nice spin on the standard rain barrel!!! I wonder if that would qualify as 'Carbon credits' for using the AC? :) Not sure what type of ground you have under the frame, just that if your barrel gets full it's aprox 460lbs pushing down on only 21 square inches of ground. Wouldn't want to see your new project tip over from the legs sinking. Keep up the good work!
Beergnome (author)  damoelld2 years ago
Thanks for saying so!
The ground under the Barrel is safe and sound, and I footed the device on top of of top of 1" thick paving bricks. in retrospect, I would've used 6"x12" concrete paver's instead. But rest assured, its not standing on bare ground on its little spindly feet!
heh! carbon credits.. didn't really think about that during concpet and planning... I just saw a steady stream of water flowing out of drain pan and figured it would better to put some use to it. It gets very hot and humid around here after all. but it doesn't rain nearly enough during the time of year the garden needs it the most. Meanwhile, this thing is steady cranking out water at all times.
In fact, since instillation two days ago, the device is already a quarter full of water!

I gotta go into work for a couple ours on my "staycation" tomorrow, so I think while I'm there I'll grab another Acid Barrel to make a standard rain barrel. I gotta fix that gutter down spout anyways after all
codongolev2 years ago
this is a nice instructable. I wouldn't be surprised if it was featured.
Beergnome (author)  codongolev2 years ago
Thanks! Hopefully after a find and fix all the late night grammar and spelling mistakes!
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