Drying Drawer Over Staircase

Introduction: Drying Drawer Over Staircase

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A movable drying rack efficiently using the space above the stairs

A high stairwell provides a suitable and practical place for drying clothes. Especially in small houses these few cubic meters of additional usable space are welcome. This Instructable shows how a movable clothes rack can be suspended above a flight of stairs by using long slides, made from curtain rails.

By positioning the rack in the high end of the stairwell and hanging the clothes step-wise (see picture) this double use of space doesn't provide any discomfort when going up and down the stairs.

The space above the stairs could also be used differently: a bed might fit nicely for example. In such a case do not use curtain rails but fix the immovable bed thoroughly and pay due attention to safety. It is also possible to use it as storage space, in which case this long drawer may come in handy. These alternative approaches are not further presented in this Instructable.

A note on energy consumption: drying clothes inside the house outside the heating season is fine: no additional energy is required and the linen may even provide some cooling effect. However, during the heating season the evaporation has a double effect on the energy consumption for space heating. In this sense, it is wise to control the heating system well and to ventilate sensibly. Step 3 in this Instructable elaborates on the energy management around indoor clothes drying. The discussion in this step makes that this Instructable may qualify for the 'Explore Science Contest'.

In this Instructable Step 1 below explains the making of the Drying Drawer. Step 2 addresses safety aspects and Step 3 explains the effects of inside clothes drying on energy consumption. Step 4 highlights previous energy-related Instructables by Openproducts.

This Instructable 'Drying Drawer' was first published on 16 March 2015 at Instructables under a CC BY license, see also Step 5 which explains the license in more detail.

If you consider this Instructable useful to others then feel free to retweet (see Tweets from March 2015) or pin.

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Step 1: Making

Some words on the making:

  1. Whether your staircase is suitable for this Drying Drawer depends much on the indoors circumstances. The basic idea is to position the rack in such a way that it is convenient to hang out the wash, typically from a hall or landing, and that you can slide it away towards the space above the stairs. Main requirement is that there is enough space available above the stairs.
  2. A cheap and convenient way to make a slide is to use a curtain rail. Openproducts documented the making details for the slides in a separate Instructable (Suspending a Curtain Rail, CC BY, March 2015).
  3. Here, the sliding rack itself is made from wood on which (metal) racks from a conventional drying horse have been added on top. Alternatively, the wooden construction may be rigged up with rope to hang out the wash.

Depending on the circumstances and on your handyman skills and standards it might take 4 to 12 hours to get this job done.

That's all. Step 2 below warns about working safely and Step 3 addresses measures against increased energy consumption when hanging out wash indoors during the heating season.

Step 2: Safety

When fixing the rails high above the stairs there is a risk of falling deeply. Pay due attention to safety and preferably don't work solitarily.

See the next step for some words on energy efficiency.

Step 3: Energy Consumption for Clothes Drying

A note on energy consumption: drying clothes inside the house outside the heating season is fine: no additional energy is required and the linen may even provide some evaporative cooling.

However, during the heating season the evaporation of the moisture in the clothes:

a.) requires immediate additional energy for the drying process, and

b.) worsens the thermal properties of the in-house air, which makes in more energy-inefficient to heat your house.

Solution to both problems a.) and b.) is to ventilate well. Avoid situations where rooms are heated and ventilated at the same time. A better approach is to have alternate time-windows for ventilation (short times) and heating (longer times).

If the layout of your house allows (and the climate where you live) you can use wind energy to create natural ventilation and to drive the moisture from the clothes out of the house (see sketch); make sure to switch off the heating system in order to avoid directing all heat to the sparrows and the airline companies (i.e. to waste all energy).

In absence of forced natural convection (i.e. wind) you'll experience what happens when air is absorbing moisture: its specific gravity increases and a subtle downward airflow starts running. The humidity will flow down the stairs and accumulates on the floor. This is the right place to have a fan collect and exhaust the humid air from the house. In some cases, where the hall downstairs has a rest room with an exhaust ventilation system in place, closing the bathroom door might create suction at exactly the right place: just above the doorstep.

Some figures on clothes drying: after washing of mainly cotton clothes the difference in weight before (i.e dry) and after (i.e. wet) washing is a measure of how much water is to be evaporated in the drying phase. Based on some experiments (n=3) the water quantity (after spin-drying at 1400 rpm) ranged from 1.6 kg to 3.4 kg (3.5 to 7.5 lbs, approximately 25% to 50% of the dry clothes weight).

With the heat of evaporation for water being 2260 kJ/kg (source Wikipedia) evaporating say 2 kg of water requires 4520 kJ (equivalent to 1.08 Mcal or 4284 Btu or 1.25 kWh).

To get an idea of how much energy this is, imagine the following thought experiment: fill a kettle with 2 liter of water and let it boil dry. This will take quite a long time, and that's more or less a similar amount of energy.

Converting the energy to a total cost of drying is also possible, but highly depends on your local energy prices. Based on evaporating 2 kg of water, the energy expenses in the Netherlands would be between EUR 0.07 (using gas) and EUR 0,25 (using electricity), both calculated without considering conversion efficiencies (efficiency assumed 100%). This regards the direct heat requirement for evaporating the moisture from the wash, not the indirect effect by worsening the thermal properties of the in-house air (see discussion above).

A final tip to conclude: spin-drying is a very energy-efficient way to drive out water from clothes. Use the highest rotation speed for best results.

If you've read this step until here you might like other energy-related Instructables by Openproducts; four have been highlighted in the next step.

Step 4: Other Energy-Related Instructables by Openproducts

A number of Openproducts' Instructables related to energy consumption and efficiency. These have been listed here:

One-Armed Bandit - Mixer Tap Redesign

Hack a Power Outlet Kill-Switch

Energy Efficiency of Bringing Water to the Boil

Energy Saving by Omitting Stand-By Energy Use in Combi Boiler through Remote Switches

The next step explains the license under which this Instructable has been published.

Step 5: License

This Instructable is being made available through a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This Drying Drawer makes innovative use of the empty space above stairs, which is especially suited for small houses.

Republishing this Instructable is allowed provided that it is properly attributed (cite the name openproducts, link to www.openproducts.org, www.instructables.com/member/openproducts, or the original Instructable). For other arrangements send a Private Message through the instructables member page (www.instructables.com/member/openproducts).

This Instructable 'Drying Drawer' was published on 16 March 2015.

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is so cool to see someone else came up with my idea! I'v been living in same apartment for 18 years and have utilized the space above stair case the whole time. I didn't use a drying rack though... Our city has large garbage pickup twice a year and I found the sides of a baby crib way back when. It was a perfect tension fit between the railing and the wall but I secured it further by screwing wood blocks along underside. Has 17 rungs and has served me well for all these years.