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Thread: Water Catchement systems?

  1. #1

    Default Water Catchement systems?

    I have an idea for a water catchment system and would like some input about if there's anything like what I have in my mind. OR if it will even work!?
    Here goes nothing.. The idea I have in my head is a 1000 gallon (or however big) above ground cistern on stilts made of steel. Ideally you would have it coming down into a cone shape with your pipes going into the house. You could have all that internal with a outer shell that would have an air buffer between the inner cistern and the outer shell. With that you would have a fire box below that would essentially give you on-demand warm water, and keep the water from freezing in cold temperatures. May not be boiling, but warm enough for a shower or cleaning dishes.
    Is there something out there like this? What would everyone think about this idea of they mostly rely on rainwater?
    Would love some thoughts!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDWeasy View Post
    I have an idea for a water catchment system and would like some input about if there's anything like what I have in my mind. OR if it will even work!?
    Here goes nothing.. The idea I have in my head is a 1000 gallon (or however big) above ground cistern on stilts made of steel. Ideally you would have it coming down into a cone shape with your pipes going into the house. You could have all that internal with a outer shell that would have an air buffer between the inner cistern and the outer shell. With that you would have a fire box below that would essentially give you on-demand warm water, and keep the water from freezing in cold temperatures. May not be boiling, but warm enough for a shower or cleaning dishes.
    Is there something out there like this? What would everyone think about this idea of they mostly rely on rainwater?
    Would love some thoughts!
    First of all, google "Texas Manual On Rainwater Harvesting" and click on the very first weblink, which auto downloads a PDF document. (Or, PM yuour external email, and I'll just email you a copy of it. Anything you ever wanted know about rainwater catchment is in there-not bad for a bunch of Texans, eh?

    Second. Your plan for heated water. You didn't specify how you were getting your rainwater into the above ground cistern. I can only srmise one of two ways. Either you a.) let the rain fall into the open cistern, or b.) pump the water up into the cistern.

    If your plan is something like (a.) then your biggest problem is going to be getting enough rainwater in the cistern to even use. The amount of available water is directly proportionate to the size of the footprint of whatever is catching your rain (open barrel or cistern, roof, etc.) There is a formula for calculating that in gallons per month based on your area's average annual rainfall. (I don't remember the formula, but it's in that manual I linked to above.) The bottom line is, with a small (1,000 gal) open cistern, you don't have much area catching rain, so you aren't going to have much water in there anyway.

    If your plan is something like b.) and you have a much larger capacity for catching rain (cabin roof, pole barn roof, etc) then great, but you still have to pump the water up there. Hand pump is fine, but if you use a generator and electric pump type set up, you wold be better off just using the energy spent on pumping the water up there to heat the water directly.

    Looking at your plan to use chimney smoke to warm your water, I presume you will be using the same fire you use to heat your cabin. If not, you're just wasting wood. At any rate, I don't see a lot of heat transfer there. It takes a lot of heat energy to raise the temperature of water, and you're talking about raising water from 30-40 degrees to a temeprature that is comfortable on human skin (60 degrees-ish?) I don't see it happening, but I don't want to discourage you.

    However, I would say this: there really isn't anything new under the sun. Folks have been heating water directly on wood stoves for a millenia, and I think there is a reason for that. In terms of energy efficiency, if there was a better moue trap, someone would have built it a century ago.

    But good luck with whatever your endeavors are, and if you prove me wrong, I hope to hear about it.

    Edit: PS: Here is an other way to get to that rainwater manual. Go here: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/innovati...water/docs.asp and click on "Manuals" then download the manual.

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    PS: your plan of an above ground, raised cistern, will at least provide you with something like running water in your cabin. So, your plan of using an inverted cone-shaped cistern is not without merits The higher you raise your cistern, the higher your line pressure will be. Using smaller diameter pipes will also increase water pressure in the cabin, but will reduce flow (gallons per hour).

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    Another PS: Since this thread is titled "Water Catchement Systems" someone in the future is bound to come in here looking for ways to build their own. Aside from the link listed above, look into some of these other resources on building rainwater catchments systems.

    Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Montana by Gretchen Rupp, PE, Extension Engineer/Specialist (Montana State Univ. Extension Service)

    Elemental composition at different points of the rainwater harvesting system by A.C. Morrow, R.H. Dunstan, P.J. Coombes. Science of The Total Environment 408 (2010) pages 4542-45-48

    Roof-harvested rainwater for potable purposes: Application of solar collector disinfection (SOCO-DIS) by M.T. Amin, M.Y. Han Science of The Total Environment 43 (2009) 52255235.

    The last two are peer reviewed journals and may only be available through JSTOR (might be able to access it via Loussac or another public library-I know you can get them though UAA's consortium library.) But see what a google search turns up. The MSU Extension Office paper is an easy free download.

    If you cangt into JSTOR, try this one:
    Water quality and construction materials in rainwater catchments across Alaska
    Personal Author: Hart, Corianne; White, Daniel
    Journal Name: Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science
    Source: Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science v. 5 no. supp1 (2006) p. S19-25

    Or just copy print that and take it to a librarian. That one is Alaska focused.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the response. When thinking about this I was primarily thinking of rainwater catchment from a house roof. Definately not trying to re-invent the wheel but you never know about simple ideas tht people havent done yet. I pretty well knew that someone, somewhere had designed this or something similar or better but I hadn't found it yet on the net.

    I will check out the links/ articles you posted and do some more looking!

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    What about incorporating a new or lightly used hot water heater? Somehow connect the rainwater catchment hose to the "in" part of the WH to fill the tank. Raise the tank 6' off the ground and connect the supply line for the cabin to the WH through the lower drain hole. Not sure if it would work but something to brainstorm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skrap View Post
    What about incorporating a new or lightly used hot water heater? Somehow connect the rainwater catchment hose to the "in" part of the WH to fill the tank. Raise the tank 6' off the ground and connect the supply line for the cabin to the WH through the lower drain hole. Not sure if it would work but something to brainstorm.
    Ho would you power it? I'm making an assumption here, but I'm assuming if you're catching rainwater, you probably don't have any power. Although...you might be able to adapt a natural gas water heater to propane and haul it out to your cabin. A 90 lb tank ought to last a while, especially with a small heater....hmmmm. Now I have a project lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Ho would you power it? I'm making an assumption here, but I'm assuming if you're catching rainwater, you probably don't have any power. Although...you might be able to adapt a natural gas water heater to propane and haul it out to your cabin. A 90 lb tank ought to last a while, especially with a small heater....hmmmm. Now I have a project lol.
    Yes, you can buy propane water heaters or change out the orifice from nat gas to propane
    Tomorrow isn't promised. "Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey." E. Hemingway

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    Could possibly use an 'on demand hot water heater'? Small and compact and don't require much electric I don't believe. I would assume a small solar powered unit would provide enough electricity to power that if you didn't already have solar or wind energy supplying the home anyway..

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Ho would you power it? I'm making an assumption here, but I'm assuming if you're catching rainwater, you probably don't have any power. Although...you might be able to adapt a natural gas water heater to propane and haul it out to your cabin. A 90 lb tank ought to last a while, especially with a small heater....hmmmm. Now I have a project lol.

    Well, my thought that I didn't put down was to have the copper tubing going into the house coiled in a steel container of sorts and put it over a propane flame like what is on an out door turkey fryer. Similar principal to an on-demand tankless WH. My original ideas was just something to put out there as lightly used WH have so many uses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    First of all, google "Texas Manual On Rainwater Harvesting" and click on the very first weblink, which auto downloads a PDF document. (Or, PM yuour external email, and I'll just email you a copy of it. Anything you ever wanted know about rainwater catchment is in there-not bad for a bunch of Texans, eh?

    Second. Your plan for heated water. You didn't specify how you were getting your rainwater into the above ground cistern. I can only srmise one of two ways. Either you a.) let the rain fall into the open cistern, or b.) pump the water up into the cistern.

    If your plan is something like (a.) then your biggest problem is going to be getting enough rainwater in the cistern to even use. The amount of available water is directly proportionate to the size of the footprint of whatever is catching your rain (open barrel or cistern, roof, etc.) There is a formula for calculating that in gallons per month based on your area's average annual rainfall. (I don't remember the formula, but it's in that manual I linked to above.) The bottom line is, with a small (1,000 gal) open cistern, you don't have much area catching rain, so you aren't going to have much water in there anyway.

    If your plan is something like b.) and you have a much larger capacity for catching rain (cabin roof, pole barn roof, etc) then great, but you still have to pump the water up there. Hand pump is fine, but if you use a generator and electric pump type set up, you wold be better off just using the energy spent on pumping the water up there to heat the water directly.

    Looking at your plan to use chimney smoke to warm your water, I presume you will be using the same fire you use to heat your cabin. If not, you're just wasting wood. At any rate, I don't see a lot of heat transfer there. It takes a lot of heat energy to raise the temperature of water, and you're talking about raising water from 30-40 degrees to a temeprature that is comfortable on human skin (60 degrees-ish?) I don't see it happening, but I don't want to discourage you.

    However, I would say this: there really isn't anything new under the sun. Folks have been heating water directly on wood stoves for a millenia, and I think there is a reason for that. In terms of energy efficiency, if there was a better moue trap, someone would have built it a century ago.

    But good luck with whatever your endeavors are, and if you prove me wrong, I hope to hear about it.

    Edit: PS: Here is an other way to get to that rainwater manual. Go here: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/innovati...water/docs.asp and click on "Manuals" then download the manual.
    Excellent post, Rep inbound. Your link just covered all of the questions that I had. Thanks!

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    I haven't looked at new wood stoves lately, but at one time we lived in a house that had a huge wood stove in the lower level. The cold water was piped through a coil in the back of the wood stove, then into the hot water heater. At least in the cooler seasons our hot water was preheated.

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