The Porch Project Completed

Our back porch is our favorite place to hang out when the weather is nice during the year. It is screened in and we put wood frames with plastic in them up during the winter to keep it warmer inside and to prevent snow from getting in. Part of the problem is when its warm out and raining – the water comes right inside because the plastic isn’t up.

Our solution was to replace the screens with a multi-track window system. The windows are made of vinyl instead of glass so they’re super lightweight but very durable.

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Before

It only took our carpenter a day to tear down and reframe the porch. We had to wait until a week or so after the initial install to get everything buttoned up with white aluminum for warmer weather. The finished product is really nice looking and super convenient to use!

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After

In spring we’ll work on finishing the inside including putting an electrical outlet or two in.

View the complete album on Flickr:

Porch Rebuild Project

Grilling Season with my Range Thermometer

It’s grilling season again (finally) here in Wisconsin.  I got my Range iOS-enabled thermometer over the winter season and only used it once with a ham.  I used it today with grilling burgers, brats and steak and really enjoyed it.

Range Thermometer

The Range thermometer is really fast at responding to temperature change.  The problem I always have with even the best analog thermometers is that once they reach a high temperature, it’s hard to test temperature of meat that may be a little bit colder.  I can move the Range thermometer around from each thing on the grill and not have to wait for it to reset.

The Range also has a great feature that isn’t well documented.  On the silicone cord there is a ring magnet that helps keep the cord under control when you want to close the lid to your oven or grill.  It’s fantastic because the ring is a little bigger than the cord so it can move freely through it.

The application Range built is fairly basic but extremely useful.  There is also a developer SDK available for anyone that wants to write their own apps to work with the Range.  It’s definitely worth the money!

Home Hacks – DC Blower Motor

A couple days ago we had to replace the air conditioning condenser and evaporator units in our home’s central air system.  The unit was 21 years old and was leaking coolant slowly throughout the last summer.  It was just time.  The new unit is much more efficient, handles more air, and should be quieter even though it’s physically larger.

We had been talking about another item in our furnace and that was replacing the A/C motor with a D/C motor.  The A/C motor is called a PSC or permanent split capacitor motor and they are largely inefficient over time.  The Nest Thermostat allows you to schedule your fan to be on for time periods in the day.  We’ve been running our fan for 15 minutes every hour during the daytime to keep air circulating to reduce warm/cool spots and to help reduce dust.  Running the fan that much with a standard PSC blower is expensive and taxing on the motor itself.

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The D/C motor is called an ECM – or electronically commutated motor.  It has a built-in transformer to convert to DC, uses less energy and can change its speed variably without suffering on efficiency.  The motors are also built with better ball bearings and are meant to be on 24×7 for the life of the unit.  The ECM motor is set to run at the lowest & quietest speed for circulation and then speeds up when the heat or A/C turns on.  We can leave the fan on 24×7 for the same (maybe even less) energy cost that the old A/C fan for 15 minutes every hour between 6am and 10pm.

If you have an energy efficient furnace (which we don’t right now) then you may be eligible for a rebate from your State.  The State of Wisconsin gives homeowners a $125 check for replacing their PSC motors with an ECM if you have a furnace that is efficient at 90% or greater.

More about ECMs

http://www.thomasnet.com/articles/machinery-tools-supplies/ECM-Motors-HVAC-Systems

http://www.comfortgurus.com/product_info.php/products_id/3646