Category Archives: Innovative Products

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Touchscreen Electric Cooktop Concept

Here’s an interesting recipe:  Take the visual cues and design aesthetic provided by Apple, mix it well with other technologies (such as induction cooking) – and add a pinch of genius, and let simmer on YouTube till hear back from … Continue reading

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‘m always interested in seeing what ideas builders and designers come up with, and how they implement some of the more fun elements of building science – and this example certainly caught my eye. Continue reading

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The Kitchen of the Future

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Well, the kitchen depicted when Doc and Marty went “Back to the Future” (circa 2015), complete with hydrating pizza oven, voice activated roof mounted fruit bowl and dodgy virtual window display seems to be a bit far mark, but I wonder if those creative guys over at IKEA will be any nearer with their vision of the future (circa 2040)? Continue reading

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Increasing incentives and product options abound, solar thermal water heaters offer one of the fastest paybacks in the solar world. Of the may types available, implementing different technologies, one of my favorites continues to be vacuum tube type systems, like this kit from Kingspan.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a home’s domestic water heating costs should drop by 50% to 80% with the installation of a properly sized solar thermal system. Installed costs for typical residential solar water heaters begin at around $5,000, and they qualify for the 30% federal tax credit currently available, as well as for state and local incentives, where available. A great source of information about incentives available in your area is the DSIRE website.

DIgging a little deeper and researching online, we discover there are two basic types of solar thermal systems:

“Passive” systems require no pumps or electricity to operate, relying instead on natural thermo-siphon action driven by the temperature differential between the solar collectors and the water inside the storage tank. Because these systems circulate the home’s actual domestic water, they are mainly used in areas where temperatures stay well above freezing.

“Active” solar thermal systems use a differentially controlled pump to circulate freeze-protected fluid, such as glycol, up to the collectors and back to the holding tank through closed-loop heat-exchange tubing, which transfers the fluid’s heat to the home’s domestic water. For maximum energy efficiency, some systems use a small photovoltaic panel mounted with the collectors to power their pumps.” Continue reading