Appropriate technology is
designed with special consideration to the environmental,
ethical, cultural, social and economical aspects of the community it is
intended for. With these goals in mind, AT typically requires fewer
resources, is easier to maintain, has a lower overall cost and less of
an impact on the environment.
Our drinking and irrigation
water is fed from a small dam in the creek, water is fed into an iron
pipe that drops four feet.
The pipe feeds a homemade hydraulic
ram pump. This simple device uses the energy of the falling
water and a brass swing check valve to create a sudden water hammer
that forces a little bit of water through a one way valve and then
uphill to our tank. The pressure is then relieved, the swing
valve falls open and the cycle begins again. Clack, clack, clack,
This is our 1940 Majestic wood
fired cook stove. It provides heat and hot food. I also
plumbed a water pipe into the fire box to provide hot water for the
house. This relic is painfully inefficient and eats a lot
of fuel. Cook stove development essentially stopped at the
turn of the century. I have a strong suspicion that if
anyone cared to design one, a modern version could burn half the wood
much cleaner. I'll be doing more research.
More plumbing details on the
water heating wood stove feature. Using about 350 dollars
of pipes and fittings, and a used electric water heater, we are now a
propane free off-grid house. The water is heated in the
stove and rises up to the tank on the second floor, which pulls cold
water from the bottom of the tank down to the stove. The whole
thing flows in a circle without any electric pumps. I ran the
piping next to the chimney to reduce cooling losses. Building a system like this is nothing
to fool around with, if for some reason the water flow is stopped you
create a metal clad pressure bomb that could kill anyone nearby when it
explodes. My resource was an out of print book
called Handmade Hot Water. This summer I will add a solar
water heater to the loop to heat the water on sunny days.
Believe it or not, this combination of woodstove and solar water heater
was a common household system in 1900!