Yurt AC Upgrade – Part 1

It’s time to make the yurt more Brutal Texas Summer resistant!

The best solution to Texas summer heat is to leave. We should all GTFO, and arguments to the contrary are, basically, garbage. I leave proving that using mass transit to move the entire population of Texas to somewhere cooler actually uses less energy than air conditioning those same people for three months at around 100 o F as an exercise for the reader. Usually I go to Portland, which is better than Austin in every way but only in the summer, after which SAD reaches suicide-inducing levels.IMG_20180615_084940.jpg

That’s the point everyone there should leave Portland and come to Texas. Specifically, Abilene.

Despite this, I will be in Austin for most of this summer, so it’s time to upgrade the yurt’s hot weather abilities.

Because I haven’t been here, I haven’t worked as hard to make the yurt comfortable in the heat. Mainly I’ve used my Honeywell single-hose portable AC unit. I’ve worked for several days making diagrams, drawings, and cartoons to try to illustrate why it, literally, sucks. I’m not happy with any of them, so I’ll just try to explain in words, which will be even worse.

The air in the yurt gets sucked into the AC unit. Part of it goes into what I’ll call the Coolie Part that makes the air cooler and removes the water by using obscene amounts of my landlord’s free electricity. That air is then blown back out into the yurt, cooler and dryer than before. In the process, though, the AC unit generates a lot of its *own* heat. So if the air coming out the Coolie Part is cooler than before, where does the heat and water go?

The answer is what I’ll call the Hottie Part. The single hose you see in this picture carries the heated air and water out of the yurt. I wrap it up with something to insulate it so the heat doesn’t just radiate back out into the yurt.

So far, so good. But, you might ask, why does it suddenly feel like I’m living inside a sock inside a 747 climbing to 35,000 feet? If you do the math, you’ll realize that air is being sent *out* of the yurt, but there is no hose to bring air *into* the yurt. All that hot air being pumped out is drawn from *inside* the yurt, meaning the air pressure drops, giving one that ear-poppy unhappy feeling we all hate so much when flying. At this point I haven’t sealed the roof ring, which normally allows hot air to flow up out of the yurt. But with the vacuum action of the single-hose AC unit, hot, potentially wet air is being sucked back *into* the yurt instead. The AC unit then has to also cool and dehumidify *that* air, which means it uses even *more* of my landlord’s free electricity!

What we really want is for the Coolie Part and the Hottie Part to use *different air*. Specifically, we want the Coolie Part to constantly make the air in the yurt cooler and drier, but not touch any outside air. We want the Hottie Part to pull the air it needs from *outside* the yurt, preferably underneath where it’s cooler, and then squirt hot, wet air outside onto my neighbors where it won’t, at least directly, bother me anymore.

Why not use a simple window AC unit, you ask? Good question. Because the Hottie Part end hangs outside and the Coolie Part lives inside the house, window units don’t need hoses. I already have one I could be using, but the bottom line is that cheaper window AC units tend to be louder and shittier than my fairly high-end Honeywell, which is better built and also designed to cool an area nearly *four* times as big as the yurt with *only* the one hose.

Also, I have no windows. Yet. 🙂

IMG_20180617_232041.jpg

The Solution is to add a second hose, so, naturally, I got out the duct tape. 🙂

As you can see on the back of the unit, the intakes for the Coolie and Hottie parts are separate. Thank Fucking God. So all I really need to do is find a way to stick a hose on the Hottie Parts intake, and I should be golden. All of this is temporary to see whether it will work or not. The glue on this duct tape will make a huge mess if I leave it on too long.

I got 25 feet of AC conduit from Home Depot for my input hose. It looks like a 1984 Doctor Who special effect, but it’s not too expensive, is insulated, and will do the job. I taped a cardboard box over the Hottie Part input, vandalized a plastic to-go container to make a flange, and taped on first the inside and then the outside of the AC conduit. So far so good!

I fed the hose out through the yurt near the same spot where the Hottie Part output hose goes. I then went outside to figure out how far down I could get it without touching the ground. Touching the ground is bad, because Texas is basically a huge writhing carpet of fire ants and scorpions eating everything that moves, and cockroaches trying passionately to reproduce faster than they can be converted into more ants and scorpions. As I was adjusting the hose, I felt a sudden stinging pain in my left hand because of the yellow jacket nest I had inadvertently grabbed in the process.IMG_20180618_000010.jpg

After some Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream, and trying to figure out whether the bumps on my arms were fiberglass burn or anaphylaxis, I headed back outside with my Executioner zap racket. There were too many mosquitoes to fully savor my sweet vengeance as long as I’d like, but I did get some cool pictures of my beautiful violators in the resulting process of twitching electrical genocide. It was a small nest, so it didn’t take long. After zapping all the adults I knocked the nest onto the ground where the fire ants and scorpions could fight over who got to eat the babies, tucked the duct under a vertical rope so it would stay mostly in place, and then ran inside before I passed out from mosquito-induced anemia.

IMG_20180617_235615.jpgThe final result is *way* uglier than anything I’d tolerate inside my home for long, but *boy* does it work better! The depressurized feeling is *gone*, the unit doesn’t labor as much, and the yurt is *much* more comfortable. The insulation setup is also totally backwards here, because the white hose is the hot output hose. For now I’ve wrapped it in a blanket. I’m also seeing more mosquitos in the yurt because of the imperfect seal where the hoses exit. I’ve stuffed some towels in there for now, but this must be fixed airtight on the final version.

Monotonous Texas summer weather is great for AC A-B testing!

The next thing to do is some testing to see how much power the system uses on similar day. I have a Kill-A-Watt power meter that measures how much power an appliance uses over a period of time. My plan is to run it for a full day with both hoses while I’m here and see how much power the AC uses. On a day when I’ll be mostly gone, I’ll bring the input hose back inside and do it again. I’ll reset it first tomorrow, then maybe do the single-hose thing later in the week. One of the few good things about Texas summers is the brutal monotony, which is good for this kind of comparative A-B testing.

Next up, adding radiant barrier with Reflectix bubble wrap insulation!

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One Response to Yurt AC Upgrade – Part 1

  1. Pingback: AC Upgrade Part 1 Results – 24 % Better! | Scott Mauer

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