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Discussion Starter #1
and I don't mean in the basement.

We have purchased a house that is off the grid and the seller was in the process of finishing it, so there are undone things about it. One of those things was a mystery cabinet in the kitchen. It is a bit bigger then the space needed to install a large dishwashing machine.

When we asked what was meant to go there he said he was going to have a in house root cellar. He did not give many details, but there was mention of having a pipe to the outside. Now this sounds like it might work during the dead of winter, but the rest of the year???? This is in south/central Washington. My feeling is that unless you insulated the hell out of this it would basically bring in hot air during the summer and cold air in the winter and I can't really get too excited about standing at the sink doing dishes with either blowing on me.

Have any of you heard of such a thing and if so, how is it supposed to work?
 

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You need 2 pipes....one to bring in cool air and one to remove warm air. make sure both are screened on the outside. Valves can be installed to stop air flow.
It should be insulated to keep it cool when you are heating the house.
 

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Keeping the Dream Alive
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Oregon Julie,

Think I may be able to help, but have a few questions first:

What are the dimensions of the cabinet, (width, depth & height)?

Is it against an external or an internal wall and, if an external wall, which way does the wall face?

Did the previous owner have any pipes installed or explain where the pipe(s) would run ?

Does it look like it was to be fitted with shelving, or is it just an empty space?

What is on the outside of the house where the cabinet is located - ie. garden, driveway, shed, or some clear space?

Questions, questions, questions,.....I know. However, I know of one such cabinet in Victoria's Central West, (where it can get really hot), where the temperature reportedly doesn't often go much over 7 degrees C. I've going to use the same system in the pantry of my planned future house.

Shin
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Shin,

Questions are good, although some I can only answer with approximate type answers.

Size-husband says it is about a 2 ft cube (I think it is somewhat larger then that but not much).

It is on an external wall, facing north. It is the shady side of the house (oak grove back there keeps that side cooler in the summer). There is nothing on the outside of that wall to interfer with anything .

The previous owner did not install any pipes nor did he tell us where he intended to install them, he just mentioned that as part of the process in passing.

There are racks built to fit inside this thing but I am not really certain as to how many and how they are meant to set in there as I don't recall seeing any brackets or a lip to slide them into.

It would be nice if we could use it in the way it was meant to be used. At the moment it is just a big storage spot for paper towels and TP and they can go elsewhere.
 

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Keeping the Dream Alive
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If you don’t have a root cellar, a ‘cool-cabinet‘, whether under the bench-top or pantry sized, is a great place to store fresh fruit and vegetables, and if large enough, other foods such as eggs, cheeses, dried meats, beer, wine, more beer, etc.

Ideally, your cabinet should be located against an exterior wall, on the coolest side of the house, and be well insulated all round - including the door - like a refrigerator. In fact, an old non-working ‘fridge might well be adaptable for the purpose, and could be placed almost anywhere. However, Julie already has the beginings of a cabinet, so I’ll work my description around that.

First, two pipes are needed; one to deliver cool air to the cabinet, and another to take warm air out. 4” dia. pvc pipe would be suitable for a small cabinet or ‘fridge, with 6” dia. better for a pantry.

The inlet pipe runs from the centre of the base of the cabinet, down through the floor, or out through a wall, to the outside of the house, and then goes vertical – about 2’ high. The pipe should be covered with insect proof mesh at both ends. (Inside the cabinet, the pipe should protrude only enough to fit a clamp to hold the mesh in place.)

The outlet pipe, fitted flush with the inside top of the cabinet, goes out through the wall if it’s an under-bench type, or up through the ceiling if it’s a pantry type cabinet. Either way, once outside it should then go vertical, preferably going up a few feet above the roof, and be provided with a rain ‘hat’. Painted black, it will absorb enough heat from the sun to expand the air inside, and start drawing air up from the cabinet. (This is called a thermo-siphon.)

As air is drawn out of the cabinet, it is replaced with cool air drawn in through the inlet pipe. The cabinet should be fitted with open weave type wire baskets to allow the cooling air to circulate around the contents. Outside the house, where the inlet pipe is located, you could build a small shade-house and fill it with green broad-leaved plants, which assist the cooling effect by drawing heat away from the surrounding air. A small frog pond with the plants around it would be a nice touch.

Oh, and one other point: If you install such piping to the back of your normal ‘fridge, you will vastly increase its efficiency, and bring its running costs down. – Neat huh?

Hope you find the information useful.

Shin
 
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