Equipment

long-lead contact temperature sensors
long-lead contact temperature sensors

We have access to commercial and home-build equipment that is useful for understanding thermal monitoring, diagnosing system faults, and understanding heat loss. This currently includes:

  • temperature and relative humidity monitoring equipment. Our home-build equipment can either use wifi to send readings to a web service or log locally. We also have a set of commercial Lascar loggers.
  • many contact temperature sensors that can be taped to pipework and radiators to explore sluggish heat distribution, check for stuck valves, and think about system balance. This technique does not give accurate temperatures and the readings aren’t necessarily reliable, as it’s hard to get good contact with round surfaces. It is still useful for at least on/off and relative timings in the system. This facility isn’t easy to find commercially.
  • very light weight temperature sensors that can be mounted on balloons to assess heat stratification. These are also difficult to find commercially. Balloons on kite strings or neutrally weighted with carp fishing equipment are also useful for exploring ceiling vents and teaching people about draughts.
  • Some clamp on CurrentCost electricity “smart” meters (including the facility to read all three phases of a three phase meter), logging data to a Raspberry Pi. The meters are the same as were given out by some energy suppliers circa 2012, so if you need one, you could ask your congregation to check their cupboards. We have extra Pis, but not many of the special cables required to connect them.
  • Raspberry Pis with low-light cameras that can be used to catch meter readings for some meters. The meter has to leave the reading visible without pushing a button and enough clearance for the camera. Currently we also require an electric socket and enough light to work. Although other forms of meter reading exist that are easier to use, we do not attach anything to the meters themselves because of the safety and legal implications.
  • Duct anemometers for assessing airflow in limited spaces such as under doors and through tower louvres. We have a design for uncalibrated omnidirectional air-speed logging that would be useful for teaching about drafts and perhaps understanding when a building has reached steady state, but have not built it.
  • Smoke sticks for testing ventilation routes.
  • A laser distance measure, useful for estimating space volumes and surface areas.
  • A thermal imaging camera. These get used for technical work even though the data they produce isn’t very solid. People find the images compelling!
  • Remote handheld temperature sensors to get a sense of surface temperatures, important as the mean radiant temperature component of thermal comfort. The data quality means they are more useful for teaching concepts than for realistic assessments.