[SystemSafety] Smart heating [was: Comment on Risks note on "Smart Power Outlets" ....]
Peter Bernard Ladkin
ladkin at causalis.com
Fri Aug 26 11:56:50 CEST 2016
On 2016-08-25 17:05 , Martyn Thomas wrote:
>> [PBL] Burning your house down by firing up appliances?....
> It's not impossible (though culpably stupid) that someone would leave a radiant heater plugged in
> somewhere that could cause a fire if it was left on for a while. The electrical protection might cut
> in when the fire finally caused the cable to melt, but it would be too late ...
I am guessing this happens regularly but not frequently: Section 3 of
that, of the 46 people who died in Britain in "fires of electrical origin" in the time-frame 2011/12
(which I am guessing is an annual figure not aligned with year boundaries), 11 died in a fire
derived from "articles too close to heat". That's just under a quarter.
A phenomenon here worth remarking is the vast differences in national attitudes towards home
First, Germany. I bought a Dyson AM09 heater/cooler last year. I use it for spot heating, of course.
I have a large building with two "units" (no throughway between them) and more spaces used for
diverse tasks which are logically "units" but currently connected. Rather than spend to heat the
whole building to living temperature constantly, it makes sense to me to maintain causally-used
parts at a lower temperature (14°-16°C) and use spot heat to raise one to 20° when in use. Figures
seem provisionally to bear this strategy out.
In Germany, heating from the electrical supply is regarded as inappropriate. I told my heating
engineer's lady that I'd bought a Dyson. She lectured me for five minutes. Her husband called me the
next week and lectured me. Then his senior techie called up to discuss my heating and I received
I have not seen a radiant heater in nearly twenty-two years of living here, except industrial ones
on pedestals used by restaurants to heat their outdoor areas when it's cool or cold.
Second, the US. In response to my note, AlMac told some hair-raising stories about US building
electrical circuitry. He thinks much of it in the US is nowhere near being what I would call
electrically safe, because standards aren't enforced (or, indeed, required in some smaller towns, he
suggested). That reinforces my point, I think, that the smart money is spent on electrical safety
before it is spent on "smart power outlets".
Third, sustainable electric heating. I don't know whether sustainability is really a safety topic (I
have some sympathy with those who argue it is THE safety topic). But safety+sustainability does come
together in debates about power, notably the viability of nuclear power.
I wonder about PV roof panels feeding a decent battery in the basement which could support my
spot-heating paradigm. Short version: it needs batteries. High-capacity lithium-ion batteries such
as the Tesla Powerwall installed in a building are a potential fire-safety issue. Further, it is
impractical as a sole heating technology. I use 110 kW a day at the moment for heating needs
(air+water), and could use a bit more. That's at least 17 Powerwalls. I might have enough spare roof
space for PV panels to charge 2 or 3, and I certainly don't have the wall space to install 17 of the
things. Enough said here for now; more at
Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Bielefeld, Germany
Je suis Charlie
Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319 www.rvs-bi.de
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