Butcher Shop Natural Refrigeration

Structural Concrete Natural Refrigeration

The structural concrete of the butcher shop is naturally running from 34°F to 37°F with the air temperature running at 36°F to 38°F depending on location. This is perfect. Consider that is a stable temperature and as much as 72°F above the outdoor temperatures without heating the building. During the summer it is still around refrigeration temperatures and naturally 45°F below the outdoor temperatures without any mechanical refrigeration.

My ultimate goal is that the building will be able to keep it self warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer that we don’t have to use any, or only just a little, auxiliary heating and cooling. After labor the largest operating expense of a meat processing facility is energy and that is almost all for heating and cooling. By having natural processes work for us such that we store the winter coolth over summer and the summer warmth over winter in a giant insulated flywheel of thermal mass, the building, we get an average lower setting than our annual mean temperature which is normally about 50°F outdoors in our location.

As we finish the butcher shop this will change some because equipment will add heat however that equipment is concentrated in the locations I want the heat so I anticipate this adjustment will go well and in my favor.

The building is divided up into six shells with layers of insulation between each one that allows us to run the different shells naturally at different temperatures. Outer shell, structural shell, reefer, brine room, cooler and freezer. It is R-120 from the freezer to the outdoors. Additionally we’ll have the coolth attic cold storage tanks for storing cold up above the colder sections of the building.

I still plan to install some mechanical refrigeration but it won’t have to be as large or powerful as it would need to be if we were totally dependent on it. Also, quite importantly, should the mechanical refrigeration fail our system can coast and glide gently for weeks, perhaps indefinitely. According to my math, two weeks of our winter cold will be enough to charge our coolth attic batteries for 46 weeks of our hottest summer temperatures. That will get us around the year to the next cycle of cold when we can ride the natural temperature cycles again.

Outdoors: 14°F/-14°F Sunny, Light Snow
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F

Daily Spark: All my lawns are pasture.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Butcher Shop Natural Refrigeration

  1. T.J. says:

    Remind me again, please. Do you already have air conduits through the concrete and insulation to each area? You would then have some small fans that would blow cold air from the attic space with the large amount of ice to each room? I remember you did a lot so that you would have everything in the walls or floors already, without visible conduits, but I don’t remember air vents.

    • There are air channels too and so far we’re just using natural circulation for moving the air. We have a tower which creates a pressure differential that works quite well already even though it’s only half the final height. At least initially we’ll also have some fans for backup and well as possible high thrust moments as I develop the system and gain confidence in it’s workings.

  2. Julia says:

    Why can’t every building in similar climates have these features?

    Even a pre-existing building can plug into the great thermal battery of the earth. We had a geothermal heating and cooling system installed at our home in Wisconsin (at great expense – we drilled 4 150′ deep wells) and then had to sell the house before we could collect enough data to justify its cost. Of course, looking at Google Maps, the new owners have bulldozed my gardens and taken out all the fruit trees and bushes as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take out the solar hot water and never figure out how to use the whole house fan.


    • How sad. Too bad the buyer wasn’t someone who didn’t similarly appreciate these things you created. Google viewing one’s old home might be one of those temptations to avoid. I hadn’t thought of that before…

  3. Peter says:

    You should probably add some representative butcher shop construction temps to your current outside/tiny house list of course. :-)

    • Aye, what I would love is a digital multiplexing wireless data logging temperature, humidity, wind speed system that could pull it all together. But that costs either money or time to build – or both. I’ve built them before. Unfortunately it’s on my want list not on my need list. Boys and their toys. :)

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