Solar Wax Melters

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Alastair

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A bit of talk about solar wax melters lately spiked my interest so checked out what's available commercially.

They are super expensive but in the end I settled on this one, available from Ceracell for $650 + GST.

Pictures are thumbnail so click on them to make them bigger for a better look.

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They can't sell many of them because when I rang the guy he said they didn't have any, took a bit of argument to convince him to go look, and sure enough, they did have them.

When it was delivered I saw how shiny it was and thought wow that's all wrong it's not going to get hot. Also it's been raining ever since it arrived but i set it up outside with some excluders and a frame with a broken lug in it. Just for a brief time we had a bit of sun not even full sun, just poking through the clouds, and the result was amazing. Cleaned up the excluders and you can see what it did to the frame.

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I'm looking forward to see what it can do on a good hot day.

The excluders are not 100% clean, but if the sun had shone a bit longer the result may have been better.

I've been wasting beeswax when I scrape hives, mostly leaving it on the ground which is bad practise I know. Wish I'd got this melter years ago, now I'm going to make a rob proof box for scraping into and all wax will get processed, keep my yards tidy and reduce a possible means of transmitting disease.

Cleaning excluders has always been a problem for me cos I don't have a large tub to boil water in that can fit excluders, but looking like this solar melter will solve that problem for me, and best of all it is passive, set and forget.

In summary, love it, wish I got one years ago :)
 
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NickWallingford

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I think it was Pennsylvania State University (?) did some elegant research. Compared a series of decisions in the making of a solar wax melter to see what worked best.

Compared single glazed to double glazed. Not surprisingly, the two layer was much better.

Sloped walls versus square cut box. Sloped walls are a pain in the construction but developed more heat.

White vs black, both inside and out. Results went for black on the outside, and white inside.

And layer of insulation below tray or not - the insulation was well worthwhile.

Doug Briscoe, a NZ apicultural advisor, published a pattern that made use of this (in fact, a repeat of the PSU advisory information, I think). I'll see if I can readily locate that.

I built one in the early 1980s big enough for two excluders side by side. Had to have counterweights to be able to easily lift the lid. And I had it on wheels so it was easy to aim at the sun.
 

Alastair

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Thanks for the info Nick. Mine does not meet a lot of those requirements but still gets pretty hot. Main disappointment is it is not double glazed, which for the money, I thought they could have done. But it would be simple to double glaze I may add that to it myself. Other than that, not much scope to be able to change anything on it.

where does the wax drain to and how do you get it out @Alastair

There is a removeable tray at the bottom that any wax runs into. It's actually quite well thought out, and being stainless should last a lifetime I guess.

Only produced a small amount of wax at this point but it is beautiful clean yellow wax, even though the comb it came from did not look particularly clean. Looking forward to getting more and making a few products :) .
 

Alastair

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Nick how clean were you able to get your queen excluders? Did they need anything more doing after you took them out of the solar melter?

How many excluders did you successfully stack on top of each other?
 

Trevor Gillbanks

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Main disappointment is it is not double glazed, which for the money, I thought they could have done. But it would be simple to double glaze I may add that to it myself. Other than that, not much scope to be able to change anything on it.
I tried double glazing on my unit (I also made a video ) and I found that the double glazing did not work as well as the single glaze.
I found the single glaze heats a lot quicker but also lost heat quicker.

 

Alastair

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Thanks Trevor good video.

Yes I been thinking about double glazing. Any shiny surface reflects a bit, so for example if you are standing behind a window you don't get quite the full force of the sun as if you were on the other side. So there will be a bit more reflection of heat away, if there is double glazing. On the other hand that will be counteracted by the extra insulation. So the question is if the loss by reflection is more or less than the saving made by the extra insulation.

Maybe it depends what you use, glass, perspex, or whatever.

In my melter they have gone to the expense of double lining all the stainless steel, yet did not double glaze, which would be a minimal cost compared to double lining the stainless. So I'm wondering if they consider that less important. The piece on top is non reflective, and they say has UV protection built in, maybe that's important I don't know.

Anyhow it seems to work, perhaps I'll leave it as it is for now.
 

Trevor Gillbanks

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Maybe it depends what you use, glass, perspex, or whatever.
I tried acrylic sheet. It did not work.

In my melter they have gone to the expense of double lining all the stainless steel
I am pretty sure they will have put some insulation in also. Sounds like a great unit.
yet did not double glaze
As I said before. My home trials(Not very scientific) showed that double glazing was less effective and prevented the unit reaching 70 deg C.
 
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NickWallingford

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I'll see if I can lay my hands on that article I (ahem...) referenced from memory. See what it says specific re: single vs double, and the methodology used to get to that.

And a correction on something I said earlier - the place to put the small piece of polystrene for insulation is below the wax collecting container - helped to keep it hotter while more is being continuously added/dripped in made for a more consistent block of wax at the end.

What I might rate highly for a melter? Being able to move it readily around! My last one was too large, really, making it so heavy I was disinclined to re-aim it at the sun later in a day. I think small and regular would be more effective than my attempt.

Nick
 

NickWallingford

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I'll see if I can lay my hands on that article I (ahem...) referenced from memory. See what it says specific re: single vs double, and the methodology used to get to that.
I couldn't find the article, but found this mention in a Gleanings article about solar wax melters. Seems the research I remember 'reading' may only have been a summary from the (well-known) Somebody and Roger Morse book about beeswax...


One aspect I did not remember was keeping the spacing from wax tray to glass down to about 150mm - more distance either didn't develop the heat or caused it to get lost too easily, according to what I've read.
 
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tried double glazing on my unit (I also made a video ) and I found that the double glazing did not work as well as the single glaze.
I found the single glaze heats a lot quicker but also lost heat quicker.
catch is there is double glazing and there is double glazing.
you need to know what spec it is.
this is commonly done for housing so you can tune the windows to match your climate and house build.
 
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Trevor Gillbanks

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catch is there is double glazing and there is double glazing.
you need to know what spec it is.
this is commonly done for housing so you can tune the windows to match your climate and house build.
I was not that technical. I just got hold of a double glassed window and went from there.
 


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