Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Strong, Insulated Garage Attic Ladder, 120" FC

This post explores public information that is available to guide purchase of an attic ladder to serve the common need of  useful access to a garage with ten-foot ceiling, 120 inch floor to ceiling distance, FC.  A very specific need, however typical, clarifies the study of information resources. The study is prompted by knowing that guidance fails for a preferred solution with the current best-value Fakro ladder, LWP 22/54 Model 66853. I hope to be helpful to any shopper of an attic ladder. More, I hope to inspire marketing and product design at preeminent maker of attic ladders and skylights to the world, wonderful Fakro in the forested mountains of southern Poland.

I have so far experienced 120" FC just once, hired to install the ladder chosen and purchased by my customer in Spring 2018, and described in this blog post:

The ladder is Fakro :LWP 22/54 Model 66803, still on-offer at Lowe's, but evidently replaced in production by Model 66853, It is not economical to produce excess families of ladders. A newer model should surely have valued improvements, bragged-of. Product of a discarded design should be sold-off at discount, explained.

Here is a link to my Google Sheets fresh shopping effort for this post:

Here is an image of the spreadsheet, containing hyperlinks to seller pages. Go directly to the spreadsheet if you are shopping in USA. Else, just consider what I have learned. 

Fakro higher value comes from steady design evolution,  efficiencies in production, and from modern distribution efficiencies. Fakro USA in Addison, IL serves shipboard safe transit most of the way, via Great Lakes, and is the shipper of most online and order-desk sales.  In USA, needs are met from any home computer, with speedy delivery to a store pickup location. Bulky and brittle attic ladders, and probably skylights too, are rejected as Amazon delivery-to-home opportunity.

Amazon still offers a few crummy ladders, perhaps where cheapness counts more than arrival-intact. A determined Amazon-buyer will find some discontinued or over-priced Fakro ladders, in addition to the cheap stuff, for awhile. Somehow I found an unwanted Werner wood ladder at online electrical distributor 

Are cheap ladders stocked at Home Depot or Lowe's in-contention? Surely in USA now as in Europe and perhaps everywhere, durability and safety matter more than price, even for a DIY installation. A well-vetted professional offering informed sale and installation, is a good investment, if one could be found. Housing must not be built to survive thirty years, an attic ladder for a decade.

The Fakro ladder families are likely to be available anywhere on Earth. They will be preferred for value and will challenge local ladder builders anywhere. 

On then, to shop a 120" FC Fakro wood attic ladder for a garage. It will be a 54" LWP unless the garage attic is not fire-separated from attics of living space.

This is the default installation of a Model 66803 ladder, just-able to serve 120" FC, at steps angle 65°. It is workable. My customer is happy with is ladder.

Here is the default installation of a newer Fakro LWP 22/54, Model 66853. It is dangerously unworkable, yet that is curable to excellence if only we are honest about the deficiencies. Surely instance that a superseded design was then, better, must not hold back progress.

See that an "unlucky bottom step" wiil be a frequent challenge in ladder installation. Where angle is the variable of reach to floor with a concertina ladder, a range of 5° is sufficient to meet the floor, adding or removing a step. The same angle freedom  half the step pitch, is needed for a wood ladder. Protest and demand change then where Fakro wood ladder angle adjusters gives only a 2° angle range, 66° to 64°. Find that discovery in the album of my recent installation of a loft ladder for a coffee shop. 

A full 6° angle range is easily achievable.

All elements of the better deployment of Model 6685X ladders are proven and available.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Response to Planet of the Humans

Please consider this post in my email feed today:

Reporting, for example:
PV modules have a 30-year lifespan. There is currently no plan for how to manage this at end of their lifespan. The volume of modules no longer needed could total 80 million metric tons by 2050. In addition to quantity, the nature of the waste also poses challenges. PV modules are made of valuable, precious, critical, and toxic materials. There is currently no standard for how to recycle the valuable ones and mitigate the toxic ones.

Just click the search of the above paragraph to watch the feature-length movie for free, and more. Another search  displays much negativity about the movie. 

Find the movie with this graphic link:

Or, just find the movie at . 

I like this May 31, 2020 direct defense of the movie by Michael Moore, a Rolling Stones interview with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper (about 300,000 views).

Also watch this earlier interview, May 5, 2020, (about 30,000 views).

Michael Moore in a live discussion with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell

I imagine my own additional responses to the movie via a new Label at this blog, Planet of the Humans.

Monday, July 27, 2020

A "Commercial" Attic Ladder

This is the situation found in a coffee shop under renovation. Twenty foot industrial ceiling. A scullery and big refrigerator in a back corner under nine foot loft ceiling. There are many uses for the loft, although it is thoughtlessly crossed with head-high gas pipes. The loft was disused perhaps for years with a broken access ladder, not trusted.

This is a common happening with the thin soft-steel hardware.

Werner WH2208 ladders are still sold proudly despite antique hardware. This graphic, compared to my drawing, is from a listing at . $294.75. Not cheap. Less-expensive ladders are still made with same antique hardware by several manufacturers in Southeast USA. Multiple offerings from Europe have simpler and stronger assist linkage with springs that drop with the door and have little to snag carried loads.

This is first among warnings of a label glued to the topside of the door panel. Warnings do not address the weakness of the ladder with deformation of the door-assist linkage.

This is my solution in a modern Fakro ladder, defended in this post as a fully "commercial" installation.

What constitutes a "commercial" attic ladder?  Google the question and find no certain answer. Probably see guidance to something metal, perhaps power-operated, $3000. That is not the answer for loft light usage in a coffee shop. I suggest that professional, thoughtful installation of a ladder with clever and strong hardware, costing less than $350, $850 installed, is a better answer. A more spot-on answer is that in commercial usage,safety innovation through a decade of experience is the want, from a highly-regarded installer.  My customer has said he is glad to have found me, for I have no known rival in this.

I delivered the expected solution, a 54" ladder replacing a 54" ladder. I knew however that Fakro wood ladders include a smaller ladder LWP 22/47 Model 66801, costing $40 less. Perhaps that is a better choice, then with a "step-off well." I like a step-off well that is larger however, times-two, with ample space to turn from ascending or descending facing the steps.  The step-off well would yet be superior as a top step, to that on the ladder. Another argument for the 47" ladder with step-off well is that there would be more space to walk under the deployed ladder. 

Safety measures learned in a decade of practice are the most important want of a commercial installation, protecting the welfare of workers. Firmly grasp a sequence of safety pole hand grips in mounting or dismounting the ladder. Securely move out of harm's way over the hole. Don't be turning about in the transition, looking for lighting.

Here there are three safety poles, and they are not in-the-way. The third pole, at the side, is a barrier against backing onto the hole. An installer for commercial use should have the experience and means to invent solutions unique to any job.

The LWP 22/54 Model 66853 installation closely follows an installation one year before, detailed in a pdf album: Varma Ladder . There, I experienced a slam, a hard swing in the process of a second mounting of the door. I knew better. I was aware. The range of down-stability is extremely narrow with default mounting of the assist springs. Hinges of the upper step section were bent in the slam.

I know that stability of a steps-down condition is not yet resolved with factory-installed hardware. The first generation spring upper pulls worked well but were in-the-way of a user with a thin attic floor. My solution is to discard the factory upper pulls, and to pull springs to eye hooks engaged in strong rough framing as far up and as far as allowed, beyond the ladder hinging header frame.

Here begin admission that as a professional advocating for Fakro ladders, I am yet a free agent. I advocate first, for my customer. I will not be constrained against employing a product with adjustments and additions that better serve customer needs and safety, as I judge them. I begin always with full disassembly then able to repair breakage-in-shipment happening far more often than not. 

Factory-applied labels and other instructions are not helpful. I discard all door labels, then dissolve and remove glue and apply several coats of paint or clear polyurethane finish. This is an important element of professionalism wanted in a commercial installation.

I do not accept default factory settings where that would diminish user safety. This begins with the provision of means to adjust ladder steps angle in a full range from 65°, to 60°, to best meet the floor. Where angle adjusters best engage limit arms with zero to 10 mm exposed threads, there is not one best orientation of the adjuster bodies. There is first the default 45° angle of adjuster mounting bolts. Achievable steps angle with adjusters as-shipped, is from about 64° to 66°. This narrow range certainly disserves many buyers having an unlucky bottom step.

Here are the default and alternate bolt-mounting of angle adjusters.  Ladders are shipped with the default adjuster placement. For the alternative, remove and reset the upper bolt to pin the adjuster, as a drill guide.  

The process of angle measurement is well illustrated in the pdf full photo album for this job. Here are measurements for default angle adjusters. Useful angle settings are between about 65° and 64°.


Here are measurements for adjusters with the small upward rotation. Useful angle settings are between about 63° and 59°. 

Cutting step sections to safer, more-useful custom lengths, is among abilities I will share with installation professionals. Here is my first, of a first batch of six drill guides for section hinges, on-offer. Tools and intellectual property are elements of imagined  installer franchising via web site r5portals .

Below the shouldered drill guide with hardened-steel bushings see a section remnant that could not survive as a drill guide, or ever be reliably precise.

Monday, July 13, 2020

International Energy Agency’s First Clean Energy Transitions Summit, 7/9/2020

By posting this to my blog, I retain links and thoughts from my study, and share them.

Forty Ministers in an online conference viewed by one million, and I was unaware. From the IEA news feed:

On July 9, 40 Ministers from dozens of countries took part in the International Energy Agency’s first Clean Energy Transitions Summit, discussing how to bring about a sustainable and resilient recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and achieve a definitive peak in global carbon emissions. 

Involves the concentrated solar decried as awful failure in Planet of the Humans. The process takes CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Heat pipes. Colossal buildings.

- -  non-carbon fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia offer new opportunities.

- - a heat battery that provides buildings with affordable and effective heat storage.
- -  storage modules contain a heat-storing salt which can be dried in the summer via the solar thermal system, with the heat collected stored loss-free until winter.

- - hydrogen use in national decarbonisation plans
In Denmark.

- - consists of using a solid material, such as rocks, to increase storage capacity.

Nothing here for me.  More hot air? Did investor-viewers buy anything?

Monday, June 1, 2020

Nezzy2 Wind Turbine

I subscribe to news feed of Wind Power Monthly. This arrived today:

Aerodyn-engineering has joined forces with utility EnBW to accelerate the commercial development of the radical 15MW Nezzy2 twin-rotor offshore floater. Eize de Vries met company representatives at the test site.

Full-scale Nezzy2 will be ten times the size of this three-bladed prototype (Pic credit: Jan Oelker, aerodyn-engineering)

First paragraph for those who sign in:
A flooded gravel pit near the port of Bremerhaven in northern Germany provided the test site for the launch of the 1:10-scale Nezzy2 prototype. At full size, it will be more than 350 metres wide and 200 metres tall, but even at this scale, peaking at around 18 metres above the water level, it has the appearance of a “real thing”; and all striking details are in place, radically different from current industry practice.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Addressing Embodied Carbon in Residential Construction

I will attend this webinar of my ASHRAE Chapter.  I'm interested in the mass timber construction.
May 14th, 2020 - 11:30am
ASHRAE Student Chapter

Addressing Embodied Carbon
Join our Portland State University Student Chapter for their Webinar.

Addressing embodied carbon – the carbon emissions that occur during the production and installation of building’s materials – is the next big design challenge for sustainable buildings. As more buildings approach the Net Zero Energy goal (to produce as much energy as they consume) the majority of lifetime carbon emissions for a building may actually be associated with embodied carbon. Join us to hear more about MEP engineers’ roles in addressing embodied carbon, how Glumac is prepared to help our clients in this area, and some of the strategies being deployed for decarbonization, like all-electric buildings, low Global-Warming-Potential refrigerants and mass timber construction.

I think this relates to Shawood demonstration I admired at 2020 International Builders Show in Las Vegas. At the Hanley Wood Media Builder magazine booth I watched the Shawood Demonstration twice.

Here is the complete Builder booth sessions calendar handed out to show goers. 

The IBS exhibit was continuation of that seen at CES 2020, and summarized in this pdf.
New to the US: A Home Resilient to Natural Disasters  

Glimpse the technology at this Shawood web site:
Sustainable Construction Technology - Shawood Homes 

In fact, from this Shawood web site, you will understand most of what was seen in January 2020 Las Vegas Convention Center events. Imagine how quickly a home can be assembled with engineered factory-built beam elements. Exterior walls have full freedom of window and door placement. 

Know from the IBS presentation, that superior Bellburn porcelain tile siding is a very-visible element of this construction. Sample siding was on display. From the search, find this builderonline article:
Chowa Living in Balance - February 26, 2020  

Download a comprehensive white paper, from builderonline:
a deep-dive into the architecture, planning, exclusive construction techniques, consumer research, and building science behind Chōwa

Surely there is much in the sixty-year old developing technology of Sekisui House that is central to the hope of the ASHRAE webinar, Addressing Embodied Carbon.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Trial of Pacific Power Blue Sky Renewable Energy

In October, 2018, I signed up with a solicitor at my door, for Blue Sky Usage , to: 
Support 100% Pacific Northwest renewable resources from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The resource mix is likely to include wind (87%), biomass (2%), solar (10%) and geothermal (1%).

The cost is about $8 more per month, (for typical customer),   $0.0105 per kWh.

Blue Sky is a program of PacifiCorp., Pacific Power, of Portland, Oregon 

It was a very questionable thing to do, where I was within weeks of turning over the house to renters.

Over a 14 month period then, my renters reimbursed to me, these added costs paid:

At 3/26/2020, I reverse the cost to my renters, by sending a check of amount $65.59. With this, I advise them of this explanatory post. I don't trouble them to weigh in on virtue of the experiment. Where in this review I also summarize household contribution to Oregon's Public Purpose Fund , I treat both as involuntary carbon taxes . Please be patient here with the hyperlinks, and go there to my deeper writing on subjects if you can. I believe in carbon taxes broadly-defined, that energize public banking and that fund all infrastructure development including durable, most-efficient housing-as-a human-right. We must stop believing lies of the greedy most-affluent, that we are better off when self-interested-at-the-top investors are the printers of money, and design projects for their short-term gain. Those of us with assets on Wall Street, and I am not one of them, will see how their ride from the coat tails of the evil Ponzi schemers of an insane market, ends up.

Lumping the two carbon taxes and knowing that the Public Purpose Charge, PPC, is 3% added to a bill, the Blue Sky Charge would similarly be computed as 8.2% of bill. An electricity carbon tax of more than 11% is quite large and yet is acceptable to more than 125,000 participants. I wonder why any of this should be acceptable to renters, where there is no scheme to produce personal benefits for them. If charges are stinky to renters-unaware, they must be stinky for anyone. Yes, the PPC is stinky too. Program managers and Oregon political leaders must know that PPC collections with no possible return to renters and unaware, is theft.

Electricity Energy Conservation Improvements Charted for 22 Years  
(Including 14 months with Blue Sky):  

I have done very much to make my home-now-rental, energy-efficient, Electricity usage with a single occupant was reduced by half circa 2011, in replacing an electric clothes dryer with natural gas, getting rid of CRT displays, and full conversion to most-efficient LED downlights. Electricity usage is proportional to the number of adult occupants. Rising electricity billing rates act counter to the energy conservation. See that in the current winter, my renters used less electricity than the year before, yet bills went up. That change, not warned and not accepted, troubles me very much.

At May 17, 2020, apologize this so far is not instructive to my rental-home electric power utility, Pacific Power. I am bitter in knowing that a phone responder taking my Blue Sky cancellation admitted without apology, that Pacific Power finds added solar capacity is uneconomic. My cancellation then is with a vengeance. What is the good in investor profit from investment in some Montana wind turbine? I wasn't doing any good in promotion of solar capacity for my community, with lowered rates that might justify my renters making the Blue Sky contribution.

I recently was hit-upon in email by Pacific Power to make charitable contributions, perhaps a parallel of the Blue Sky deal. I replied with link to this post, unhappy. I said that charity is limited and must be done smartly. (This doesn't measure up.)


To help struggling families and seniors, we will contribute $2 for every $1 donated by our customers to Oregon Energy Fund, making your donation go even further. We’ve already contributed to Oregon Energy Fund and together we can do more.

If you are able, please consider helping those in need of energy assistance by donating.

Today I find on-topic, this current post at RMI Blog:

Says the concluding paragraph of the report of closing a coal power plant in North Dakota:

Cooperatively owned coal across the region, and the country, will continue to come up against the same economic shortfalls experienced by GRE, yet the member-centric, independent co-op business model remains uniquely positioned to lead rural communities through the transition. GRE has set the stage and shown that even in the midst of economic crisis, co-ops can take decisive action on behalf of their members and can lead the way toward a lower-cost, clean energy future.

Try to find out how this might work for investments by caring individuals. Google this statement: Minnesota: invest in cooperative power companies solar capacity 

From this, and many other resources, Pacific Power might find an honest way to let its customers invest with them in the common good of the imperative clean energy future.

Please consider here, this writing by Sightline Institute:

How Utilities Make Monopoly Money


See that Articles of Sightline Institute are now linked among Web Referrals of this blog.