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Author Topic: Could a microwave be used to heat a home?  (Read 17540 times)

jules

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« on: 02/11/2008 10:07:25 »
jules asked the Naked Scientists:

Why can we not install and use microwave technology for domestic central
heating systems, to heat the water  and radiators in the home, cost
effectively?...

What do you think?


 

Offline graham.d

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #1 on: 02/11/2008 10:55:31 »
Hi Jules, I am not sure exactly how you are thinking of utilising microwaves to any advantage here. Microwaves, when used for cooking, are basically radio waves around 2.4GHz, which is a good absorption frequency for water molecules. This is why it is good for cooking. It penetrates objects and heats the water within them throughout the object. Like any radio wave it will not pass through metal and will not heat objects that are not electrical conductors. Of course it can cook humans as well as any other meat so these high energy radio wave need to be "contained" in a metal box.

As it uses electrical energy to make microwaves, and not with 100% efficiency, it would not seem practical to use them for heating water (say) as it is much more efficient, and less hazardous, to simply use an immersion heater.
 

Offline Pumblechook

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #2 on: 02/11/2008 11:21:01 »
Eaxactly.  Our microwave produces 850 Watts of radio frequency power but it takes 1400 Watts from the mains.  It is more efficient to heat water directly with a heating element.

But it is not true that microwaves will not heat materials which are not electrical conductors.  Materials like PVC will get warm in a microwave due to dielectric heating. Basically the molecules of the materials vibrate (heat up) in the presence of an alternating electric field.   That is why some plastic containers are suitable for microwave use (made of Polyethelene or PTFE - low dieletric loss - don't respond much to an applied field) and some are not. 
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #3 on: 02/11/2008 19:00:07 »
It just depends whether you want to do. Physically warm the room or create the sensation of warmth.
If you actually want to warm things the best way is to use the cheapest source of heat. However if you want to create the sensation of radiated warmth without heating things too much (a bit like an electric bar fire)  you should use microwaves but not the 2.4 GHz of a conventional microwave you should use submillimetere teraherz microwaves.  These waves penetrate your clothes and are used for special kinds of security radar which show you naked!  They also penetrate the skin slightly and stimulate the heat senors in your skin without creating too much overall heat.  These can create the sensation of warmth.  High power versions of this have been proposed as a method of crowd control by creating a non damaging sensation of burning and causing people to turn and run away from the transmitter.
 

Offline techmind

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #4 on: 05/11/2008 21:23:45 »
Infra-red radiant heaters are widely used in industrial buildings, warehouses, and some shops to give the feeling of warmth at a much lower cost than actually heating the air. They're also useful in entranceways where the air is continually washing indoors and out. They don't necessarily visibly glow at all.
I believe several Waitrose branches which have IR radiant heaters fixed way up in the ceiling near the entrance and/or tills/reception desk. They look a bit like grey heatsinks.
« Last Edit: 05/11/2008 21:31:26 by techmind »
 

Offline daveshorts

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #5 on: 07/11/2008 11:31:56 »
I think the problem with both the microwaves and the terrahertz waves is that pieces of metal can redirect and focus the waves which could increase the intensity to a dangerous level. I think that metal framed glasses may cause issues with the US pain ray that you were talking about.
 

Offline AB Hammer

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #6 on: 12/11/2008 20:51:10 »
I' sorry but this gives me the vision of the hamster in the microwave. Beep!! pop! goes the weasel, look you've got a little balloon. [:o)]
 

Offline ironflex

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #7 on: 17/11/2008 22:50:31 »
There no relation between microwave oven to heat.but its also produce heat internally,that means inside the microwave oven.
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Offline Onlyinterestednotdevoted

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #8 on: 17/11/2008 23:28:10 »
If microwaves are so energy ineficient, why not just cook with electric devices?
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #9 on: 18/11/2008 10:29:22 »
It all a matter of where most of the energy in the radio waves is deposited  this is usualy around one quarter to half a wavelength  inside a poorly conducting material like meat and vegetables ie a few centimeteres from the surface in the case of a 2.45GHz microwave.  This means that what you are cooking is heated FROM THE INSIDE and therefore cooks much quicker.  A conventional cooker heats the surface and this energy has to be conducted inside and this takes time and therefore requires more energy to heat the surroundings.  It is quite possible to cook something in a microwave oven while the oven stays quite cool.
« Last Edit: 18/11/2008 10:45:39 by Soul Surfer »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #10 on: 18/11/2008 10:52:27 »
As for just creating a sense of warmth while using a minimum amount of energy and not heating the surroundings.  Teraherz waves are probably the best because they penetrate the clothing and stimulate the heat sensors in the skin directly.  Microwaves are dangerous because they penetrate much deeper and can overheat and damage living tissue in areas where there are no heat sensors.  There are some terrible stories about early power microwave engineers cooking up their guts with microwaves and not realising it and dying in agony some days later when the dead intestines fell apart inside them givong them preitonoitis.
 

lyner

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Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #11 on: 18/11/2008 13:11:18 »
I have just put some lunch in the microwave. Cheers, SS, bon apetite!
 

Offline oldsmobile_man

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Re: Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #12 on: 29/11/2013 11:30:52 »
I came up with an idea to heat a house using a microwave oven back in 1984. I assembled my invention back in 2004 and it WORKS
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #13 on: 29/11/2013 19:16:58 »
Oldsmobile Man,
I am curious what you actually did.  What is being heated?  How do electronic gizmos, knives, forks, and etc hold up?

If one could effectively keep the microwaves in a house (foil on the walls), and somehow make a uniform distribution around the house, it would be interesting if one could actually just specifically warm the people in the house with low intensity microwaves. 

Heat the people, not the house.

But, everything would have to be designed to be microwave safe.  For example, one may choose to use button flies rather than zipper flies.  And, it would have to go through years of animal testing before beginning human trials.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #14 on: 30/11/2013 13:10:25 »
Quote
Heat the people, not the house.

The Inuit solved this problem about 40,000 years ago. Sealskin parkas consume no electricity, and don't melt the roof. Just eat plenty of blubber and sleep with your boots on.
 

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Re: Could a microwave be used to heat a home?
« Reply #14 on: 30/11/2013 13:10:25 »

 

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