Constructing A Mud Shower Pan For Tile Installations

The construction methods of a mud shower pan in a tile shower remodel can make or mistake the completed installation.

Faulty shower pans can lead to cracks, leaks, and an overall disaster.

Follow these steps in creating the mud pan and be sure to read and re-read the entire article, as to get all materials necessary for the project and ensure the endeavour is done right the first time.

1. Complete demolition of shower area down to subfloor and wall studs.

Remove all debris, and leave area in broom-clean condition.

2. Create a moisture barrier to protect against wood rot and deterioration.

Staple 15lb roofing felt to wall studs and over subfloor. Overlapping seamed areas where necessary.

3. Create the curb.

You can frame the shower curb using wood 2x4s nailed together. It is industry standard for a six inch curb, so three 2x4s stacked together will due. Recommend using stainless steel nails for fastening together.

You can also substitute a 2×4 curb frame with a pre-fabricated curb.

4. Build a pan pre-slope.

The mud mix used to complete project is 1 part Type II Portland Cement to 4 parts clean moist sand. Ensure you have enough bags to mix to complete whole project. (You don’t want to run out and then have a “cold” pour meet a “hot” cure.)

Create a pre-slope to direct water towards the drain. Ensure to keep outside perimeter level and bear in mind that your final slope should rise 1/4″ for every foot.

5. Install waterproof liner.

You’ll need to purchase a waterproof liner that will wrap completely over your curb and fold inside pan and wrap tightly up wall studs to rise at least 3″ above curb on all three walls.

Do not fasten or penetrate liner anywhere but on edges over curb and on top of wall studs. (Staple or nail off)

Make an “X” cut on liner over drain and stuff inside.

6. Install cement backerboard on wall studs.

Install 1/2″ cement backerboard units over wall studs. Use approved fasteners, refer to installation instuctions located on sticker of backerboard product.

Skim coat seams with 2″ fiberglass mesh tape and thinset.

Be sure to NOT penetrate waterproof liner, and stay at least 6″ above bottom of backerboard where it meets shower pan.

7.   Trowel  mud shower pan.

Use mud mix (1 part Type II Portland Cement to 4 parts clean moist sand) to create shower pan.

Keep perimeter level and  trowel  slope with a rise of 1/4″ for every foot. Pack about an inch of mud over entire curb.

Use flat edge of  trowel  to smooth mud over entire pan and curb. Let cure for at least 24 hours.

8. Set tile.

Install tile over pan and walls using appropriate thin-set mortar.

Good luck!

And Have fun.

Finding a House Painter

There are many reasons why you should hire a house painter, but knowing exactly how to go about it can be confusing. If you want professional-looking results and none of the stress of doing it yourself, follow these few easy steps to finding a painter who fits your needs.

The easiest way to begin your search is through the Internet. Only there can you quickly find contacts and information that can get you on your way to having a beautifully painted home. Using the Internet also has additional benefits that will be discussed later.

In the search engine of your choice, type in your area name followed by the word painter. Focusing your search to painters in your area is important because only they can know exactly the type of paint and method to use for your particular region. Select a few reliable-looking Web sites and begin browsing the company’s information, taking notes on each. In particular, be on the lookout for clearly displayed contact details, a promising statement regarding the company’s mission, and most important, testimonials and pictures of past work. An accessible Web site that contains testimonials and a portfolio is a sure sign that the painter takes his or her work seriously.

As you are browsing each company’s site, take note of the services each offers and if these match up to your current needs. The best painters offer services that include, but are not limited to,

o Complete interior and exterior house painting

o Specialty and faux finishes

o Green/low VOC coatings

o Wallpaper hanging and removal

o Power Washing and mildew removal

o Comprehensive project and surface evaluation

o Detailed painting specification and estimating

o Color consultation and schematics

o Prompt and accurate scheduling

o Smart job management and supervision

o Thorough surface preparation

o Minor carpentry and dry rot repair

o Consistent, on time completion of painting projects

o Quality workmanship and materials

o Two-year free touch up service.

Eliminate any painters from your list that do not offer services for your required project. Once you have narrowed the list to at least two prospects, contact them and invite them to you home to give you a bid. Ask for a copy of the bid to compare with your final bill. All that’s left now is to hire the bidder that you feel best matches your needs and price range, and you’re on your way to having a beautifully painted house.

Selecting a Chandelier

Chandeliers are special lights that have been in use for a long time. The word chandelier comes from the French word ‘chandelle’, which means candle. In the earlier period, these lights were made of animal fat and were attached to wooden spikes. They used to get support from the ceiling.

There was no electricity during that time, so the substitutes that were available were small sputtering tallow wall sconces, or the glow of a fireplace. Thus, chandeliers provided better lightning. They were generally used in medieval churches and abbeys in the 15th century.

Earlier, these chandeliers used to be designed for the use of the wealthy and powerful, as only they could afford them. However, it can be said that the journey of the chandelier started from homes in between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Chandeliers are considered as a symbol of status, wealth, and beauty, and have been widely used in movies to show the status of any wealthy family. It is believed that to build an impressive and complete home structure, these chandeliers are capable to develop a unique and elegant beauty.

Selecting a chandelier can be a little bit difficult. It may create confusion for you to decide on the right chandelier for your entry hall or dining room. These chandeliers come in many different varieties and sizes. Mostly, people go for shiny brass multi-arms with faux candle socket and flame-shaped bulbs.

If you are looking for an adjustable chandelier for your home and you cannot decide on the width of the chandelier, then first of all you should calculate the dimensions of the room. You just need to add the width and length of the room in feet, and then convert this figure to inches. The number you get in inches is the near about diameter of the chandelier that you need to purchase. Some people prefer oversized chandeliers for their room; they can be used design wise, but an undersized chandelier must be avoided except in the case where you are using multiples.

Secondly, the placement of the chandelier is very important, so that it shines properly. In the dining room, the chandelier should be placed exactly over the center of the table. However, the roughly estimated gap between the table and the chandelier must be about 30 inches to avoid accidents.

In order to save wall art from being positioned in the dark, you can use recessed lights. You can also use a dimmer to create a preset level while dining and for special occasions.

You can use two to three low-voltage pendants in the place of a chandelier for light distribution for long and narrow tables.

A proper choice of chandelier can develop a style and enhance the beauty of your room. Always remember that while choosing a chandelier, you must keep in mind the place where it will be installed, and its size.

Be Prepared For Wedding Emergencies

Having a little bag that you can carry (or have someone in the bridal party carry) with you throughout the wedding day can keep you from worrying about things that may happen, and dealing with them when they do.

Medicine

Although everyone is feeling wonderful on the wedding day, it’s amazing what a few nerves can do to the body. Headaches, upset stomachs, and dizziness can all rear their ugly heads right when you are feeling the most pressure.

And that’s not just the couple.

You may want to keep on hand a few things to keep everyone feeling good, or at least keep them upright throughout the ceremony. A chewable or liquid antacid is a great way to calm any nervous stomachs. Crackers and ginger ale are good though too. For headaches, you can keep some acetaminophen on hand. This is usually gentler on the stomach than ibuprofen, and can be taken without food.

If the bride or bridesmaids should feel dizzy, then have them immediately sit down. Dizziness can be caused by a lot of things–low blood sugar, nerves, and more serious conditions. If the bride or groom should faint, smelling salts can help to revive them.

Bandaids are good too for sore feet in too tight of shoes.

Beauty fixes

For the women, you may want to have a few beauty tools to keep everyone looking their best. Spare lip gloss and balm are good to keep the lips looking good. A translucent face powder will keep the nose and forehead from shining. Always keep a small bottle of clear nail polish as well. This is good for fixing rhinestones that have fallen off dresses to sealing tears in stockings.

A small brush and mirror can also help, while hair spray and extra deodorant are also nice to have on hand. Bobby pins can help most hair crises, but a curling iron can be an asset too.

Miscellaneous

It’s amazing what you may need and never think of. For example, did you think to bring extra straight pins for the corsages or in case the bouquets fell apart? A small sewing kit is good to in order to fix up any small emergencies.

Stain remover and chalk are also good to have on hand. If there should be any stains that need removing, the stain remover is there. If there’s something on the bride’s dress, then you can lightly cover it with the chalk–it works great and won’t hurt the dress.

The Art of Snow Removal

First and foremost snow removal begins with good equipment. This means having the right type of boots, gloves and shovels. Often people that have been shoveling for a short amount of time will start to get blisters. Boots should go right up to your knees and be waterproof with a good grip.

Shovels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are designed specifically for different techniques. Avoid cheap shovels as they will break. Cheap plastics and wood may only be good a few times before they give way. Invest in something that will last a lifetime. Find out which type is good for you. Explore the idea of even getting a ergonomic shovel which is designed to take less stress off your back.

Begin by clearing the walkway or path leading to the door. The idea is that the first line that you shovel across will be the reference line that you always refer back to. This will also keep your feet dry. Pile the snow high across the bank but not in one spot. If you decide to pile the snow in one area you will fatigue quickly from lifting the shovel full of snow to greater heights to reach the top of the pile.

If you come across ice at the bottom of where you are shoveling then use a sharp metal tool such as a spade to break it. If there is a severe buildup then simply shovel over top of it. You can always sprinkle salt to eat away at the ice after you’ve cleared the snow.

There are several patterns that you can do when shoveling snow to effectively remove snow from a surface. If, for instance, you were shoveling snow from a driveway you may wish to try shoveling a line straight down the middle. Then you could remove the snow line by line on one side and the continuing on the other. This will prevent buildup of snow on your shovel as you shovel. If there is a lot of snow you may want to create two lines down the middle of the section thereby creating three sub-sections of snow to be removed.

This will assist in being able to push reasonable amounts of snow into the bank. Another method to avoid spill off from your shovel as you are shoveling to angle your shovel to 45 degrees. Think of the last time you saw a plow going down a road. The idea with the angle is to effectively move the snow forward while prevent spill off. If you we’re shoveling left to right the angle the driveway right to prevent spill off to the left.

When lifting snow make sure to bend your knees. This will take the pressure off your back. You can even kick the base of the shovel before lifting to ensure a full load. Pile many small piles then one large one. When you first start your pile make sure to throw it deep as future additions are likely to fall back down to the area you are trying to keep clean.

Dressing appropriately is also important. Make sure to wear many layers. You will sweat when shoveling snow and be able to peel off layers as necessary. Take frequent breaks and don’t strain yourself. Drink plenty of water. Although something warm such as coffee or tea may be ideal in colder weather it can dehydrate you. Drinking hot chocolate may be a safe alternative.

Clearing sidewalks is a regulation is almost every town. In most towns and cities you are, by law, required to remove snow for public sidewalks. Good citizens often make a point of clearing elderly neighbor’s sidewalks and walkways.

Introduction to the Brow Lift (Forehead Lift) Procedure

There are several established methods for performing an eyebrow (also called a forehead) lift. The oldest method is called a coronal brow lift. This form of a brow lift is done by making a very large incision behind the hairline from one side of the head to the other. The forehead and brow are lifted accordingly and the incision is sutured closed. The most important advantage to this form of a brow lift is the fact that the brow can be raised a significant amount by simply removing more and more skin. However, this form of a brow lift also has several very large disadvantages. The surgery is much more expensive than other forms of a brow lift. Also, there is a very large scar hidden behind the hairline in those with abundant hair. Those who do not have thick hair do not hide the incision well. Also, there can be permanent numbness in the scalp region after this form of surgery, as some of the sensory nerves are cut by the surgical technique.

Other forms of a brow lift or forehead lift are performed without making such a large incision. One such form of a brow lift is an endoscopic brow lift. This is done by making several small incisions behind the hairline and using a small camera inserted through one of the incisions, the forehead is lifted to a higher point. The advantage of this form of a brow lift is that there is no single large incision. However, the incisions still can be visible if the patient does not have a full head of hair. The technique employs various methods of keeping the forehead in a higher position once it has been lifted through the small incisions. One of these methods is a suturing method that holds the brow and forehead up higher. The other employs a device called an Endotine, which is a fixation device made of a dissolvable material that holds the brow and forehead in its higher position for three to six months before dissolving. The forehead and brow form natural attachments over this period of time that keep the brow in the new higher position.

Another method of raising the brows is to do what is called a transblepharoplasty brow lift. This is a method of raising the eyebrows through the upper eyelid incision that is made for a blepharoplasty. Since brow lifts and blepharoplasties are usually performed together, sometimes this means that the brow can be elevated without an additional incision. With this method of a brow lift, the brow and forehead are addressed from the eyelid incisions. They are lifted and raised to a higher position. Just as in the endoscopic forehead lift, the brow and forehead need to be fixated in the new higher position and this can be accomplished either with sutures or with the device called the Endotine. The advantage of this form of a brow lift is that the incisions are minimal. This allows for much faster healing and essentially no visible scars. The disadvantage of this technique is that the eyebrow and forehead may not be able to be elevated as high as with the other forms of a brow lift.

In many patients the tail of the brow will descend to a more significant degree than other portions of the eyebrow. There are many patients in which Dr. Ebroon would advise raising the tail of the brow much more than the central portion of the brow or the portion closest to the nose. Raising the tail is helpful because it can give the effects of a brow lift without giving the surprised look that no patient is interested in. The tail of the brow can be lifted with any of the methods outlined above. Usually, after consulting with the patient, your physician might recommend a transblepharoplasty assisted brow lift, perhaps with a single incision in the temple region, to achieve the desired brow position.

Brow lifts are an important part of eyelid and upper face rejuvenation. A subtle brow lift can add a tremendous amount to the effects of an upper eyelid blepharoplasty. It can enhance the rejuvenating effects of an upper eyelid blepharoplasty and is therefore a very popular procedure.

Some patients prefer to raise the brows non-surgically. This can be done to a small degree with the use of Botox. Botox is a medicine that temporarily relaxes muscles, usually for a period of three months. It is a very popular method to reduce wrinkles between the eyebrows, in the forehead, and in the crow’s feet areas. Botox can also be used in the tail of the brow to raise the tail of the brow minimally. It has this effect because there are muscles near the eyebrows that both raise the tail of the eyebrow (the frontalis muscle) and muscles that depress the tail of the brow or bring the tail of the brow down (the orbicularis muscle). If Botox is skillfully placed into the orbicularis muscle in the area in which it brings the eyebrow down, this muscle will temporarily be weakened and the muscle that raises the tail of the brow will work unopposed and perform a nonsurgical temporary minimal brow lift.

Depending on an individual’s personal anatomy and their personal feelings about surgery, the appropriate method can be employed to enhance the brow position and thereby enhance appearance.

Greening Your Elevators

Elevator technology is essentially the same as it was when Elisha Otis created his safety brake for elevators back in the 1860s. And while major improvements may have been made in the motors used in elevators, the principles remain the same.

There are a number of different areas in which elevators can be made more efficient using the technology readily available today:

  • Braking
  • Gearing
  • Control

Braking

Regenerative braking technology is slowly becoming accepted in many different areas in industry. It is ubiquitous in electric cars, as well as hybrids. Using normal braking technology, the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle is converted to heat by the application of brake pads to a wheel. All of the kinetic energy is lost.

Regenerative brakes recoup some of the kinetic energy by using it to turn a small generator, also known as a dynamo. The electricity produced by the brakes is stored in a battery and is available for the vehicle’s use. With time regenerative braking technology is creating brakes that recoup more of the energy lost by the stopping of the vehicle.

Elevators are prime examples of vehicles where regenerative braking technology can produce excellent results. This is because the elevator’s counterweights ensure that no more than 55% of the elevator’s capacity must be moved or stopped by an input of energy. As a result, momentum can be built up at a relatively low energy cost. By recouping some of this energy in batteries, elevator efficiency is greatly increased.

Retrofitting elevators with regenerative braking technology is relatively simple, because almost all elevators use motors driven by DC power providing smoother acceleration. The input of DC power from a battery becomes almost trivial. Only the braking mechanism requires replacement.

Gearing

The use of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) allows a motor’s transmission to use a gear ratio that provides maximum efficiency. A CVT enables moving between gear ratios steplessly, providing for smooth acceleration.

CVTs are used in a variety of applications from tractors and snowmobiles to drill presses and milling machines. Many cars, including racing cars, use CVT, as do systems for generating electrical power in aircraft.

The use of CVT in elevators can improve efficiency by using the gear ratio most appropriate to the weight differential between the current weight of the elevator and the weight of the counterweight.

Control

Elevator control systems are probably the only part of the elevator that has seen major improvements over the last century. It was not that long ago that every elevator had an operator who controlled the elevator, starting and stopping the elevator manually, based on the requests of those riding the elevator and signals from those waiting for the elevator.

This system was replaced by a set of buttons inside the elevator, with a single button for each floor, and two buttons used for calling the elevator – an up button and a down button. This method enables the elevator to determine whether or not the direction in which the elevator is travelling is relevant to the person waiting to board.

With the advent of very tall buildings, elevators were assigned specific ranges of floors on which to operate. This allows an express elevator to ‘jump’ 50 floors or more before making frequent stops. This too improved efficiency.

However, drawbacks remain. If, for example, a person on the 23rd floor of a building is waiting for an elevator to take him to the 40th floor, he has no way of making this known to the elevator other that by pushing the up button. The next ascending elevator will stop regardless of the number of stops it must make between the 23rd and 40th floors.

An efficient control system will enable the person waiting for an elevator to signal his destination before the elevator arrives at his floor. A computerized system determines the most efficient car for him to board. In our example, the first car to pass the 23rd floor may be stopping 6 times between the 23rd and 40th floors. However, a car that will arrive only a few seconds later has a passenger who wants to alight from the elevator on the 23rd floor anyway, and will only make 2 stops before it reaches the 40th floor. By causing the potential rider to wait a few seconds before boarding an elevator, not only can a significant amount of energy be saved, but the rider will actually reach his destination faster than he would have if he had boarded the first elevator ascending past the 23rd floor.

Replacement of the control system should not be a major construction project, and may actually result in the best improvement of elevator efficiency.

Conclusion

Current technology can make elevators considerably more efficient than they currently are, resulting in significant savings for owners and operators of tall buildings.

Power Vibe CF1250 Vibration Plate Review

If you are looking for a piece of home fitness equipment to get your whole body in shape then it is possible you are considering buying a vibration plate. Vibration plate training has been a real revelation in recent years and has helped countless people to lose both weight and inches whilst really defining the body. If you have never used a vibration plate before then it can be really hard to even understand what to look for in the machine. What do you need to consider before committing to that purchase?

My early experience of vibration plate training came as a result of my gym membership and when I left the gym I decided that I still wanted to continue with vibration training as a way of reaching my weight loss goals. Having a basic understanding of the product led me to focus on several things before making my purchase:

Size of the plate (platform)

Size of the motor (varied speeds are highly recommended)

Arm handles (needed to aid balance)

Price (always important)

With these four factors in mind I opted for the Power Vibe CF1250. The price was affordable at under £300 and I loved the 8 pre-set programmes allowing me to get started with the workouts straight away. I find that with these programmes I am not standing aimlessly wondering what it happening; each programme challenges a certain part of the body.

A vibration plate is unlike other more typical pieces of home gym equipment. With an exercise bike or a rowing machine for example the workout routine is straightforward – you either pedal or row. A vibration plate is slightly different because you need to perform exercise routines whilst standing on it. Imagine doing yoga stretches or an aerobic routine whilst standing on the vibrating platform and you will get the point. You therefore need to use your initiative somewhat or you will not really get anything out of your workout. The CF1250 is great for the beginner because it is supplied with a DVD which gives you an introduction to the product and shows you a number of exercises to do as part of your routine. This was a huge help and it meant I didn’t waste valuable time trying to figure out how to use the plate correctly.

Another great benefit of the Power Vibe CF1250 was the fact that it was supplied with power cords (elasticated straps with handles so you can work out your arms during the routine) and a gym ball. You can incorporate the gym ball into your workout routine (you will need to see the DVD for instructions on how to do it) and it gives an added dimension to the workout. Very few other vibration plates seem to come with free accessories like this and these “freebies” are probably what convinced me that the Power Vive CF1250 was right for me.

Overall, this is a great vibration plate and costs a fraction of some of the other models on the market. I enjoy the routines and can see the benefit. A great product!

The Wood Stove Route to Home Improvement

If you’re interested in home improvement, alternative heating methods, or fuel efficiency, you’ve probably heard about the new performance standards and styles of modern wood stoves. Maybe you’ve started to take a look at the market. Or perhaps you already own a stove, and you’re eyeballing your current or future residence, wondering, “How can I make this place a better fit for a wood stove?”

The good news is that virtually all houses can become well-suited for stoves, because contemporary models come in a variety wide enough to fit a wide spectrum of livings spaces. (For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming that you’re not living in a cardboard box.) However, there are definitely some things you can do to make your home a better fit for a wood stove. Here are three basic tips.

First, optimize your home for use with a stove. If you own a stove or are looking to buy, fuel efficiency is probably part of your rationale. So it makes perfect sense to ensure that you get the most bang for your heating buck. Practically, this means tightening up any drafty or leaky parts of your house. Check to make sure your home’s insulation is holding up well and take a look at the seals on your storm windows–notorious culprits where heat loss is concerned.

You might have to get your hands dirty as you reseal old caulk lines and make sure that weather stripping is securely attached. But when your stove is blazing away, and not a single spark of heat is wasted, you’ll feel the glow of smart ownership. The tighter your house is, the better an investment your stove becomes.

Second, pick a stove that fits in your house. Contemporary wood stoves have a lot to offer where style is concerned, but honestly, comparing colors, lines, and textures is kind of the icing on the cake. Before you start enjoying that part of the process, you need to answer the biggest question where stove ownership is concerned: “What size is right for my home?”

When you go to MacDonald’s you can “Supersize it” without any dramatically awful effects. But buying an over-sized stove for your residence can cause some real issues. Keep in mind that modern stoves are very well designed, and you don’t necessarily need a huge stove to heat a large space.

If you buy too big, you’ll end up feeling scorched–and it’s more common to err on the side of “large” where stoves are concerned. But if you buy too small, you’ll be forced to huddle close to your stove to soak in the heat. The upshot of this: Right-sized stoves will heat your space well no matter the climate outside. So as you shop, take your home type and square footage into account. Then choose a large, medium, or small stove accordingly. The rest is gravy.

Third, let your stove handle your bank account. Obviously, I’m being slightly tongue in cheek here, but only slightly. As you get close to buying a wood stove, you need to be aware that stoves are an excellent investment. Typically, a stove will pay for itself within two seasons of use. After that, you’ll save money hand over fist. Knowing this, you may want to put out some extra cash up front to buy the most fuel-efficient model you can afford. That way, a few years later, you’ll have more than recouped your investment, and you’ll own a stove that will continue to perform well for decades to come.

Taking Care of an Aga Cooker

The Aga  cooker  is the most durable oven on the market due to its cast iron casing and multiple layers of enamel protecting the surfaces. The Aga is such a solid construction that you’re only ever likely to own one in your lifetime (it’s highly likely that it will outlive you!). However, like most things in life, an Aga oven requires a little bit of tender loving care to keep it functioning and looking its absolute best. In this article we’ll explain what you should do to look after your Aga.

Aga maintenance

The maintenance required for an Aga is not as difficult as you may think and a bit of common sense will keep it operating with few problems. One of the main causes of damage can come from small spillages while cooking. Some Aga models work as heat storage units which means they are always on. This provides a great way to slow cook food and keep the flavours in but any spillages that haven’t been wiped away immediately dry and stain the surfaces very quickly.

Always clean up any mess before this can happen and ensure you use Aga approved cleaning products or you could damage the appearance of your oven. Be careful when cleaning the hotplates though as you could scold yourself. Any substance that spills onto the hotplate will eventually carbonise so you can simply brush it away.

As with the home, an Aga range  cooker  can get a bit grimy over time with grease, fat and other substances accumulating in the nooks and crannies. Make sure you give your Aga a bit of spring clean every so often but don’t tackle it all at once as it will soon become tiresome and you won’t do the best job possible. Take on a specific area each day until you’ve got it gleaming again.

Aga servicing

When it comes to servicing, think of your Aga as you would your car and have a regular service booked in. Most people choose to service their Aga  cooker  every couple of years but a yearly service is prudent. An Aga stove that burns oil definitely needs regular servicing due to the way pipes feed oil into the burners. Small carbon deposits can build up inside causing a drop in performance and efficiency and the potential for total malfunction.

A gas burning Aga should have a yearly service while a solid fuel burner converted oven will need a good sweep down every six months with the main chimney swept out annually. Whatever type of energy source you use to power your Aga, a regular service will keep your oven and stove running smoothly and reduce the likelihood of an expensive repair bill should something go wrong.

An Aga is for life…

With these simple maintenance tips, proper cleaning plus regular servicing you’ll be able to keep your Aga running smoothing and enjoy worry-free cooking for life. Speak to an Aga dealer to ensure you get the right products and servicing plan.

Why Use Solar Panels?

Solar panels are the new catchphrases that refer to the greener alternate energy source namely the solar power. It is the result of scientific advancements and the hope for the future. As a consumer it is in your interest to know a lot more about these panels. It is interesting to study the details on how they are made and installed to generate power.

By browsing the net you can find enough information about the solar panel and solar power. Solar panels are photovoltaic cells that use sunlight to provide us with free, renewable and clean energy.

  • Typically, these panels are made of crystalline silicon (which is a semi-conductor used in the field of electronics) and the exclusive and expensive gallium arsenide (used for making photovoltaic cells).
  • The efficient and newly developed panels are made of amorphous silicon alloy fixed on stainless steel plates. They are rolled continuously to create a thin film rolled on A-Si cells. These are durable and more proficient than their predecessor.
  • Solar panels are required for space projects and space probes as they rely heavily on solar energy. For this purpose very efficient and highly effective solar cells are made from a material called gallium arsenide through a process called beam molecular epitaxy. The solar cells in this process are designed for maximum absorbing power and have numerous p-n junctions for this purpose. These panels are highly capable and the materials involved in making them make them very expensive. So it is not feasible to use them for daily average applications.
  • The newest technology in this field is the arrival of panels which work on a quantum level and symbolizes a breathtaking novel technology. Quantum dots or carbon nanotubes are implanted in treated plastic to create the new model solar panel. This technology is still under research and it may take some time to reach the average consumer.

Solar panels made with plastic sheets could possibly be a break through invention once it is operationally successful. The operational efficiency of these panels is 11% as compared to their silicon counterparts. This hurdle to increase the efficiency has to be crossed before the plastic panels can be used for various purposes.

While investing in a solar panel, it is advisable checking your energy needs and installs them accordingly. Other factors such as the quality of material used and the place where it has to be fixed must be considered to increase the output of these panels. It is highly recommended to look beyond the outward attractions of the solar panels and focus on the watts/dollars ratio.

Barbeque Like a Pro: Plank Grilled Fish

Cedar plank grilled fish- add it to your list of backyard barbecueing recipres to try, for incredible flavor and texture.

Grilling on a wooden plank is fantastic because it allows a good stable surface to hold delicate foods like fish on at the same time giving you that backyard smoked flavor you love.

You’ll need a fresh piece of wood about an inch thick, one that hasn’t been treated chemically. The fish you’re going to grill on it should fit totally on the plank- make sure the plank is long and wide enough. Cedar is the most best wood, being packed of smoky flavors, but there are other good ones to try- maple, and alder are used too. You can purchase grill-ready wood planks online or your localgourmet food shop.

Since this is an untreated wood plank, you MUST soak it well before using it, othrwise it will catch on fire and ruin your fish, if not your whole meal. Soak the plank in water for at least an hour and you will get it saturated to the point of safe usage. If the board does actually catch fire while you are grilling, which happens, spray it with enough water to put out the fire. Try to keep a water spray bottle nearby. Soaking the plank prior to use will also help keep your fish moist and tender.

You will no doubt see the plank smoking and smoldering. Don’t panic. That just means the wood is imparting it’s hint of flavor to the fish.

If you lightly brush the top of the plank with a little cooking oil, it will keep the fish from sticking to it. It’s not necessary to flip the fish over in order to cook the other side since it’s an indirect heat. Grilling fish on a plank will take about 50% more time than normal because of that indirect cooking, so plan ahead. Baste the fish during the cooking time with a little lemon juice or butter.

Once the fish is done, use oven mitts and remove the plank from the grill. Sset it down somewhere safe. A cookie sheet or fireproof serving platter is a good place to let it cool. Serve the fish off the planks onto plates with a spatula and watch the smiles on everybody’s faces.

Grilling fish on a plank is the perfect way to get flavorful fish. Once you try it, you’ll want it again and again.

Effective Business Plan Writing Guide

A business plan is meant to attract investments for starting a new business venture or expanding an existing one. It is common that 9 out of 10 business plans are rejected because VC’s or Angels find them unattractive or unviable. So what does it take to create a business plan that can deliver result. Here are some points

a. Speak with people who have ‘been there and done it’. It gives you a new perspective to your way of looking at a business venture. Professors at entrepreneurship cells and Venture Capitalists can also share great ideas to get you going.

b. Another important factor before you proceed is to understand whether the business idea is viable. You may travel a distance and create a great business plan only to realize that there is a flaw in the idea itself. Fine-tune your idea and business model before you proceed with jotting it down.

c. If you are sure of writing a great plan yourself then get it done yourself. However if words like marketing, finance or strategy does not ring a bell it is better to hire a great business plan writer. However you need to jot all your objectives clearly and share it with the professional who is writing it for you.

d.The key sections of the plan should be Executive Summary, Market Potential, Marketing Strategies, Competition & Financials.

e. Venture Capitalists and Angels are interested in numbers. They want to see how the business will progress over a course of 3 years (ideally the timeframe when they want to exit). You have to do your homework to defend the numbers that you have put in the plan. If it is an established business you can extrapolate your current revenues. However if it is a new venture you need to back-up with a good analysis and market research.

f. If you are not sure about financial projections & break-even analysis then get help from a business plan expert. They will help you to create the financials as per your business model.

g. Do not forget about the ‘look and feel’ factor of the Business Plan. Every venture capitalist would like to see a plan that is well designed looks great.

After a couple of presentations, if there is a need to rework on the plan change it accordingly. Someone may want to see a few sections done differently. In my discussions with Venture Capitalists I have found that they always want to see a ‘Proof of Concept’ along with the business plan. So if you can show them a working prototype in case of a software or some concrete indications of your business that helps. This is also the reason why running businesses get funded easily. So move ahead with confidence and create your business plan. There will be failures but as they say ‘failures are the stepping stones to success’. Wishing you the very best. Cheers.

Aluminum Handrailing: Customized Landscaping

Your home is the perfect place to showcase your personality and style. You can choose to be contemporary, modern, antique or basically anything you can conceive. Your home and landscaping is a blank canvas for you to create. When purchasing a home you visualize the surroundings and how it will become your own. A house doesn’t belong to you until you have added those personalized touches. The interior starts to piece together first and then most homeowners will move on to the landscaping. Landscaping is the one area that literally keeps on growing. Your yard is a master piece of color and pieces that become one. When you begin your landscaping process you start with the major components like aluminum fencing and move on to the smaller details as you go.

When deciding on decking and fencing you have many material options to choose from. I particularly like aluminum  handrails  and aluminum fencing. Mixing elements is always a very unique look. Especially when redoing a deck. A really modern look that is now present in decking is glass. Glass paired with a stylish aluminum  handrail  will add modernism to any deck. Something that is particularly universal is taking a wooden deck and placing aluminum  handrails  for added pizazz. This is a very stylish look that is appealing to the masses.

Another thing is the practice of mixing mediums on the steps. People are starting to use concrete, stone, brick and metal to enhance the actual steps. Aluminum  handrails  mix well with all mediums. They can be designed in any fashion you choose so that if whatever direction your personal style flows the  handrail  can mix right in.

When talking about fencing there are many different options. My mind always goes right to aluminum fencing because it is so universal. Custom aluminum fencing is inexpensive as far as fencing is considered and is incredibly minimalistic to care for. Another nice thing is that it can be customized to whatever degree of privacy you desire. I know many people use aluminum pool fencing to provide a safe environment for their backyard. It is also beneficial as a barrier to protect children from leaving the yard and running into the street. Fencing of any kind is important to prevent unwanted guests from wandering into your personal sanctuary.

Aluminum fencing is the perfect medium to allow for backyard customization. It allows homeowners to construct the exact environment they desire without spending an exurbanite amount of money. When beginning the landscaping in your backyard consider the major landscaping material aluminum fencing first and then fill in the extras as you go.

Building Stairs

Ideally a stairway should be enough to allow two persons to pass each other, a minimum of 36″ wide, 34″ high.

The newel is the main post where the stairs begin and end also where the landing junctions occur.

The   balusters , also called spindles, connect the tread to the handrail. Make sure that the distance between each  baluster  is no more than 4″ maximum. More than 4″ is against code and could allow a child’s head to get caught.

The handrail is the rail that is paralleled to the slope of the stringer from newel post to newel post.

The landing is the platform between straight runs of steps in an L-shaped or U-shaped stairway.

Some information about building stairs.

The riser is the distance from the top of the step to the next step, usually anywhere from 6″ to 8″ high.( 8 1/4″ maximum).

The tread is the step itself that you step on, usually 9″ to 12″ wide.

When you add the riser and the tread together it should be between 17″ to 21″ with 18″ to 19″ being your average.

The stringer is the carriage that supports the treads and the risers, usually a 2″ x 12″ or 2″ x 10″ cut to fit the steps.

How to figure the steps: Measure the distance from the floor or ground to the top of your landing, top of deck or the next floor.

Example: If the distance from the ground to the top of the deck is 45″ high, you divide by 7″ or 8″ to find how high each step will be.

In this case we find that 71/2″ will be the height of each step, which mean that you will have 6 risers and 5 treads.

To cut your stringer, take your square and place it on the edge of your stringer to read 71/2″ on one side and 11″ on the other side of the square; (11″ for using a 2″ x 12″ or 2- 5/4 x 6″ deck boards). Draw 5 steps with 6 risers. Cut off the thickness off your bottom riser 1″ or 1 1/2″ to allow a 7 1/2″ total. You are now ready to assemble your stairs. Also allow 1″ – 1 1/4″ of tread to extend beyond risers as nosing for treads. You may want to practice on an old board if you are not sure. Or you can buy the pre-made stringers at the lumber yard, but you don’t have the option to choose the height of your risers.

A deck that is 32″ or less does not necessarily need railings by code. (check with your local authority)