Sept 2011 Pre-script: Why is this still the most frequently read item on my whole blog? Is it coming up on Google searches for the company name or something? Its a year old now, surely, not worth a mention?
If you are from the Navitron company, GO AWAY!
Dec 2011 note: Why do I have a special antagonism for Navitron? Because for all of the last year, they took the trouble to detect the IP number I used from home or work, and had a custom page that would be displayed to me gloating that they were stopping me from logging on or even viewing the forum, with a completely spurious excuse that I had not bought heat pumps from them.
6 October 2010: I have had an entertaining time on the Navitron forum. I started a thread by mentioning the alloy mirrors, but there are many other areas of interest, such as FITs, PV, CHP, interseasonal storage, evacuated tubes, high rise buildings, wind turbines etc.It was alarming at first, a bit like walking into a bar in Tennesee or Montana with a gaypride teeshirt. Heads turn, who's the newbie? To the newby, it seems cliquey, with contributors who have attained immense 'seniority' through hundreds of postings, who really appear to resent a newby coming in especially if many of his ideas are already formed. If I had started a year ago as a totally nervous newby, I am sure that there would have been supportive ideas, and by now there would have been hundreds of postings as the project grew.
Before the development of full blogging sites, a forum like this was the best place to report the progressive advancement of a research project. Gradually, people become more friendly and genuine, and the discussions can be very very informative.
However, there remain moments when one is stunned by comments of utter malice, which seem so unjustified. The people who have been nastiest all claim to be 'moderators' so it seems to be running opposite their role which should be to encourage discussion. The abuse extends to criticising one's family, one's job, one's very existence!
That is what you have to expect, I suppose, the rough with the smooth. I am sure that forums on Vegetarianism or Beekeeping can get just as mean, with fish-eaters, cheese-eaters and vegans slugging it out, or beekeepers insulting each other's queens.
The virtues of the Navitron forum are worth it to endure the initial entry ordeal. Although one's confidence is dented by excoriating or just angry criticism, the ones who have been supportive or who have provided genuinely considered criticism have raised my faith in human nature. Many of the criticisms have led to me improving my website or checking my figures, or explaining things better.
I am not criticising Navitron as a company, and I am certain the products are good - some very innovative combinations of technologies. The forum moderators seem fiercely anti heat pump ('superannuated fridge'), despite Navitron being a supplier of low cost heat pumps. Several of the forum members are 'off-grid' and jolly good for them! People who can live off-grid in strawbale houses in a field in Wales are wonderfully brave, but living in yurts or haystacks isn't a solution for the majority of the urban population. It's research to refine the technology, land requirements and lifestyle adaptation requirement, but it's only part of the answer, not all of it.
February 2011 Postscript: I would advise anybody setting out on a research or sustainable energy project to develop their own website, such as this one. Posting items on a forum is a bit like writing letters to a newspaper, you have great difficulty in piecing the threads together later - especially when what you write is likely to be slagged off or deleted by capricious moderators.
For giving the above advice to a newby on Navitron, I was banned from the forum - proving the truth of what I wrote. I was NOT advising that they avoid using the forum, because it is excellent as an information source. But the project originator need to be able to write up the project where they will not have their confidence damaged by savagely malicious or manically capricious comments irrelevant to the project, as I have suffered - months of being slagged off.
If you have a project to do, I cannot recommend Googleblogger too highly, it is your site, and you have a good historical thread of the progress of the project. Use the Navitron forum too, to share your finding with some of the good folk. But don't be surprised if a year's worth of discussion is suddenly deleted by a moderator who disagrees with you by just deleting everything you have written.
The Navitron forum is not a safe place to make the only place where you record your design process, because it's not really a 'forum', it's a 'court' of some tiny-minded emperor moderators who don't welcome newcomers with projects they don't agree with. And as an architect, I will never specify Navitron products while I am denied access to the forum, and I will leave this highly negative review of the Forum on show until I am welcomed back.