Building SIPsmart: Considering Concrete and Solar Hot Water

| 3/1/2010 3:36:48 PM

Michael Morley will post regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). For an introduction to this project, read Building Smart with SIPS. 

There are several images that accompany this post. The photograph is of the completed building pad marked out for the trench footings. This was one of a series of 150 pictures produced by a Bushnell Trail Cam that can take time lapse pictures on a programmed interval. I set this camera up to take two pictures every eight minutes if there was motion to trigger the camera at the site. This worked great and during construction we will have a record of the installation of all materials. These stills will be assembled into a video, which we hope to share with you readers. The other image is a Sketch-up rendering of what the completed ARCX building will look like

Dome Home Project SiteThe building site at 13th and New Jersey Street has more of a slope across the lot then it appears. We had geotechnical engineer, Dean Grob, monitor our work as we brought in engineer to fill to raise the site to a level pad. Mack Grant brought in his equipment and spread eight truckloads of crushed, recycled concrete as our base material. The topsoil and vegetation that Mack removed was then spread around the perimeter to contain the fill and provide a rough grade for the finished building. I spent several hours laying out and marking the building perimeter for the trench footings that will be going in soon. We'll be using a 16-inch-wide by 36-inch-deep footing with 2 inches of rigid insulation installed before the pour around the exterior of the footings.

It looks like we have a dry week coming up, and we hope to have Burlinggame Concrete Company trench and pour footings this week. After that I will go in with a helper and build the wood forms for the concrete slab.

While we’re waiting for the snow to melt and the concrete to be poured, Rebecca, Jeremi and I have been trying to resolve several issues. The first issue is how to accomplish the colored concrete that we want to use as the finished floor. One option is to have the color integrated into the batch for the slab and pour and finish in the typical manner. This involves an additional charge of about $1,000 and then we would need to protect the floor during construction. The other option, which Tenants to Homeowners has used on various projects, is to pour and finish the concrete in the typical manner and then etch, stain and finish the floor as part of the finishes in the project area. The problem they have had in the past is that the finish, usually an epoxy, is relatively fragile and can be damaged with sharp objects and general wear and tear. What Rebecca and Jeremi have decided to use is a moss green color integrated into the concrete. This will be a durable, attractive finish, and I have no problem with this approach.

Dome Home SketchupThe other issue we are dealing with is the heating, cooling, ventilation and domestic hot water for the building. Originally, I proposed using an 80 gallon hot water tank with a copper coil heat exchanger in the tank. This would be combined with two 4-by-10-foot flat plate solar collectors on the roof. The tank was to have a backup heat source with an electric heat element in the lower part of the tank. We would then take the heated water and pump it through a loop of PEX tubing embedded in the concrete floor. I liked the idea because of the green elements of the solar hot water and the ability of the building to retain heat. I asked various people in the heating and cooling business for their opinions.

5/14/2013 10:01:23 AM

Surely a solar hot water system has come to be more usual in fixed families as property holders try to find more reasonable living alternatives and save cash on unmanageable energy utilization.

With carbon tax set to be presented, flying fuel costs and climbing power expenses, numerous families are searching for any intends to safeguard cash and solar hot water is a clear and helpful move.

Since solar hot water heating has come to be more standard, it has additionally come to be more competitive. The consistent development in engineering has likewise made the frameworks more proficient, setting aside a few minutes to put resources into a more tolerable future. Recall, each family can have an effect!

Richard Dean
3/22/2010 10:19:33 PM

i live in michigan and im moveing upnorth here and i have been looking at things to , winters up north here are a little cold plus snow fall is a factor on solar pannels, so i have been looking at a tankless hot water tank and it looks like a way to go. but you could also try wind turnbine onthouse cloudy days thats what im looking at getting done, to me pex pipeing looks the way to go plus i will be heating my house with a wood burner and it will also heat water in my house to a point to, as for concret thing i would look at holmes on home they had a guy use a stain on cement and made it look like stone work and bricks and it was just concret

3/22/2010 8:06:27 AM

We own a small plumbing company and have installed one of the hybrid water heaters, we agree that is the way to go. When our tank a home dies we are going to install one of these. The average cost for operating a standard 50 gallon electric water heater is about $550.00 per year, the hybrid costs about $234.00 per year to operate. The hybrid has a 10 year warranty and qualifies for the tax credit, standard electric tank has a 6 year warranty. It is best to install the hybrid in a room at least 10' x 10' for proper operation.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters