Building SIPsmart: HVAC and Serious Windows

Reader Contribution by Michael Morley
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Michael Morley is posting regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). This is an update from April 29, 2010. You can find previous posts here.

We have been completing the interior framing and bringing our subs through the job in the last couple of weeks. Our HVAC pro Paul Oehlert, of Oehlert Heating and Air, installed the 24,000 BTU (2 ton) 16 SEER air source heat pump and the supply and return ducting to the system.

The 12-inch floor trusses allowed good distribution of the ducting, but there is not enough room to cross ducting or even plumbing pipes. We have some dropped ceilings in the master and master bath, but they really add to the space with different ceiling heights.

Paul will also provide venting for the Whisper Green Panasonic programmable bath fans. These will be set to provide continuous ventilation at a preset CFM (cubic feet per minute) based on volume, and then kick up to 130 CFM when the switch is thrown. They have super quiet ECM motors that draw very little power. It’s a great solution for an affordable home. More detail on that later.

The crew installed the Serious 501 series windows in the dome portion over the last few days, and I am happy with them. They are a sturdy all-vinyl construction, but I was not excited about the loose plastic nailing flanges to install them. With a little practice and a block of wood to set the flanges we could prep a window in just a few minutes. They do set stainless screws and covers to install solidly through the jambs into the framing. The performance rating is very high with a U-value of .18 and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of .24.

More details later on some of these advanced technologies, and we almost have the time-lapse video ready for you to watch. Jackson Morley put together a very smooth movie that takes you through the shell process in 2 minutes and 24 seconds. It will be posted very soon.