Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The 21st Century Hybrid Solar Log Cabin

Hybrid Solar House > Science > How It Works

Came across a link to this North Carolina builder in a recent interview with Steve Wozniac on ECNMag.com that's worth checking out.

Apparently he was a judge for the History Channel's Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge (dang, that's a mouthful). The winner, a home built by Enertia combines passive solar energy, with the heat retention and release properties of solid wood construction as well as designing the entire house to be a heatpump. The result is a kit-house that is energy efficient to manufacture, assemble, and inhabit. They're easy on the eyes, too.
Just how does a house, or office, or any ground-based structure get turned into a natural energy machine? The secret is an air path, or "Envelope" just inside the structure's solid wood skin. It is a heat path on a sunny Winter day, a continuously recharging convection loop. A heat source, and extra insulation for a cold Winter night. A miniature biosphere, oxygenated by Sunspace plants. A fresh air-to-air exchanger with walls that breathe. A buffer zone to noise, wind, and outside pollution.
It is a ventilation path on the hot Summer day and on the cooler Summer night, when it is open to the atmosphere. It is the dehumidification system when its permeable outer wall is hit by the sun. And always, an access channel to otherwise unreachable parts of the house when it comes time to update, add new wires, cables, pipes, or technology.
The Enertia® House works because the walls have the ability to gain, hold, and release heat. They do double-duty as structure and storage. Their thermal mass and thermal lag leads to "Floating," where stored daytime energy cancels out night-time need. Floating can last for days, keeping the house comfortable during periods of little or no sun. Massive houses experience seasonal "Float" as well, and can coast a month or longer when lightweight houses need artificial heating or cooling. Enertia® Houses float right through heat waves and arctic blasts that would endanger occupants of other buildings.
This page on their site shows some detailed shots of constuction, and more information on the nature of their kits. Basically the pieces are notched laminated timbers of Southern Yellow Pine, a highly renewable resource. It's a pretty cool idea, with environmental advantages from several angles.


Vespa Motorcycles said...

This is the future.

Anonymous said...

I think this home could be successful most of the year in Arkansas. Wish there were examples of indoor temp during extreme cold and heat. Even if you had to run an AC a couple weeks out of the year that is a huge improvement.... I'll take one please.