Dream house with Dream setup.

mcdougy Posted By mcdougy, Apr 14, 2017 at 12:29 AM

  1. mcdougy

    mcdougy
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    Apr 15, 2014
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    If you could build from scratch, what would you build? And what sort of wood heat system would you put in?
     
  2. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    I expect wood heat wouldn't be a substantial part of the design. Ideally a near net zero home most likely designed and built to the Pretty Good House principles (near net zero). I would put solar panels on the roof and provide supplement heat with a minisplit as well as heat to the makeup air for the fresh air ventilation system. A small high mass masonry stove might be integrated into the design so it could be used as a thermal mass for the house.

    The biggest heating source for a near net zero house is actually the heat required to temper outdoor air brought in via the fresh air ventilation system. There have been a few cases where this input is conveniently ignored when a buildings low energy use is touted.
     
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  3. maple1

    maple1
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    I would build so it wouldn't need much heat to start with. And wood heat might not be part of the picture. Maybe a good wood stove to supplement, mini-splits for main heat. Looking at current tech, which is always evolving/improving.
     
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  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    This is the question. This time of year you will also see people thinking less optimistically about wood.

    Anyway. I would keep my smallish home size, under 2000 SF is plenty for our family of four. Heating with actual wood I can not think of a better way to heat than with a 24 hour minimum burn cycle cat stove of any reputable brand (there's just two right now). It just keeps the house warm all the time and is very comfortable with an especially warm hearth area that people and animals love to gather around. I actually prefer the 5 degree cooler bedrooms, it's a feature.

    In addition to wood heat I love to have a maintenance free backup heat source. I have electric wall heaters now which really are cheap to buy, zoned, zero maintenance, and reliable for backup. It's not a bad backup system if you are a real wood heater.

    As I get too old to "do" wood heat the woodstove can be replaced by a gas stove or even a pellet stove if the price of gas became outrageous. Remember, if a woodstove can do the job then a gas stove in the same place can do it without power, noise, or really any effort and with surpisingly good efficiency since there are no duct losses.

    Keep the house smallish and reasonably well built. Avoid a wood heater that requires several reloads per day.

    I think minisplits look really bad and cheap hanging on a wall in the house but the good news is that the traditional split system heat pumps are catching up with efficiency so you can use regular looking HVAC if you want highly efficienct heating and cooling with forced air. I would like to install ductwork and and a good heat pump system someday just for resale, air filtration, and to learn how to work with ducts.
     
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  5. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    FYI There are a couple of less ugly options for mini splits, they have a ceiling mounted cassette version (which is really only good for new construction) as well as a "picture frame" and also a duct unit. Tom in Maine on this site also has his hydronic versions that are a lot more flexible. I will probably go with that design in the future.
     
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  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    With extreme hits to efficiency and still quite ugly. Of course, in my opinion. I have a BK which many find ugly too! The ceiling cassette looks like an RV air conditioner. and the picture frame unit like a medicine cabinet.

    The ducted minisplits also have poor efficiencies and then you have to realize you've just bought a miniature version of the traditional split system. These days the difference in efficiency and cold weather operation between MSHP and traditional split is not that great. About time too! No excuse for such poor performance as the old heat pumps made. Just like there is no excuse for water heating heat pumps to not be at every home, I am watching Tom's product closely.
     
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  7. iron

    iron
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    not to hijack: but, can you elaborate on the difference between MSHP and traditional HP?
     
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  8. begreen

    begreen
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    This field continues to grow and get refined. Daikin and Mitsubishi now have complementary vertical air handlers that mate with conventional ducted systems. The ducted units do not necessarily have poor efficiencies. The efficiency is still very good and in some cases just a bit less than the true mini-splits but still quite respectable. The main losses come from the ductwork. A ducted system is inherently less efficient due to these losses. The amount of loss will depend on duct sealing, run length, ambient temp and insulation.
     
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  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    Gosh, fine, the ducted units have poorer efficiencies than the wall units is of course what I meant. The efficiency of most all heat pumps is still better than resistance electric. When ducted minisplits are compared to the wall mounted type there are significant efficiency penalties that make the whole system questionable. Might as well just use a modern split system with a central handler and spend extra time on proper ductwork. These days we have to have pressure tests and higher insulation standards than in the past on ductwork installs plus if you can install ductwork inside the heated space then leaks aren't so bad.
     
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  10. jotul8e2

    jotul8e2
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    One needs more parameters: budget, size, climate, personal preferences.

    I can outline what I DID do. I built a story and a half over a full basement - about 2500 sq. ft. plus the garage and basement. Used near-super insulated techniques even here in our mild southwest Missouri climate. While I do not absolutely rely on a wood stove, it is my primary source of heat. To accommodate it I mixed elements of conventional and open floor plans - wide, short halls, high and wide doorways everywhere, stove in a central location, return paths for air to circulate.

    If money had been no object I'd have built around a masonry stove.

    Were I to go to a colder climate I'd have even more insulation plus exterior insulated shutters for the doors and airlock entries at all door. If I had enough wood available I would consider a ducted wood furnace. Maybe.

    Lack of insulation, glazing and vaulted ceilings are the biggest enemies to comfort when using space heaters like a wood stove.
     
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  11. begreen

    begreen
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    Mitsubishi and Daikin now make conventional split systems too, thus the vertical air handler, but with their superior compressor technology. So far they are able to produce meaningful heat at much lower temps than current American technology.
     
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  12. mcdougy

    mcdougy
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    Well it's your dream, location and budget to match. Here in southern ontario Canada, im curious as to what near super insulated walls are? All the talk of mini splits and heat pumps is unheard of here for residential. 95% of homes are forced air. Common to heat the slab if it fits budget nowadays. 99% of homes have a full basement. Our minimum code homes are getting fairly efficient and code continues to raise the bar. Next code change is 2018.
     
  13. mcdougy

    mcdougy
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    Current minimum code is/will creating a dew point issue in walls with the requirement of minimum continuous insulation(styrofoam) on the exterior of walks. The minimum (which every suburbia house will meet) is not thick enough, the requirement for interior vapour barrier and general lack of quality installation of air barriers will be the cause. Can you say R 2000 disaster? If buying a new home do some research on exterior foam thickness and dew points inside the exterior envelope.
     
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  14. jotul8e2

    jotul8e2
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    This is as good a definition as any: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superinsulation . But for Ontario I would think this would be more near the minimum.
     
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  15. RFarm

    RFarm
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    Interesting thread. I self built my dream house in 2012. Its a 2100 sqft 3br 2.5 bath Cape Cod. The home is post and beam construction with straw bale infill. Walls and metal roof are factored at R65. The home is powered by a 4.5 kwh PV standalone system. Water is provided by the local utility, but it is heated using a solar evacuated tube water heater. I have a 100lb propane cylinder that powers the cook stove. All heat is provided by passive solar heating and a Sedore wood stove, Interior and exterior walls are coated with 6 inches of adobe plaster. This home utilizes both thermal mass and super insulation to maintain a very comfortable interior without the use of mechanized heating or air conditioning. I built it for $55 a sqft (cash) on property I already owned. I cut and split a 1/2 a cord of GoFer wood last winter and still had a couple weeks worth left at the end of the season. I shoulder burn throughout the winter as the house never gets cool enough to justify a 24/7 burn.
    For me the goal was to become more self sufficient and financially secure. Though I have little money, I have a home, plenty of home grown food, property, and a very active healthy lifestyle. For some the goals may be different, but wood heat was one of the central features of my design since I was building on 8 acres of woodland. When I look at all the trees I just see security and wealth, to not use them for warmth in favor of something mechanized seemed foolish. Living the dream!
     
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  16. Lloyd the redneck

    Lloyd the redneck
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    Dec 6, 2016
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    Dream house, 800-1000 sq. slab on grade with floor heat. Zoned for ultimate comfort. Outdoor boiler not far from the house in a semi protected. Maybe even lightly heated breezeway. A shed full of wood for a couple years worth right next to the boiler. I'm not too crazy on this super tight house idea. Seems to me the air quality sucks in tight houses. Just do 2x6 walls with Sheetrock and a thick stucco exterior. Something that would stop most bullets. Have a poured concrete storm dome in the mechanical room. Oh and a 10000 sq shop. Because that's where I spend most of my time anyways!
     

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