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    Last edited by montcalm; 01-17-2022, 12:03 AM.

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    • This thread has really taken me a place I wasn't expecting. I went from kind of being curious in current energy trends to being a real exercise in understanding the options available, not only for energy needs, but for building as well.


      I want to summarize some stuff here, because if I'm wrong, I'd like to be corrected about this. But as I understand it, you can't really build a "camp" anymore, as many camps were built in years prior and that I grew up around. These places were basically 3 season shacks with indoor plumbing and grid electric with woodstoves, electric and/or propane heat, were minimally, if at-all insulated, and were usually built on piers - some posts, some on blocks, etc...

      You can build a cabin, which must not have a permanent foundation (piers or posts), has no indoor pressurized plumbing or septic, has no utilities: grid connection, sewer, gas, etc. There doesn't seem to be any regulation that I see on insulation. I'd assume it would have to pass structural code, but I don't actually see that anywhere in writing. I'm also not sure how this applies to the rest of the state as the only document I found pertaining to it was from the APA.

      You can build an unheated structure or minimally heated, but I assume this covers garages and sheds and such. And the heat requirements seem to be very small like you'd use in a shed or something to keep water lines from freezing. I don't think these would qualify as 3-season camps and if they did, you couldn't technically put in even a woodstove as any would violate the heating requirement. The requirement also applies to cooling i.e. a conditioned space. I think it would be hard to enforce space heaters and window AC so I'm guess it's going to be hard to get a building permit for something you could sleep in to fall under either of these.

      The thing it seems you can build, is a house*. A 4 season house that is designed to be very energy efficient. It seems you must have a permanent foundation: crawl space, slab or full basement, and all of those must be insulated per requirements. I see no provision for building on piers or posts. And if you do this, you must insulate the rest of the structure very well. Per these requirements. There are more details in the actual code, but that gives the gist.


      So this brought me back to a question that was posed earlier: Do you want a camp, or house?

      I think if you want the grid and indoor plumbing, you need to build a house whether you use it for a camp or live in it year round. If you're off grid and you want plumbing and septic, seems like you build a house as well.

      There's a big financial gap there between a "cabin" and a residential code-compliant new building.


      *You can also build a log home which has different requirements that I've yet to look into.

      Comment


      • I believe what you can build will be somewhat dependent on the individual who is the building official in the jurisdiction you are building in.

        The NY Residential Code does permit building on piers or posts. The floor just has to be insulated (R30 iirc vs R10 or 2" of foam under a slab on ground) and - dependent on your building official - you may have to have an engineer seal the drawing.

        But no heating appliance and an outhouse - good to go.

        I will say the disappointing thing about NY codes is not allowing gray water systems. You can have no flush toilets - composting, outhouse, electric, other - but still must have a complete engineered septic system for a lone sink with drain.

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        • Originally posted by billconner View Post
          I believe what you can build will be somewhat dependent on the individual who is the building official in the jurisdiction you are building in.
          I get that. I'd assume you'd need to submit drawings for approval before you can acquire a permit.


          Originally posted by billconner View Post
          The NY Residential Code does permit building on piers or posts. The floor just has to be insulated (R30 iirc vs R10 or 2" of foam under a slab on ground) and - dependent on your building official - you may have to have an engineer seal the drawing.
          I see in insulation requirements where they mention R30 for a floor, but I was not clear on what that was for. It does not seem you'd need to insulate the floor if you had an insulated basement or crawl space. Slab is very clear - as you say, R10 is the requirement.

          Do you know where in the code this is? I saw a builder claim that full foundations were needed for new builds so I looked through the foundation code and I did not see this. I admit, I did not read it all.

          Originally posted by billconner View Post
          But no heating appliance and an outhouse - good to go.

          I will say the disappointing thing about NY codes is not allowing gray water systems. You can have no flush toilets - composting, outhouse, electric, other - but still must have a complete engineered septic system for a lone sink with drain.
          So you must insulate the building per code requirements but you cannot have a heating appliance?

          The septic part actually makes sense to me - but if I had to put in a septic system I would want flush toilet(s).

          I think the cabin provision allows for grey water catchment and sink and drain without a septic. But of course you must forgo electric and indoor plumbing.

          I have a headache now... I'm going to go throw some snow.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by montcalm View Post

            I think thermal gain from electric motors will be minimal - lights, non-issue these days. Solar gain will be real, but I'm also not convinced one needs to insulate as much as we had. My guess is that current regulations are sufficient except perhaps walls - maybe up to R30 there would be better. I tend to wonder how much gain there would be going standard R13+10* wall investing extra money into higher efficiency windows - going from a standard U=0.3 to U=0.2. That would be an interesting analysis to look at.

            *2020 Regulation is R13+10 or R20+5 vs R13+5 for 2009 in zone 6.
            Concerning Intrinsic heat gain....Intrinsic gain for devicess such as motors lighting etc. was 10% of my design day requirements with a small 2 room cabin design however 70% of that was incandescent lighting. I still envision it will provide 2-3% of the needed heat.

            The occupants provided 10% of the design day heat requirements but that was a small cabin. An average man produces 360btu/hr for 1 Met. Sleeping is 0.7 Met. Sitting quietly is 1 Met. Standing 1.2 Met. Half court basketball 5.0-7.6 Met (in case your house is really big)

            Concerning cost effictiveness of insulation, I think my model can be useful here if you can price out the cost of different construction. It might not be easy to get cost of double wall vs single wall. Perhaps the easiest to priceout would be switching the outer rigid insulation from 1" to 2" or 0". More than 2" gets tougher to install. One could get a good cost estimate for the square footage and the associated cost and then change the R value in the spreadsheet and see the change in the energy. I would then recommend using the degree day method to determine the season (annual) heating requirements and heating cost or annual savings.

            Going back to a previous conversation, I went down the rabbit hole of basement analysis. In the handbook, they say that if you have a basement temperature of 50 or greater then you consider it heated and do the heat loss calculation through the basement wall. They say if you have the heating plant and water heater in the basement then chances are the temperature will be over 50. There are factors to consider for the thermal resistance of the soil. There is a correction factor that you add to the outside design temperature for the basement heat loss, because the soil is warmer than the air. They correct the outside temp for the whole wall but I chose to adjust it for the part of the wall under the grade and used the design temperature for the basement wall above grade. I put all these into my model. Other factors apply for the basement floor heat loss including width of the house and how deep the basement is in the ground. I started assuming a 12" cement block basement wall with 4" of rigid styrofoam board on the outside.

            Then, they say that you can disregard the heat loss through the house floor to the basement. I thought that was just wrong so I started thinking. If the heat from the house goes thru the floor into the basement and then out the walls and basement floor. One could write the equations for that heat flow and input the related resistances based on the construction used and derive the basement temperature (without any added heat) based on the outside temperature. So I did all that and went back and tweaked the model. I now let the user specify (guess) the basement temperature and the model calculates the heat loss through the floor with that delta T (i.e. 67-50F) and then thru the basement walls with that delta T (50-design temp + soil adjustment factor for part below grade)

            Now the model is a sloppy mess but I tweaked the numbers and it seams to work. The next step would be the change some insulation in the construction and see how the heat loss changes.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by billconner View Post
              I believe what you can build will be somewhat dependent on the individual who is the building official in the jurisdiction you are building in.

              The NY Residential Code does permit building on piers or posts. The floor just has to be insulated (R30 iirc vs R10 or 2" of foam under a slab on ground) and - dependent on your building official - you may have to have an engineer seal the drawing.

              But no heating appliance and an outhouse - good to go.

              I will say the disappointing thing about NY codes is not allowing gray water systems. You can have no flush toilets - composting, outhouse, electric, other - but still must have a complete engineered septic system for a lone sink with drain.
              Excuse my ignorance but whats the common way to get R30 for a floor? Is it 2x8 framing with a layer of rigid board under it or are people upsizing the joist (a manufactured beam) and increasing the fiberglass or other void insulation thickness?

              Comment


              • Some thoughts from being away for a few days and catching up:

                1.) Heat Recovery Ventilator -- this replaces traditional bathroom fans and it balances the outgoing air with incoming air, tempering the incoming air with the heat from the outgoing air. Required in new buildings I believe given how tight they are. It should not be used with the stove hood as the grease/grime will clog them. We have the HRV pulling from 3 bathrooms and the kitchen generally (not stove) set to run for 10 minutes per hour or manually by traditional bathroom switch for 15 minutes. We have a self-cleaning hood that filters (kind-of) and then sends the air back into the kitchen. Thought it was a big deal at first, but having not had an external venting fan in the past two houses, it's not as big of a deal as I thought -- and my wife cooks nearly every day, but rarely things that smoke -- or she is just better than me. Ours is 75% efficient -- meaning 75% of the outgoing air is transferred to the incoming air. Not sure how accurate 75% really is.

                2.) Agreed on all the net zero vs true zero comments -- and how the former is simple and the latter is very difficult. The kW array sizes seem reasonable enough for net zero -- probably a touch low when you add shading and such. I think the off-grid is small by a factor of 2 or 3. For reference, in this semi-cold spell we've been used 578 kWh this past week. Our energy needs (2600 sq ft) are probably 2-3 times that of a smaller more well insulated house in Old Forge area (smaller, but also colder). So call that 250 kWh for sake of discussion. My ~10kw array has produced ~60kwh in the past week. Better roofing tilting would help (we had no snow covering this past week) -- but unless you have the perfect lot, no shading in the ADKs is going to be hard. It's crazy how low the sun is right now -- even two hours before/after high noon -- which is not very high at all.

                3.) Angle of panels. 45 degrees on a 12/12 roof has been mentioned. That is about right. Certainly would not go shallower for off-grid. I would go a bit shallower for net-zero as there is far more sun in summer than winter -- longer days @ higher angle. Regarding sliding, 45 degrees is reasonably self-cleaning. We have a solar kiln for treating firewood with a glass roof. Any snow is cleared very quickly from there and that is without a black background. We use a plastic roof rake to clear our very shallow panels (~18 degrees). I usually just clean the bottom half and the sun takes care of the upper panels. If it's not sunny, they do not clear, but then again they are not producing either.

                For off-grid setups I'd personally look at adding vertical panels on the south side of the house house. That way there is always something coming in even during a snow storm to cover some base loads. They will not produce anything in summer half of year, but then you do not need them then anyways. Unfortunately they'd be ugly. Another alternative is to design a gambrel roof of sorts where the upper pitch is in the 45 degree range and the lower in the 80 degree. It'd look nicer, but really that's all you are gaining. I plan on doing this on our shed with a 12/12 traditional main roof, then instead of eaves drop down at about 80* to create a gambrel roof -- though it's only an allusion to add solar panels without looking ugly.

                4.) BTU calculations seem about right, if not a touch high in the real world which is expected given they are conservative. A real-world benchmark -- we've gone the past cold snaps with our 38k btu unit running constantly outputting about 35k BTU on high, but jumping between first/second/third stages -- third stage kicks domestic hot water on/off to prioritize space heating. We are a bit warmer outside Syracuse, but 2600 sq ft and modestly insulated. At a certain point, it does not really matter as I'd personally do another two stage unit and I do not think they make them smaller than 2-tons (geo).

                5.) Thermal Storage -- I did some math on storage of thermal energy in sand/concrete versus water. While water per pound holds ~5x BTU per degree, the actual volume capacity of both is much closer. Sand/concrete is about 46% of water per cubic foot. So having 5000 gallons of water is the same as about 10k gallons of sand. 5000 gallons is about 800 cubic feet, or roughly a 6" slab of 1200 sq ft concrete. Better yet, if you were to dig down during construction an extra foot or three, you could insulate, then add dirt back, radiant loops, then concrete slab. That's the benefit of the thermal mass at only slight extra cost and no internal space utilized by water tanks. I would definitely do this in a garage as it you could utilize a smaller radiant heat pump using excess energy to heat the slab and then turn off that zone during cold times to coast for a few days.

                6.) A well insulated house does not have internal temperature swings. Having an open concept floor plan and leaving bedroom doors open helps a lot here too. Having a circulation fan (eg furnace fan) run on days where you know there will be issues helps distribute the heat if things get extreme. Having lived in a nearly uninsulated house and well insulated -- it's night and day difference. Air sealing matters too.

                7.) Overheating from windows is a real issue, even on cold days in my well, but not super-insulated house. I would not do a slab on grade personally -- my joints protest. Thermal mass from internal objects in negligible -- anything wood insulates (R1 per inch). Similar with cloth. Tile is the only thing that might qualify -- everything else is a round-off error. That said, we just turn on the HVAC fan manually and circulate the air which includes our colder basement to temper it. Opening windows helps too. One key thing is setting up windows to be perfectly south, with overhangs that eliminate all direct incoming sun from about spring equinox to fall equinox. But keep in mind it's cold in late march and hot in late September, so nothing is perfect.

                Aside: I prefer a basement if at all possible, else I'd do a crawl space. My current house basement is only 3 feet below grade, with ~4 feet of above grade block. Best of both worlds as we have a couple semi-normal windows downstairs while staying above the water table inches below. I've seen a few waterfront homes uses this as well, where they dig down a couple feet, then set the house ~2 feet above grade giving a 4 foot crawl space to put hot water tank and HVAC utilities -- knowing flood marks is important here though.

                8.) Thermal buffer vs thermal storage -- In off grid storage is very important, but many confuse thermal mass as storage, when it's really a buffer. An example of this would be the classic slab on grade in front of windows. That's really just buffering the daytime to the night time. But it's not really helping when the next three days are cloudy. Either the slab cools to 70* and thus is not providing any energy, or the house cools to 65* and it continues to provide energy, but only because the house is now cold -- neither option passes the wife test.

                9.) Probably my biggest take away from this whole tread is spending money where it matters. 2x6@24 vs 2x6@24 +2" exterior insulation vs 2x4@16 double walls vs 2x4 double walls with exterior insulation -- KISS is with the middle ground 2x6@24 + exterior insulation. Paying extra for the complexities and novelties of double studs is not worth the cost (50% more wood, more hammer time, non-traditional practice. Same for roof with standard rafters and fill it full of insulation. Though I'd still probably do attic trusses + insulation exterior insulation for the extra "free" square footage as if you are going to do a 12/12 pitch roof, mine as well get the benefit of extra space too. Similar for basement -- insulate reasonably but not crazy.

                All these things are standard industry practices that any competent contractor has seen before -- and friends/family if self-building. Doors and windows are where things go south -- so design good entryways (eg enter through garage) as primary entryway to create buffers.

                Windows are probably the one thing may reconsider. Having just gone down this path and purchased windows in fall 2020 -- I opted for the double pane windows as triple pane did not compute. I think on-grid with a good heat pump in Syracuse area that still is the correct choice -- the payback is negative and windows need to be replaced every XX years. In ADKs with colder temperatures it begins to swing things in favor of triple pane, though I'm still not sure it matters enough. Off-grid, I think it does make sense as it will help year-round, but more importantly help most during design days, which is where the system is designed to saving extra panels and BTU sizing.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by mooregm View Post
                  Some thoughts from being away for a few days and catching up:
                  All really good points and some great real world data. thanks.

                  One point we havent expored well, IMO is thermal shutters for windows. I've had issues with condensation inside windows then insulating them on the inside, however when I look at the heat loss (in the model) it makes sense if one could use some form of a high R value commercial exterior window shutter. A night shutter of 2" polyiso used 50% of the time on all windows could possibly reduce the total heat loss by 6%. Assuming they exist and they are reasonably priced. I know most of europe had window shutters.

                  Comment


                  • The mechanical engineering nerdism in this thread is awesome. I'm thoroughly enjoying this learning experience. Thanks so much for all the input!

                    I have a TON of comments, but I'm busy and I need to go back re-read as well, but a couple things.

                    The incoming air HEX - definitely a thing. I looked this up as soon as John mentioned it and it's on every "green" building design i.e. anything with high thermal efficiency.


                    I know it's not my goal, but the off-grid factor I'd like to understand more. No way is going to be cost effective, so I don't even know that's its worth exploring, but I think it may be a point of how much storage vs how much power is available - and of course if I were going to deep dive into that I'd need to do a week-by-week and daily analysis in the worth months: December and January. December looks the worst because the ratio of sun to heat required (estimated) is the worst. January even though colder, on average has more sun. But the trick is storage.


                    I didn't do any mass or water calcs yet, but those are interesting.


                    So I don't want to divert the nerdism for an ideal build, but in talking with the silent partner in my personal interest aka my wife, she's not convinced she wants to spend the entire winter in Old Forge when she's 60+. I can get that. I'm 41 now and the cold already feels colder than it used to 10 years ago.

                    Anyway, this creates a diversion for me - what is my goal? Seems like it's now a "camp". And I don't want to dump $200k and a ton of my time and labor into a "house" that I use for a total of two months out of the year in summer, and sporadically throughout the rest of the year. And then pay 4k a year in taxes on a home that's assessed more than my permanent residence. Needless to say, geothermal heat pumps, water heaters and mega-solar is out of the picture for the scope of this.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by mooregm View Post

                      2.) Agreed on all the net zero vs true zero comments -- and how the former is simple and the latter is very difficult. The kW array sizes seem reasonable enough for net zero -- probably a touch low when you add shading and such. I think the off-grid is small by a factor of 2 or 3. For reference, in this semi-cold spell we've been used 578 kWh this past week. Our energy needs (2600 sq ft) are probably 2-3 times that of a smaller more well insulated house in Old Forge area (smaller, but also colder). So call that 250 kWh for sake of discussion. My ~10kw array has produced ~60kwh in the past week. Better roofing tilting would help (we had no snow covering this past week) -- but unless you have the perfect lot, no shading in the ADKs is going to be hard. It's crazy how low the sun is right now -- even two hours before/after high noon -- which is not very high at all.
                      I had calculated an average ~25kWh per day from a 10kW array in Jan for OF. Sounds like that'd be pretty off for that week. Definitely would have to boost output for off-grid based on weekly analysis, which I mentioned in a previous post. I'm not going to go that far as I think it's beyond the scope of pretty much... everybody! It's just too damn hard to generate that power in January no matter how efficient you are.

                      This is not discouraging btw, just goes to show how difficult it is to do off-grid solar. I think there is some ideal balance between solar, propane and wood that will work for off-grid, but I don't know exactly what that ratio is. I think it's the one that gets you by on what you NEED to run on electricity, and thermal energy has to be filled by the other two.


                      Originally posted by mooregm View Post

                      3.) Angle of panels. 45 degrees on a 12/12 roof has been mentioned. That is about right. Certainly would not go shallower for off-grid. I would go a bit shallower for net-zero as there is far more sun in summer than winter -- longer days @ higher angle. Regarding sliding, 45 degrees is reasonably self-cleaning. We have a solar kiln for treating firewood with a glass roof. Any snow is cleared very quickly from there and that is without a black background. We use a plastic roof rake to clear our very shallow panels (~18 degrees). I usually just clean the bottom half and the sun takes care of the upper panels. If it's not sunny, they do not clear, but then again they are not producing either.

                      For off-grid setups I'd personally look at adding vertical panels on the south side of the house house. That way there is always something coming in even during a snow storm to cover some base loads. They will not produce anything in summer half of year, but then you do not need them then anyways. Unfortunately they'd be ugly. Another alternative is to design a gambrel roof of sorts where the upper pitch is in the 45 degree range and the lower in the 80 degree. It'd look nicer, but really that's all you are gaining. I plan on doing this on our shed with a 12/12 traditional main roof, then instead of eaves drop down at about 80* to create a gambrel roof -- though it's only an allusion to add solar panels without looking ugly.
                      All great ideas, and stuff I had thought about e.g. a gambrel to give some better angles for winter, but all-in-all, I think you can pack more than you'd *want* to invest in on a 12:12 for off-grid - see above.

                      Originally posted by mooregm View Post

                      5.) Thermal Storage -- I did some math on storage of thermal energy in sand/concrete versus water. While water per pound holds ~5x BTU per degree, the actual volume capacity of both is much closer. Sand/concrete is about 46% of water per cubic foot. So having 5000 gallons of water is the same as about 10k gallons of sand. 5000 gallons is about 800 cubic feet, or roughly a 6" slab of 1200 sq ft concrete. Better yet, if you were to dig down during construction an extra foot or three, you could insulate, then add dirt back, radiant loops, then concrete slab. That's the benefit of the thermal mass at only slight extra cost and no internal space utilized by water tanks. I would definitely do this in a garage as it you could utilize a smaller radiant heat pump using excess energy to heat the slab and then turn off that zone during cold times to coast for a few days.
                      Interesting concept - I think it would come down to cost effectiveness and efficiency i.e. what can hold the heat longer. That'd be where the rubber meets the road.

                      BTW I know I was not certain exactly what you meant by tank storage as I thought perhaps you were talking about water batteries - I occasionally see something about this on youtube, but have never looked into it. Well I did the calcs for 5000gal up 18' - it's like 0.2 kWh of storage. I didn't know that without doing the math - yeah water batteries work, but you you need a hell of a lot more volume and a hell of a lot more head for anything substantial. So to anyone that missed this, storing energy in heat is much, much, much more efficient in terms of volume.


                      Originally posted by mooregm View Post
                      8.) Thermal buffer vs thermal storage -- In off grid storage is very important, but many confuse thermal mass as storage, when it's really a buffer. An example of this would be the classic slab on grade in front of windows. That's really just buffering the daytime to the night time. But it's not really helping when the next three days are cloudy. Either the slab cools to 70* and thus is not providing any energy, or the house cools to 65* and it continues to provide energy, but only because the house is now cold -- neither option passes the wife test.
                      I would never personally do slab - I hate concrete floors. I don't like carpet or ceramics. Wood is the only option for me except kitchen/bathroom. I prefer joists with an opening, prefer basement but maybe crawl is ok, mainly for HVAC ducting, plumbing and wiring. For me doing my own work and my own sanity, the basement is my preferred choice for a home.

                      "Thermal buffer vs thermal storage" - right, I was trying to use damping as the operative word, but that may be confusing to some as it's not energy dissipation, but smoothing. I'm a DC amp nut, so I know all about this kind of thing for power supply design going from AC transformers to DC supplies. People use all sorts of different terms for this short term storage - it's filtering, and it's buffering.


                      Originally posted by mooregm View Post
                      9.) Probably my biggest take away from this whole tread is spending money where it matters. 2x6@24 vs 2x6@24 +2" exterior insulation vs 2x4@16 double walls vs 2x4 double walls with exterior insulation -- KISS is with the middle ground 2x6@24 + exterior insulation. Paying extra for the complexities and novelties of double studs is not worth the cost (50% more wood, more hammer time, non-traditional practice. Same for roof with standard rafters and fill it full of insulation. Though I'd still probably do attic trusses + insulation exterior insulation for the extra "free" square footage as if you are going to do a 12/12 pitch roof, mine as well get the benefit of extra space too. Similar for basement -- insulate reasonably but not crazy.
                      I'm not clear how this works out economically, but I'd be interested to see. I think, based on NYS requirements, 2x6 framing is becoming norm as there is a code requirement of R20+5 for walls - that would be a 2x6 wall with 5 continuous foam on the outside. It'd be easy to go +10 as well, again, I'd like to see the financial analysis there. I tend to think these state requirements have been thoroughly optimized based on the current market, and then drive the market.



                      Originally posted by mooregm View Post
                      Windows are probably the one thing may reconsider. Having just gone down this path and purchased windows in fall 2020 -- I opted for the double pane windows as triple pane did not compute. I think on-grid with a good heat pump in Syracuse area that still is the correct choice -- the payback is negative and windows need to be replaced every XX years. In ADKs with colder temperatures it begins to swing things in favor of triple pane, though I'm still not sure it matters enough. Off-grid, I think it does make sense as it will help year-round, but more importantly help most during design days, which is where the system is designed to saving extra panels and BTU sizing.
                      I'd have to see the analysis here - how much benefit in efficiency vs. extra cost vs. putting the cost into extra wall insulation. There's (usually) much more wall area, but windows have such low insulating value a small change can make a significant difference in efficiency. I can't do the math in my head nor do I have any idea the cost differences between adding +5 continuous vs. upgrading windows. Obviously going to be contingent on the # of windows in the design as well and surface area of the walls.
                      Last edited by montcalm; 01-17-2022, 03:02 PM.

                      Comment


                      • This whole discussion has prompted me to actually look into some real plans for my own home. Unfortunately, in NY, due to our taxes and the way our neighborhoods tend to develop wealth, I'm not in a position where I can expect any kind of ROI on major investments in my home. What I do is fix what's broken, or add efficiency. Beautification and luxury do not compute for my neighborhood and price point.

                        WTBS, Solar does seem like a great investment for me. I have a prime lot, minimal shading and great summer potential. Winter here by the numbers are worse than other areas I've looked at in terms of sun exposure. I don't know my roof pitch as I've never measured it, but I'd guess it's between 15-18 deg. I won't be able to brush it, it's 20' up. Usually our snow is light and when we have big dumps it thaws relatively quickly. Rare we get years it stays cold and snowy. I know this for certain because I pay close attention because of my skiing hobby. I need to look and see what these new 22% panels are going to run because I only have a small area. For 13 panels I want as much horsepower as I can generate.

                        No way I can net zero, but I will certainly pay them back in half their expected life and be in the black from there.

                        I want to evaluate air-sourced heat pump water heaters. I looked at some quick data and I believe they would be more efficient, and cheaper to operate than NG. I just replaced mine and never thought of anything else because the gas line is there, but that may be a worthwhile upgrade when that needs to go.

                        For AC, I'm using window units, and over 24,000 Btu/h for 1300 sq. ft. And it's still not completely effective at distributing the temp. I did a calculation of the COP and energy usage for all of them, and surely even a modestly efficient 2-ton AC would be much better. They are hugely expensive though. But I must say, it's a different game here than in the mountains. We get about a month of temps where you can open the windows but you might be running the heat at night, then it's hot and humid. And it doesn't let up until the end of September. I'm using about 2400 kWh a year on electric for AC. I think I could reduce that a lot.

                        I'm not sure about the future for heat here. It's going to be hard to give up that NG binky. I could add an air-sourced heat pump, but that's not going to work all the time - maybe 90% of heating needs could be met, and I'd still need a backup. Keep my NG online as the backup? Seems like a lot of expense for a backup and boost source. Maybe I'll get good mileage out of my furnace if I switch sooner. I feel the state and/or power companies are going to have to make this an easier decision...

                        Comment


                        • So per moorgm's comments, I went back and looked at off-grid with a few concessions:

                          - Wood primary heat + propane backup
                          - propane hot water
                          - propane stove

                          I adjusted my monthly electric to 325kW hours removing 90kWh for the electric stove (3kWh/day X 30days ave).

                          November is the worst month per average data with heat out of the equation but 11kW (33 panels ~$8k) gives you a 2X factor (650kWh). This works out to around 11kWh per day, so (2) 24kWh batteries ($20k) will give you 4 days of storage. Beyond that, it's candles. You could probably survive this.

                          I'm almost sure a generator would be cheaper, but... and you'd probably want at least a small one as a backup.

                          Might just be cheaper to do a system half as big with one battery and go to Florida for the winter...

                          Comment


                          • Random responses:
                            I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

                            The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

                            I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

                            I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.

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                            • Originally posted by billconner View Post
                              Random responses:
                              I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

                              The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

                              I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

                              I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.
                              As I understand it, the foam is only required when it's a "+X". They have a footnote in the code that says it must be continuous. There is no such note for the floor so I assume that means you can meet the R30 requirement by any combination of batts and/or continuous.


                              Yeah, I asked where in the code it was the specifics of posts and piers. I don't think there is any. As I see it's only soil pressures required to support the load. I'd assume, like you said earlier, you'd probably have to have an engineer submit the design for approval by the local jurisdiction.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by billconner View Post
                                Random responses:
                                I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

                                The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

                                I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

                                I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.
                                I did look at the code and it said R30, however it said less is okay as long as you fill the joist cavity with a minimum of R19. So, iif you have a 2x8 floor with filled cavity thats R22? and meets code if I read it correctly. That said, I support having more.
                                Last edited by John H Swanson; 01-18-2022, 09:50 AM. Reason: edit R value

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