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RE: Science of Roof insulation: what does frost tells us? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Brian_Knight on 01.21.2015 at 05:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

Christina, if everyone were as observant as you, our homes would cost us all less in energy while keeping us more comfortable. I believe you pretty much nailed it. Frost and light snow often creates these conditions where we can easily witness the inefficiencies between homes.

Melted snow or frost can be from the thermal bridging of framing or structural members but it can also show areas of generally warmer air or inefficiencies in the attic air-sealing or insulation.

 photo IMG_1254w.jpg
 photo IMG_1251 w.jpg

These were taken minutes apart on my street with simalar orientations. The first shows a SIP roof with thermal bridging of the 2x6 connections between panels. Not a good thing, but much better than the results a few homes down, showing a poorly weatherized vented attic. Air leakage and thin insulation, resulting in melting snow above the inside floor space but also the outdoor attic space above the porch.

These same characteristics are making it more expensive/uncomfortable in the summer. If those air leaks are combined with humid air, bad things happen behind the finished surfaces.

The same thing is going on with walls and part of the reasons for the newer code required best practices of insulative sheathing.

 photo Thermal_Bridging3.jpg


clipped on: 01.22.2015 at 09:45 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2015 at 09:45 pm

RE: Anyone have a Hoshizaki residential ice machine? Vs Manitowoc (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: akcorcoran on 08.23.2013 at 03:00 pm in Appliances Forum


I'm circling back around, since I asked the original question. :-) We did go with a Hoshizaki in our wet bar! We went with the Hoshizaki AM50BAEDS 15" Undercounter/Self-Contained Ice Maker Panel Ready. It was paneled by our cabinet company (which wasn't inexpensive but probably not much more than a whole cabinet. Because of our beverage/wine fridge, I wanted the symmetry of two cabinets on either side.

I was really close to getting the Manitowac - especially liked the delay feature and the filter replacement. BUT, and I'll grant you this is a personal preference, I didn't' like the size of the ice. It seemed giant to me! I felt like I had huge rocks in my mouth when I sampled it. Now, it melts down, etc, but in addition to the stellar reputation for Hoshizaki, I preferred the ice.

And, tiny little thing, but I like the scoop on the left inside of the unit vs on the door. Little ice chunks can fall and my friend with a Manitowac always has wet spots on her floor. If I did it again, I'd probably put it on the sink side of our wet bar (the other side) but we have a 2nd dishwasher there so didn't really have a choice. It makes for a nice beverage area on the clean side, but sometimes ice falls b/c I can't pour the scoop in a glass over a sink.

We were putting this in newly added space so we were able to put in a gravity drain so the water just flows down as it washes through the ice. I was worried about hearing the ice drop b/c everyone says that's loud in ice makers. We don't hear that really - not sure if the extra panel helps with that? Probably does.

What we DO hear is the vent/fan. Because it is made by a commercial company, it's there in the front under the unit. That's where they are in other appliances but the sound of that ventilation has come a long way in modern appliances where this icemaker still blows. It clicks on and you can't miss it. To be honest, it's probably the appliance I hear the most in our entire new wetbar and kitchen. I just wanted folks considering it to know.

I'd much prefer the white noise of a fan sound to the drip drop clunk of ice, so I've adjusted to it by now.

We have ours in a butler's pantry / wet bar, so it's not in any majorly-used room. There is a swinging door between that area and the dining room, so I just swing that closed if we're doing formal dining - I usually do that anyway for intimacy. (I'm the only one who hears it but still...) Or, I temporarily switch it off (right on front of unit) - it's got plenty of ice to last us an evening! :-)

THAT SAID, I would most likely buy it again. The ice is fantastic, we've had absolutely no problems - perfectly refreshing since the day it was installed. Produces tons of ice of the perfect size (top-hat style it's called,) and it's always fresh and tasty. Combined with the Little Butler "insta-cold/hot" we have across in a sink (34 degree water,) it's a dream come true.

We use the ice maker THE MOST of any appliance in the house. Probably scoop 20 - 30 times a day between the four of us. I'm not exaggerating! I know it's a luxury to have, and it makes me so happy. I'm an ice girl!

Here are pics (before our grout was in the tile, sorry about that! Icemaker is on the right side of the bev center) - let me know if I can tell you anything else. Good luck!


clipped on: 12.27.2014 at 11:10 pm    last updated on: 12.27.2014 at 11:10 pm

Hide a Hose Users - updgrade!

posted by: ocscott3085 on 07.02.2014 at 08:38 am in Building a Home Forum

Hi Everyone,
Thanks to all of the wonderful recommendations from Hide a hose users on these forums, I upgraded my standard central vac system with a HAH outlet last summer. Well, last week as I was pulling the hose from the outlet, the cuff where it attaches to the handle completely ripped off the hose. I was actually okay with this as I wanted to purchase a new hose with sock. However, after doing some research on some central vac store websites, I discovered that there's a new hose style available for HAH. It's called a "rapid flex" hose and it's blue in color, doesn't require a smelly sock, and makes your vacuum even more powerful. I was a bit skeptical but gave it a try and could NOT believe how much better the Turbocat ran when hooked up. I thought it worked well before but the suction is now even better! I was a little worried that not having a hose sock would cause scuffs but it just slides around my baseboards without any scratches or marks. I know some of you may be due for a new hose soon so I thought I'd share my experience since you were so generous in sharing yours a few years ago. I believe I only paid $80-something for a new 40ft rapid flex hose but again, well worth it!


clipped on: 12.17.2014 at 09:46 pm    last updated on: 12.17.2014 at 09:47 pm

RE: Tongue and groove Ceiling (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 12.06.2014 at 09:19 am in Building a Home Forum

before you install the t&g, know that it is very
as our biggest heat loss is through the
ceilings, sheetrock or tyvek behind the
t&g is a reasonable/cost effective step towards
air sealing this area.
take care to air seal the sheetrock/tyvek at

while I love the look, it quickly became
apparent when blower door testing homes
with these types of ceilings that they
are very leaky.
the above are solutions for this issue.

btw, I like just a clear seal to let the beauty
of the wood show. and it looks really
cool on the diagonal rather than straight
runs. just my personal preferences.

best of luck.


clipped on: 12.06.2014 at 10:33 pm    last updated on: 12.06.2014 at 10:34 pm

RE: Installation and window advise (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 10.05.2014 at 07:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

backer rods & caulk with a long life are the best
tried and true products. backer rod is for gaps
over 1/4", backer rod is pushed into gap &
caulked on both sides of backer rod to window &
wood framing. for large gaps let first pass of caulk
dry completely, then caulk over it. caulk will shrink
when wet to dry, so making a second pass is the
best application. after all...youwon't easily get
to these areas again.
I like dap's Alex caulk minimum 35 year life...but
as high as 50 year. I also like the clear caulk.
goes on white & dries clear in 24ish hours.
so you can see where you left off!

bet of luck.


clipped on: 12.02.2014 at 10:43 pm    last updated on: 12.02.2014 at 10:43 pm

RE: Quick Poll - Levers or knobs.... (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.20.2014 at 12:46 pm in Building a Home Forum

If you use cylindrical hardware the knobs work fine but the levers eventually sag so it is wise to use mortise hardware for interior and exterior lever handles which is quite a bit more expensive than cylindrical hardware. It is also wise to coordinate the choice with the door supplier so they don't arrive set up fir the wrong hardware.

For exterior door hardware you will probably want to use the mortise type for its additional latching/locking features as well as durability whatever knob you choose.


clipped on: 11.20.2014 at 10:00 pm    last updated on: 11.20.2014 at 10:00 pm

RE: Disappointed with new wimdows (Follow-Up #39)

posted by: toddinmn on 11.06.2014 at 08:42 am in Windows Forum

I switched to Polaris mostly due to pricing. The biggest problem I had with Soft-Lite is glass forming cracks, No other problems worth mentioning. I would upgrade to life-time free replacement glass and request the dealer to offer the labor. As mentioned I do like the locking finger pulls on the Soft-lite 1/2 screens which many do not have.


clipped on: 11.08.2014 at 06:01 pm    last updated on: 11.08.2014 at 06:02 pm

RE: did you buy before your build? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Bethanysmom on 09.28.2014 at 01:24 pm in Building a Home Forum

Great advice from MFatt16, and exactly what I've been doing (minus the last date to return.) I also keep up with the retail price and what I actually paid for it. It's been fun to see the savings add up.
Another tip - everything I've purchased, I've pinned on pinterest with notes on for what room in the house it goes, how much I paid for it, quantity, etc. I keep this on a secret board so I'm the only one who can see it. That way, while I'm out and about, I can just pull up pinterest on my phone and easily refresh my memory about what I've already bought.
If I bought online, it's easy to pin. If not online, I can easily snap a photo of it and pin that way. Pinterest and my spreadsheets have been my sanity-savers.


clipped on: 09.29.2014 at 09:32 pm    last updated on: 09.29.2014 at 09:32 pm

RE: Correct sink installation? Hercules Universal Sink Harness K (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Trebruchet on 07.16.2014 at 07:25 pm in Kitchens Forum


Forget the plywood and stud inserts. You want your sink supported by the cabinets, not the top, which is exactly what the HUSH does. Use it and nothing but a bead of 100% silicone at the flange to mount your sink.

I've installed at least 30 sinks with the HUSH. No callbacks in 5 years.


clipped on: 09.08.2014 at 09:33 pm    last updated on: 09.08.2014 at 09:33 pm

RE: need suggestions on non toxic insulation (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 09.05.2014 at 05:40 pm in Building a Home Forum

"For cavity insulation, I might argue that cellulose or fiberglass has just as many concerns as spray foam. At least spray foam will better stop air movement which helps reduce humid air flowing through building cavities which increases risks of hidden mold. "

I'd add that the same holds true for wall & attic insulation.
if the wall is air tight to start with,
(housewrap installed properly etc and air tight drywall approach
to interior) then there is no air moving through the wall cavity
to introduce into the living space any insulation particles.

by the same token if you put insulation on attic floor..and
ceiling of living space is full of unsealed holes ( IC recessed
lights, oversized cuts for hvac supply boxes & bath fans
just to name a few holes...then attic air will enter the
living space when central system comes on. with this
extreme temp attic air, as it filters through the insulation
it brings in particles of insulation & dust.

properly installed spray foam seals air leakage & insulates
in one...but at a hefty price.

the term 'toxic insulation' is offensive in that no insulation
is good for you...but we aren't eating the stuff.
put insulation in a sealed wall or ceiling & there is no
toxicity entering the living space.

air seal and what you put in walls & attic isn't an issue.

best of luck.


clipped on: 09.08.2014 at 09:02 pm    last updated on: 09.08.2014 at 09:02 pm

RE: SIPs (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 08.26.2014 at 10:56 am in Building a Home Forum

I, personally, prefer SIPS.
floors walls & roofline.
when done correctly this is a very
efficient system with continuous
R-values and tight construction.
less hvac needed & very efficient.

its what I'd use if building.

best of luck.


clipped on: 09.01.2014 at 04:50 pm    last updated on: 09.01.2014 at 04:50 pm

RE: Low-E 366 Windows (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 08.06.2014 at 01:54 pm in Building a Home Forum

I agree with flashing being very important, and
that few do it correctly.
I'd be willing to bet that the stine housewrap is cut in
a big ol X for window to be installed.
(we have stine in my area...where ya at jdez??)

flashing tapes make proper flashing easier, but
even tape is applied sides over sides
and bottom left open for any moisture to escape.

more than low e 366...I look for solar heat gain coeffieient
& u-value numbers. these numbers should be on nfrc sticker
on all windows that are independently tested.

best of luck


clipped on: 08.06.2014 at 09:59 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2014 at 09:59 pm

RE: Fiberglass insulation on exterior foundation??? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.24.2014 at 02:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

Warm-N-Dry rigid fiber glass insulation board has been offered by Owens Corning as foundation insulation for several decades. It primary feature is rapid water drainage due to the layering of the fiberglass mats.

It was originally promoted with a cold spray-on modified-asphalt waterproofing product from Koch Waterproofing called Tuff-N-Dri (now owned by Tremco). I have used these products together and they are very cost effective.

A thickness of 2 3/8" is needed to get an R value of 10.

What did you use for waterproofing?

Here is a link that might be useful: Warn-N-Dri


clipped on: 07.28.2014 at 09:34 pm    last updated on: 07.28.2014 at 09:34 pm

RE: Improving ACH from production builder (4.5 to ?) (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 07.12.2014 at 07:28 pm in Building a Home Forum

this may help, see attached pic.

I use hardcast brand 1402 mastic tape,
and use it in many places. this is a good strong
tape that has a long life. even at $30 per roll
(3" wide 100') it is a good deal.
personally I hate to have to go back & re-do...
so over the years, this is my only tape to use.
invest in this tape and you'll only seal once.

as you can see from the pic, the sealing is done
from inside the house, much easier than working
from attic side. the pic is from an existing home...
but as long as sheetrock is'll want to
do this for recessed light cuts in sheetrock &
bath fans. stove vents..anything that penetrates
into attic space.

if all zip seams are sealed, sole plate is sealed to
slab/subfloor, windows & doors are properly flashed
& sealed...then look to ceiling for leakage.
thermal bypasses like fireplace openings in attic
that are not sealed at attic floor. dropped ceilings,
and any holes cut into ceilings.
builders do good with making walls air tight, but
trades people cut holes in ceiling, this is the air
barrier to the attic.
holes in ceiling will suck attic air into living space,
so sealing these holes & creating as perfect as
possible air barrier is the goal.

and don't sweat it if you can't get it all done
during construction. I can pretty much walk
you through sealing methods during or after
home is completed.

I'l have to check out JLC article later.
what I tell my clients is to tell sheetrock crew
that no ceiling moldings are being installed.
this way they tape & seal the wall/ceiling joints.

air tight drywall approach...even just to google
it will show you lots of ways to seal.
here in the south...we don't gasket much or
caulk sheetrock to studs...but in cold climates
these methods are more of an issue.

kudos to you for putting ductwork inside cond
space...this is such a great thing to do...I wish
arch/designers would incorporate this in every
new home. my analysis show I have a 25% energy
savings by putting my ducts in furdowns in the
cond space.

I meant to ask earlier...where are you located??
best of luck.


clipped on: 07.14.2014 at 09:36 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2014 at 09:36 pm

RE: What are the "extras" you think are worth adding...Go! (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: Brian_Knight on 06.22.2014 at 07:13 pm in Building a Home Forum

Sorry, its Electrically Commutated Motor ECM, a much more efficient motor technology that I think uses DC current which should increase the life of the unit too as long as occupants remember to change the filters..

The efficiency and selection of fresh air introduction equipment is coming on fast but I typically use Venmar brand (Eko1.5) and last I checked only the HRVs had ECM fans which use about 14watts or the amount of a compact flourescent lightbulb. Going to the ERV with Venmar meant going to 100-200 watts which adds up when you run your fresh air equipment like you should. Hopefully, they last longer too. I like the service offered by the local Venmar rep but I know there are other HRV/ERV companies out there with good products.

I also dont think that the year round performance matters much between ERV and HRV in most climates. What matters is getting the house tight enough to be efficient and having control of the indoor air quality.


clipped on: 06.25.2014 at 09:11 pm    last updated on: 06.25.2014 at 09:11 pm

RE: Things My Architect Said (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Renovator8 on 06.22.2014 at 10:40 am in Building a Home Forum

That can in fact happen if the contractor reveals the duct design after the house has been framed. Even when the hvac design is the responsibility of the architect, the hvac designer is still responsible for coordination of the ducts with the framing so you should ask the architect if the framing plans were available to the hvac designer\builder. And ask when the architect saw a duct layout with sizes and if it called for metal or flex ducts. This is often information not available to an architect if he/she is not in control of the project.

It should be made clear in any construction contract that all parties are responsible for coordination of systems and that all conflicts must be reported to the architect or owner immediately. Holding people responsible for things over which they have no control is poor management. Follow the path of control to find who had the opportunity to avoid a conflict.


clipped on: 06.24.2014 at 09:59 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2014 at 09:59 pm

RE: Slope of tile (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Renovator8 on 05.30.2014 at 12:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

I cap the top of this kind of wall with one piece of marble so it can tolerate water. In fact I avoid tile on any horizontal surface other than a floor.


clipped on: 06.02.2014 at 09:48 pm    last updated on: 06.02.2014 at 09:48 pm

RE: Tell me a clever or useful wiring thing you did (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: annkh on 05.29.2014 at 05:50 pm in Building a Home Forum

If you still have a land line, get a hot phone jack - you can power a cordless phone without running a cord to the nearest outlet. I have my electrician to thank for this - I didn't know it existed.


clipped on: 05.29.2014 at 09:47 pm    last updated on: 05.29.2014 at 09:47 pm

RE: Wiring for Internet in 2014 (Electrical bid) (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bus_driver on 05.28.2014 at 08:29 am in Building a Home Forum

My choice would be 3/4" conduit which would permit installing/changing the cables as desired or as necessary. For the 4 finished rooms in my house where such might be wanted, there are in each room 3 boxes with 3/4" ENT. The upstairs rooms have the ENT run to the attic, the downstairs room has the ENT run to the basement. From attic to basement is a 2" PVC conduit.
At present, I use no wireless equipment. In the days before solid -state electronics, the usable range of broadcast frequencies was quite limited and was fully utilized with no room for expansion. The advent of solid-state enabled use of higher frequencies. But the possibility of needing to surrender broadcast frequencies for other uses in the future still exists and having the ability to install hard wiring offers flexibility. The broadcast frequency spectrum still has limitations.

This post was edited by bus_driver on Wed, May 28, 14 at 8:40


clipped on: 05.28.2014 at 09:13 pm    last updated on: 05.28.2014 at 09:13 pm

RE: Calling all Fantasy Brown Owners! (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: karin_mt on 05.06.2014 at 08:26 pm in Kitchens Forum

Nice report, well done! I wonder if, like Super White, it is dolomitic marble which is more resistant to acid. If you want to try the test for dolomite, use a thumbtack or something to scratch up a bit of the stone. Leave the dusty material that you scratched on the surface of the rock, don't wipe it off.

Then put a drop of vinegar on the rock and see what happens. If it fizzes in the scratched area but not anywhere else, then you have dolomite.


clipped on: 05.06.2014 at 09:25 pm    last updated on: 05.06.2014 at 09:26 pm

RE: Mortar is way too dark! Is it possible to lighten? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Renovator8 on 03.20.2014 at 05:37 pm in Building a Home Forum

Click on the photo and it will turn right side up.

You can't change the mortar odor but it might help if the door trim was the same material as the doors or painted to match the stone.

I might add that traditionally a large opening in a stone wall requires a large header but in modern construction a steel angle can be hidden behind the stonework or if the stone is a thin imitative cladding it can be hung from the wood framing. To make the opening look traditional (i.e. like a real stone wall) it is usually necessary to show a large imitation header or lintel under the stone. If this is not done, it is important to place any wood trim back from the face of the stone and paint it to match the stone or the door so it is not so obvious that there is no visible support for the stone work.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 18:34


clipped on: 03.20.2014 at 09:39 pm    last updated on: 03.20.2014 at 09:39 pm

RE: best way to clear wooded land & preserve soil (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: saftgeek on 03.04.2014 at 09:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

I'm a tree lover, but I also love wildlife and wanted to have food plots where the deer and turkey could find forage in later in the winter. I planned to clear off the ridge tops on my 20 acres and keep the thicker stuff along the sides for cover. I had a highlift come in and clear it all out. This was the only way to go. It took very little time and we were able to burn the piles till all we had were root balls which wouldn't burn up any more. Once the ridge tops were cleared we had to do a lot of disc work to get the soil leveled out and ready to hold seed. So far I've planted wheat, clover, turnips, radish, rape, and fescue. The fescue went anywhere the ground could erode. I rotate in all the other stuff. I was amazed at how much wildlife used the food plots. So much so I decided to build them a pond so they had water close by. Now I have deer who reside on my property year round. I had one doe raise three little fawns this fall.

I guess to each his own. It's your property and you do with it as you'd like. When I dozed off the ridge tops I had everyone telling me I was making a mistake. Now these same folks are amazed at the wildlife my property holds.

Recently, we decided to build a house on the land and I had to cut about 20 large red oaks to do so. I didn't want to burn them. I wanted to somehow have them be a part of our home. I cut saw logs out of the larger trees and then had them cut, dried, and milled into hardwood flooring. We have them laid in the new build and I am super happy with them. It was the right thing to do.

Don't let some of the comments get to you. A lot of folks who post on here have never lived anywhere where people actually cut down trees to burn as firewood. I've read about folks on here who have to get the city to come out and approve a trimming plan just to trim a tree. I can't imagine that level of oversight.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


clipped on: 03.06.2014 at 09:26 pm    last updated on: 03.06.2014 at 09:26 pm

RE: When is a door blower test done for a new construction? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 08.29.2013 at 01:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

I always do my blower door after sheetrock, when
a/c condensing unit is installed I have to verify
efficiency of installed a/c unit.

of course I also do an open wall, intermediate
inspection, once house is blacked in, ductwork is
installed with furnace, windows, doors and insulation
in place. at this time I do inspection & verification
of all above, a walk around of outside & inside of
house to point out leakage areas to be addressed.

this inspection isn't manditory for my provider's
requirements but I've found that without this inspection..
the houses aren't sealed as well as with the inspection. this time there are still tradespeople on
site to do the work.
it is my personal choice to do this additional inspection.
( I think it should be manditory...but it isn't...yet)
after 15 years of doing this work..I can catch the
bulk of the leakage at this point. it will
differ depending on experience of rater/auditor/
person doing the testing.

I read of others doing testing prior to sheetrock,
but unless ceilings are solid sheeted, I don't get
how you can blower door test a house with living
space open to attic...and attic vented.

at any rate the price quoted should include any
inspections, recommendations & testing.
if the house at any point when tested had excessive
leakage...then an additional test is needed to verify
that leakage was addressed. otherwise it is just
the opinion of someone that the house achieved
its non verified degree of tightness...a wag.

in the big scheme of things..paying for a blower
door test is a minimal charge compared to other
items in the house. and as a tighter house is
easier to heat/cool...the cost is quickly recouped.

best of luck.


clipped on: 08.29.2013 at 09:57 pm    last updated on: 08.29.2013 at 09:58 pm

RE: Question about the Elux double ovens (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: lee676 on 08.24.2013 at 08:33 pm in Appliances Forum

Correct answer is:

"Icon" models - 3 glide-out racks per oven (i.e. 6 total for a double oven)
"Wave Touch" models - 2 glide-out racks and 1 standard rack per oven
"IQ Touch" models - 1 glide-out rack and 2 standard per oven

Icon is available in 30"w only; other two are 27" or 30"w.

You can choose the height position for the glide-out rack(s), and which oven they go into, so for example if you got the Wave Touch double oven, you could have 3 gliding racks in one oven and 1 gliding rack in the other if you prefer rather than 2 and 2. You can also order an extra glide-out rack from appliance parts sellers.


clipped on: 08.24.2013 at 10:05 pm    last updated on: 08.24.2013 at 10:05 pm

RE: Need Advice on Build - Insulation (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: lzerarc on 08.21.2013 at 09:12 am in Building a Home Forum

I am not sure I understand what they are proposing. If it is what I think it is, it is incorrect and does nothing for you. From what you put, they are wanting to blow cellulose and also use fiberglass batts? This makes 0 sense and not even sure how or why they would do that. Also r26 is a dream. The most you can possibly hit with that combination is an r20.

I am assuming you mean they will blow closed cell foam first and then use r13 batts. That would be roughly 2.5" of closed cell foam and then 3.5" of batts, which gets you close to that r26, and also makes sense with the price you listed. However Do I think you should do this? No, I do not. You are FAR better to install rigid insulation on the exterior of your studs and use air tight sheathing instead of closed cell spray foams. Closed cell will seal up the stud bays and make them air tight, but it does nothing for thermal bridging and does not seal up places such as top and bottom plates.
Also, the r26 they claim is only cavity space insulation values, and not clear wall value. Due to framing and thermal bridigng, you can expect to reduce that number by 15-20% for your clear wall value. Adding exterior insulation keeps your r value the same for the cavity, but increases the areas where you have an r1, whcih is at every single stud, header and framing member in your wall.

For zone 5, here is what I find is the go too wall assembly that will perform extremely well, is cost effective, and does not rely on spray foams to seal things up.

Assuming they have not framed the walls, then I would recommend as such: use Huber ZIP exterior sheathing with taped joints. This will give you an exterior air and water tight barrier everywhere on your wall, and not just in the stud bays. They omit Tyvek. Install 1-1.5" of XPS foam sheathing over the sheathing to give your shelf a thermal break and an r5 to r7.5 boost. Your r1 studs now change to r8.5 (if using 1.5" XPS) and your stud bays now change from r19/20 to about r27. Your whole wall average increases as you can see since you have higher r over your studs than before. This also continues to create an air tight shell. At this point, you can fill your stud bays with whatever you want and it will perform much better. I would still recommend a blown cellulose or fiberglass, however going with batts would also work, just not quite as effective.

Air sealing if far more important than higher r value. Focus on this, and then put money into boosting the r value. Keep in mind, the more r value and air sealing you add, you can start to reduce other costs such as your mechanical system. You install a smaller mechanical system, which means lower upfront cost there (helps to offset added exterior sheathing) but more importantly lower heating/cooling costs for the life of the home.

As for the ceiling, it is just as important as the walls. these need air sealed as well. I find one of the best and easiest ways is to have them do an "attic seal" with open cell spray foam. All they do is spray all penetrations where they come through the drywall in the attic. They only need a couple inches, and not over the entire ceiling, just at the penetrations. This includes electrical, plumbing, framing, etc. If you have can lighting, wrap them in some fiberglass batts and spray around them to form a cocoon. Cans are extremely leaky, even so called "air tight cans".
After this, then BLOW insulation in, do not use batts. And r38 is very low. Blowing in thicker insulation is pennies per inch typcailly. Bump it up to atleast r50, better yet go r60.

Invest in GOOD windows with good u values. Shoot for u values of .30 and lower. Consider windows with higher SHGC values (.45 and higher) on south windows if you have good overhangs. These sorts of tweaks typically do not cost anything.

Bumping of values mentioned about can shift your "rule of thumb" HVAC sizing (I will say, rule of thumbs are completely inaccurate and you need to have a manual J preformed for your equipment, espeically if you increase r values) from 1 ton of heating /1000 sqft to about 1500 sqft. This means you can decrease your equipment by 1 to 2 tons easily. My home, which similar square footage in a higher heating zone 6 only needs 24k btu for heating, which means it costs about $45 in Jan to heat 3800 sqft. It cost me $16 to cool my home this last month with high 80s and low 90s daily with a set point at 72. It does not have much higher r values than I recommended above. infact its very similar given the different zones. But it has been meticulously air sealed and then r30 in the walls and r60 in the roof with triple pane glass.

You are building a million dollar home. I assume your finishes, both exterior and interior are high end and quite nice. You would be doing yourself a serious diservice by not putting more money into the shell of your home since after all, that is what protects you and yours, and also is the ONLY place you can see financial payback. Its your money, but these are my proven recommendations to your questions. I am confident my recommendations will cost roughly the same as what they are giving you as an upgrade for your foam. Also eheck with local utilties, they may ahve rebates for higher performing homes. Around here, if you build to Energy Star 3.0 you can get up to around $6k back in rebates. Worth looking into.


clipped on: 08.21.2013 at 09:15 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2013 at 09:15 pm

RE: Exterior window trim? (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.08.2013 at 11:04 am in Building a Home Forum

Azek, ATW, etc. are made of cellular PVC. A sub-sill can be shipped from ATW or cut from a piece of AZEK (or another brand of cellular PVC), wood or whatever you prefer to use.

MiraTEC TRIM is a wood "composite" formed by blending a zinc borate (preservative) slurry with hardwood fibers and then laying down a continuous mat. The mat is hot pressed to form boards which are then cut to size and primed.

I was not talking about the position of the window only the trim. A traditional window has flat casing trim at the head (top) and jambs (sides) but nothing is installed at the bottom so that siding can be brought up under the sill overhang and water can drip from it. Unfortunately, many modern windows do not have a sill nosing that projects far enough to act as a drip and water penetration at this location is common even if flashing is installed at the sheathing plane. Adding flat trim ("picture-framing") almost increases the likelihood that water will penetrate behind the siding below the sill.

Often it is necessary or advisable to add a "sub-sill" below the window to create a proper drip. A side benefit is that when that is done, the sub-sill can be made long enough to reach the outside edges of the jamb trim allowing the jamb trim to rest on the sub-sill just like a traditional window.

See photo and section detail.


clipped on: 07.17.2013 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 07.17.2013 at 09:20 pm

Rainwater collection system: 6 mo in

posted by: hddana on 06.04.2013 at 11:23 am in Building a Home Forum

When I originally posted that we were going to use rainwater collection as our only source of water, a few people asked me to post later, so here it is. We live in Texas in a county that is still designated as suffering severe drought, so more than one person has expressed doubt about choosing rainwater collection for the sole water source. The same drought conditions can affect the ground water sources, and in our area there is plenty of concern about the drain on the aquifer by all the development being encouraged. We have heard that initial wells went dry a few years back. Few people in our subdivision who came late to the game and have to drill 750' or more for water are completely satisfied with the water. It is very hard and can damage appliances even if softened. One lady here does rainwater collection for her pool because no one would go in with the strong sulfur smell. The cost of a well can go over $23k; the pumps wear out prematurely, and it takes a crane to pull them for replacement. So you can see that people might consider alternative solutions.

We decided to go with a 20k gallon galvalume tank with an FDA-approved liner and an initial filter as the water comes in; there is also an overflow outlet and a special connection for fire trucks. We constructed the sand and gravel pad for it and ensured it was lower than the lowest part of our roof guttering. We got a metal roof and were pleasantly surprised at the cost after shopping around very diligently; the gutters came with the roof, and they provided holes and drops for downspouts. Our roof is quite large and is the key feature in collecting rain. There are figures you use to estimate how much an inch of rain will yield off your roof, and ours will provide about 2000 gallons. We catch from both the main roof and porch roof. The gentleman who provided the tank also provided two filters, our UV light purification, and a 1hp pump to pump into the house. These we set up in a small pump house next to the main house.

DH and my DB were doing most of the work on the house, so after a lot of research and study, they decided we could save some serious money if they ran the pipes from the gutters to the tank. Normally, a turnkey job is about the same cost as a well. We had advice from some pros who are old friends as well. We ran downspouts down to a pipe that runs along the outside perimeter of the house. We live on solid rock, so any trenching had to be deemed completely necessary. Knowing we would eventually bring in some dirt for planting, DH just buried the pipe along the walls of the house with dirt so it doesn't show. From this pipe, the water goes across a small distance to the tank in a trench. Then it goes, and here is where you have to believe in physics, UP to the tank and in to that initial filter. There is also a pipe with a fitting that shoots off before the tank so we can empty the pipes. It is called a "wet" system since water remains in the pipes between rain events. Most systems would have had a "first wash" downspout to take the first rain for discarding. We were advised against this by the pro who provided our tank and filters, etc.since we have virtually no trees near our roof. The roof is not only large, it is quite high in the air. In the picture, the tank is just to the left of the house.

The late September tank delivery was delayed until November (fracking operations south of us were monopolizing the rainwater tank business), so we missed some really good rains in October. We purchased some bulk drinking water, 6000 gallons, from a local water company. At present, prices are not terribly high. Our last home was in a subdivision with a private water company that charged $100 mo for water and sewer before use. So the water we bought for $360 did not seem onerous to us. It is conceivable that the price of delivered water could go up. Since buying this water, we have had only three "good rains," and a number of misty, drizzly rains of less than .5". After a 3.5" rain last month, the tank is now 3/4 full. We expect this will last until the dry summer is over and the typical September rains come. Otherwise, we might be buying water again.

The water is naturally soft, tastes fine, and we have no doubts about drinking it, bathing in it, or cooking with it. There is much less soap scum in our tubs and showers. We are very satisfied at this point with our choice. Many people on rain systems become fanatic water conservationists. We have not really changed our lifestyle, but we realize we could. We do watch the weather a lot more than we used to. We determined that even if our rainfall decreases to half the 20" that is considered "normal" rainfall, 10 inches per year, it would provide enough water for our use. Below that we would have to hope that water suppliers do not raise their prices a great deal. We have no water bill and will save annually about $1000 because we get a county tax credit in this county for having rainwater as our water source.

We installed gutters and a non-potable 2500 gal. water tank for our garage roof. This tank has already overflowed. The water is for planting landscape plants at a later stage. Now we are using it to water trees between rains.

So, six months in, we are optimistic and happy with our rainwater collection system. There are others with similar systems in our subdivision, and some of the new builds going on here will have them. I hope this answers questions for anyone interested in having a rainwater system. It was a solution for a particular set of circumstances, and one we could do some of the labor on ourselves to save installation costs.


clipped on: 06.06.2013 at 09:45 pm    last updated on: 06.06.2013 at 09:45 pm

RE: ? on crown molding and cabinets to the ceiling (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: ekbecker1 on 06.06.2013 at 12:58 pm in Kitchens Forum

FWIW, one of the GC's I interviewed told me that he usually doesn't order the crown molding from the cabinet company. Like some other posters have suggested, he prefers to order unfinished crown and then paint or stain it to match the cabinets.

The crown is high up at the ceiling and also the light hits it differently than the vertical surfaces of the cabinets and doors, so the slight difference in finishes is not obvious.

One advantage to doing this is that the crown pieces you can get from a cabinet company are usually only 8' sections. The unfinished pieces are available in larger sections which require fewer seams therefore less potential for cracking at the seams with the changes in seasons.

Another advantage is that the crown that comes from the cabinet company is usually quite expensive. They use the same 20-step process that they use on the doors and drawers which get a lot of traffic. The crown is a stationary item that will not be opened, closed, bumped or touched on a daily basis. It does not need the super duper finish that you need on your cabinets.

Another advantage is that you can use the same crown molding in other parts of your house if you want to have a matching look.


clipped on: 06.06.2013 at 09:15 pm    last updated on: 06.06.2013 at 09:15 pm

RE: Insulation Choices (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Brian_Knight on 04.18.2013 at 08:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

While I agree most attics should have R60 in the US, its tough to justify in actual practice in climate zones below 5 or so. John Straube is in a cold climate but many other building scientists recommend those levels for most of the country.

As for foam in the walls, I heartily agree with energy rater as to the importance of exterior insulative sheathing, but think you should price both cellulose and OC foam for the cavities. In our area they are very close in costs. I say no to batts almost always due to their difficulty to properly install.

The new ZIP R product is tough to beat for its labor and air sealing properties. Reducing thermal bridging is usually more important than R value.

If you are concerned about R value and insulation, you should be more concerned with the airtightness as measured by the blower door test.

Airtight is much more important than R value!

Blower door test numbers reveal much more than the "R values" of building components.


clipped on: 04.20.2013 at 05:41 pm    last updated on: 04.20.2013 at 05:41 pm

RE: Insulation Choices (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 04.18.2013 at 04:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

no to foaming the walls.
a much better and affordable option is to
use 1" foam sheathing board on exterior
of walls, conventional insulation in walls,
and air tight drywall approach for sheetrock.

so where are ducts located?
unvented attics also make houses more
hurricane resistant.

best of luck.


clipped on: 04.20.2013 at 05:36 pm    last updated on: 04.20.2013 at 05:36 pm

RE: Pocket Doors - Do or Don't? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: brickeyee on 04.02.2013 at 02:12 pm in Building a Home Forum

Most builders have no idea how to handle pocket doors, and routinely manage to mess them up starting from teh framing.

The header in the opening is NOT the support for the pocket door track, espcecialy in weight bearing walls.

A separate framing member is used below the header with some clearance to the header to mount the pocket door track.

You do need a double width header for a pocket door.
Both the doorway AND the pocket must be headered off.

The typical guides WILL eventually scratch the face of the door.

A guide in the pocket (a small piece of angled aluminum on the floor of the pocket)) that travels in a groove on the bottom of the door works much better.

Johnson hardware is the only type you should consider, and if you can thicken the wall and avoid the 'kits' since a 2x4 wall cannot have any electrical in the pocket.

A 2x6 wall (AKA 'wet wall') will allow use of 1.25 inch deep 4x4 boxes to mount electrical. The 2x6 studs are turned 90 degrees and used 'on the flat.'

111PD (up to 150 lb doors) is fine unless you have a heavy door, then use 100PD (200 pound rating).


clipped on: 04.02.2013 at 09:34 pm    last updated on: 04.02.2013 at 09:34 pm

RE: Why brand of appliances are you using in your new house? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: athensmomof3 on 12.06.2012 at 05:58 pm in Building a Home Forum

We too have a mixture!

SZ 736 fully integrated all fridge - love it!!!! Husband just pulled out some lettuce dated a month ago which was still fresh. Whatever they do to filter the air is amazing.

Two KA dishwashers - lower end and higher end. Both panel ready and fully integrated. Can't tell a difference between them on cleaning ability. More cycles on the more expensive one but also the cutlery tray which is useless to me. I like to throw it in the basket and take the basket to put it away:)

Electrolux Icon Professional Speed Oven and Convection Oven - love both. Have basically not used the speed feature but it is a great microwave and a second oven. It preheats super quickly so I use it lots for the little additions to meals - crescent rolls, garlic bread, etc. Only complaint is I hate the SS interior. Hard to clean and I am a neat freak ;)

KA fridge/freezer drawers - love these. We have a tiny freezer in the kitchen with an inexpensive Frigidaire freezer in the laundry. We keep only the immediate access stuff in the kitchen freezer drawer - basically frozen waffles, a half gallon of ice cream and frozen berries for protein shakes. The rest goes into the big freezer. . .

Hoshizaki ice maker. Jury still out. For the ice connoisseur great ice - top hat ice which is good for drinks. It is LOUD. It is also expensive to run in our crazy high water price town (worse than the West coast - loony!). The pros are it is easy to turn off which I do regularly - it takes several days for the ice to melt down and then I turn it back on. Ice gets a little cloudy but fine for us - if we are having folks over I turn it on a day in advance.


clipped on: 02.13.2013 at 09:38 pm    last updated on: 02.13.2013 at 09:38 pm

RE: IBC - Tempered glass requirement (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: Renovator8 on 02.13.2013 at 08:18 am in Building a Home Forum

kirkhall, if the IRC applied to your project without revision, your inspector was not over-zelous, he simply "misremembered" the glazing provisions. The code specifically exempts "Glazing that is adjacent to the fixed panel of patio doors" (item 2, last exception).

Safety glazing is required by the IRC in "hazardous locations" which are defined as follows:

R308.4 Hazardous locations.
The following shall be considered specific hazardous locations for the purposes of glazing:

1. Glazing in all fixed and operable panels of swinging, sliding and bifold doors.
- Glazed openings of a size through which a 3-inch diameter (76 mm) sphere is unable to pass.
- Decorative glazing.

2. Glazing in an individual fixed or operable panel adjacent to a door where the nearest vertical edge is within a 24-inch (610 mm) arc of the door in a closed position and whose bottom edge is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above the floor or walking surface.
- Decorative glazing.
- When there is an intervening wall or other permanent barrier between the door and the glazing.
- Glazing in walls on the latch side of and perpendicular to the plane of the door in a closed position.
- Glazing adjacent to a door where access through the door is to a closet or storage area 3 feet (914 mm) or less in depth
- Glazing that is adjacent to the fixed panel of patio doors.

3. Glazing in an individual fixed or operable panel that meets all of the following conditions:
3.1. The exposed area of an individual pane is larger than 9 square feet (0.836 m2); and
3.2. The bottom edge of the glazing is less than 18 inches (457 mm) above the floor; and
3.3. The top edge of the glazing is more than 36 inches (914 mm) above the floor; and
3.4. One or more walking surfaces are within 36 inches (914 mm), measured horizontally and in a straight line, of the glazing.
- Decorative glazing.
- When a horizontal rail is installed on the accessible side(s) of the glazing 34 to 38 inches (864 to 965) above the walking surface. The rail shall be capable of withstanding a horizontal load of 50 pounds per linear foot (730 N/m) without contacting the glass and be a minimum of 11/2 inches (38 mm) in cross sectional height.
- Outboard panes in insulating glass units and other multiple glazed panels when the bottom edge of the glass is 25 feet (7620 mm) or more above grade, a roof, walking surfaces or other horizontal [within 45 degrees (0.79 rad) of horizontal] surface adjacent to the glass exterior.

4. All glazing in railings regardless of area or height above a walking surface. Included are structural baluster panels and nonstructural infill panels.

5. Glazing in enclosures for or walls facing hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, bathtubs and showers where the bottom exposed edge of the glazing is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) measured vertically above any standing or walking surface.
Exception: Glazing that is more than 60 inches (1524 mm), measured horizontally and in a straight line, from the waters edge of a hot tub, whirlpool or bathtub.

6. Glazing in walls and fences adjacent to indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs and spas where the bottom edge of the glazing is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above a walking surface and within 60 inches (1524 mm), measured horizontally and in a straight line, of the water's edge. This shall apply to single glazing and all panes in multiple glazing.

7. Glazing adjacent to stairways, landings and ramps within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally of a walking surface when the exposed surface of the glazing is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above the plane of the adjacent walking surface.
- When a rail is installed on the accessible side(s) of the glazing 34 to 38 inches (864 to 965 mm) above the walking surface. The rail shall be capable of withstanding a horizontal load of 50 pounds per linear foot (730 N/m) without contacting the glass and be a minimum of 11/2 inches (38 mm) in cross sectional height.
- The side of the stairway has a guardrail or handrail, including balusters or in-fill panels, complying with Sections R311.7.7 and R312 and the plane of the glazing is more than 18 inches (457 mm) from the railing; or
- When a solid wall or panel extends from the plane of the adjacent walking surface to 34 inches (863 mm) to 36 inches (914 mm) above the walking surface and the construction at the top of that wall or panel is capable of withstanding the same horizontal load as a guard.

8. Glazing adjacent to stairways within 60 inches (1524 mm) horizontally of the bottom tread of a stairway in any
direction when the exposed surface of the glazing is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above the nose of the tread.
- The side of the stairway has a guardrail or handrail, including balusters or in-fill panels, complying with Sections R311.7.7 and R312 and the plane of the glass is more than 18 inches (457 mm) from the railing; or
- When a solid wall or panel extends from the plane of the adjacent walking surface to 34 inches (864 mm) to 36 inches (914 mm) above the walking surface and the construction at the top of that wall or panel is capable of withstanding the same horizontal load as a guard.


clipped on: 02.13.2013 at 09:22 pm    last updated on: 02.13.2013 at 09:22 pm

RE: Argon/Krypton Gas insulation (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: oberon on 04.04.2008 at 09:15 pm in Windows Forum

Hi kari,

Krypton is an odorless, colorless, gas that is heavier than air. Krypton is used in window IG or Insulating Glass units as an insulator. Krypton has no effect on direct sunlight thru the window glass.

Krypton is normally used in narrow airspace triple pane units. That means that there are three lites of glass in the IGU (most IG units have two lites). Krypton is very expensive and it works best in narrow spaces (approximately 1/4" give or take a little). This is why it is usually found in more expensive triple pane windows.

Argon, which is also a colorless, odorless gas, is much more commonly used as a window insulator because it is much more readily available than krypton and it is also much less expensive.

I am guessing that your friend's father has a triple pane IGU if he actually does have krypton gas. I am also guessing that if he does have a triple pane window, he has LowE2 coatings on two of the glass panes in the window system. This combination of triple pane, two LowE coatings, and krypton gas is very energy efficient, and it will do a very good job of keeping the home's heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer, but it will also do a very good job of blocking direct solar heat gain - as you describe.

In the summer, blocking direct solar heat gain is a good thing. In the winter it is nice to be able to enjoy that free heat. That leaves something of a problem for many folks. Can you have both?

Since you are in the process of designing your home, you can design to take advantage of both direct solar heat gain in winter and blocking that unwanted gain in summer.

First, LowE or Low Emissivity coatings come in two primary types hard coat or soft coat.

Second, LowE coatings come in two primary types high solar heat gain or low solar heat gain.

Hard coat or pyrolitic coating is applied during the float process (when the glass is being produced). Consisting primarily of tin oxide, hard coat LowE coatings are generally used in the north where they are an improvement over clear glass in blocking heat loss during cold weather. Most hard coat LowE coatings readily pass solar heat, but there are solar-reflective versions available as well.

The primary advantage of a pyrolitic LowE coating is its durability. It is much harder to damage than the soft coat.

Another advantage - in the right climate - is that hard coat will pass solar heat more readily than will a soft coat - this coating does an excellent job of blocking longwave infrared radiation - solar heat gain is shortwave IR. But, there is a disadvantage in that the hard coat will also pass the longwave radiation (non-solar heat) more readily than will the soft coat. What this means is that while the hardcoat lets more heat in, as direct solar heat gain, it also tends to let more heat out as well.

Hard coats also are more prone to haze and discoloration than are soft coats. Hard coats were the first on the market.

Soft or sputter coats are used in about 80-85% of LowE applications in USA.

There are two primary types of soft coat LowE coatings - high solar heat gain (HSHG) and low solar heat gain (LSHG).

Sputter coat LowE coatings are applied in a vacuum chamber. The glass is fed into the coating chamber where layers of metals and metallic oxides are applied to the glass atom by atom. The primary material for energy performance is typically silver, but titanium and stainless steel coatings are also available from various manufacturers.

High solar heat gain sputter coats have one layer of silver. This coating does an excellent job of blocking longwave infrared radiation - which is pretty much any heat that you feel other than direct solar gain - direct solar heat gain is shortwave IR. The High Solar Heat Gain coating also passes a good bit of shortwave or solar heat thru the coating, but not as much as does the hard coat.

Both the hardcoat and HSHG softcoat will pass more solar heat or shortwave IR into the home interior than will the low solar heat gain hard coat or soft coat. When the solar rays are perpendicular to the face of the window the solar rays, or IR radiation, will readily pass thru the glass and the coating and will warm the interior surfaces of the home.

The sharper the angle-of-incidence between the surface of the window and the suns rays, the less solar heat is passed into the home. In other words, when the sun is low in the sky, lots of heat can potentially be passed into a home in the form of shortwave infrared and when the sun is higher in the sky thus a sharp angle between the rays and the window surface the less shortwave IR radiation is transferred into the home. Obviously, this is an advantage in winter when the sun is lower in the sky.

In the north in winter this solar heat gain can be an advantage when using a high solar heat gain productbut with the caveat that this advantage only exists when the sun is shining directly on the window. When the sun isnt shining on the window there is no solar heat gain and there is more potential for heat loss from the home interior to the outdoors thru the window - even with the coating. But, ANY LowE coating is much better than having clear glass windows for energy efficiency.

As a general rule, the HSHG hard coat allows about 14% more solar gain than the HSHG soft coat. But, the HSHG soft coat has about 14% more insulating ability than the hardcoat.

Enough for now...this is long enough.

Questions are welcome.


clipped on: 02.12.2013 at 08:42 pm    last updated on: 02.12.2013 at 08:42 pm

RE: Instant hot water, large house tankless water heater (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: athensmomof3 on 02.07.2013 at 07:00 am in Building a Home Forum

We have a super high efficiency tank - think they are called condensing water heaters - and a recirculating pump. Love them. Low cost, instant hot water. Plus they reheat so quickly we don't ever run out.


clipped on: 02.12.2013 at 06:33 pm    last updated on: 02.12.2013 at 06:34 pm

RE: Need Help With Windows For New Home (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: oberon on 06.29.2009 at 09:00 pm in Building a Home Forum


That is an interesting question because some folks will suggest that triples are always better than doubles and some folks will suggest that triples are more of a gimmick and that the perceived energy performance advantage isn't worth the additional cost.

You have seen the rather long write-up I did on window efficiency versus wall insulation on the "Energy Efficiency - Don't Forget This!" thread. In that post I did compare triple with LowE and argon, to dual pane with LowE and argon, to clear glass dual pane. In that post triple did look like a pretty good idea.

To throw a few more numbers into the mix:

Assuming three different houses, identical except for window performance; and using the 200ft2 of total window area; and assuming windows in the three houses with U value performance of U.50, U.30, and U.15 or R2.0, R3.3, and R6.7 respectively.

If delta T = 10 (delta T = the difference between indoor and outdoor temps):

then (200ft2 / R 2.0) = 100 * 10 = 1000 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 3.3) = 60.6 * 10 = 606 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 6.7) = 29.9 * 10 = 299 Btu/hr

Considering the more robust delta T of 50 that gusfab used:

then (200ft2 / R 2.0) = 100 * 50 = 5000 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 3.3) = 60.6 * 50 = 3030 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 6.7) = 29.9 * 50 = 1495 Btu/hr

And a mind-numbing delta T of 100:

then (200ft2 / R 2.0) = 100 * 100 = 10,000 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 3.3) = 60.6 * 100 = 6060 Btu/hr
then (200ft2 / R 6.7) = 29.9 * 100 = 2990 Btu/hr

R 2.0 is the clear over clear dual pane
R 3.3 is pretty typical of a dual with Lowe and argon
R 6.7 is a very good triple with LowE on two lites and argon or krypton fill.

So again, based on numbers alone the triple looks pretty good - about twice as good as the double in this illustration.

But none of that really says when a triple may be become more cost effective than a triple.

Ultimately I think that it would depend on all the obvious factors such as location, orientation, insulation, cost of fuel, cost of upgrade, etc etc etc. With those numbers in place it could be possible to calculate the payback.

As a very general rule-of-thumb, I would suggest that if someone lives in northern New England, across the Great Lakes states, Minnesota, the Dakota's, Montana, higher elevations of Wyoming and maybe as far south as New Mexico and in any part of Canada, and Interior Alaska is a no-brainer, then triples might be a really good idea. My opinion only of course.


clipped on: 02.10.2013 at 04:47 pm    last updated on: 02.10.2013 at 04:48 pm

RE: Stair tread design - 21" run? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.25.2013 at 07:04 am in Building a Home Forum

This is an unfortunate error by the designer and/or the builder both of whom should have known better. The total rise should have been held to between 21" and 22 1/2" so the risers would be between 7" and 7 1/2" tall.

With a total rise of 24" your riser options are 4x6" or 3x8". Most building codes do not allow a riser taller than 7 3/4" but some jurisdictions modify the code to allow 8 1/4" risers. An 8" riser will work fine except for the very young, the elderly or the handicapped. Double handrails (one high and one low) on both sides of the stair usually remedies this problem.

What determines comfort for each option is the depth of the tread measured from face to face of the risers. You have arbitrarily selected a 10 1/2" tread which is what would have been appropriate for the 7 1/4" riser your designer should have specified.

For an 8" riser that tread dimension should be 9" and for a 6" riser it should be 13". At 10 1/2" each of the riser options would produce a theoretically awkward and possibly dangerous stair. However, since there are so few steps the danger is much less than for a full flight of stairs so choose which ever you like best but you should try each of them first. 8" risers are common in older houses especially for basement stairs and 6" risers are usually found outdoors.

A turn in the stairway will create an interruption in stride which will relieve the awkwardness of the stair.


clipped on: 01.27.2013 at 07:49 pm    last updated on: 01.27.2013 at 07:50 pm

energy efficiency specs

posted by: energy_rater_la on 01.23.2013 at 03:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

this is a short version of the spec sheet I give my
clients for building an energy efficient home.

lots of posts about lots of things here, but
over and over I read about things that could
easily have been dealt with in planning & early
construction phases of the build.
hopefully, this will help to bring some of these
to light now in the decision making phase of
your build.

things that don't 'show' are important choices.
efficiency costs are always upfront & savings long term.

Summary of Energy Efficiency Specifications

Air Infiltration Goal is .25 Natural Air Changes per Hour�heating. Gaskets such as Owens-Corning FoamSeal R or Dow Sill Seal between sole plate and slab is recommended. For 2nd story or bonus rooms, insulate and seal openings between floor joists, under walls with foam board sheathing material. Seal all windows and doors jambs with minimal or non expanding foam.

Seal all wire penetrations especially those through top plate.
Incorporate Airtight Drywall Approach throughout home. Run sheetrock all the way to bottom plate behind showers and tubs, seal plumbing penetrations under tubs especially on upper floors.

Minimize use of recessed lights or install Insulation Contact Air Tight (ICAT) lights. Existing recessed lights that are not air tight can be retrofitted with air tight trim kits. Get name brand and model numbers of lights to order trim kits.

Windows Double-glazed with Low-E glass and non-heat-conducting frames are recommended. Look for U-values and SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) of less than .3 for best performance in this area. Go to to learn more about window types and labels on windows.

DOORS Steel, polyurethane foam core (R 2.5 to 5.0) with high quality weather-strip. Solid wood door with double-glazing allowed for front door. Exterior-type foam-core doors with good air seals on doors to all attic spaces and knee-walls.

Walls 2x4 walls R-15 un-faced insulation with double sided 1" foil sheathing boards. 2x6 walls R-19 also with double sided foil sheathing boards.

Face unprinted side to exterior. Sheathing must cover top plate to sole plate. Seal all seams with foil tape. Use �" foil sheathing in between 2X headers instead of plywood. Insulate behind tub and shower units before installing units.

Ceilings R-30 minimum with a Radiant Barriers are recommended for this climate. Visit Florida Solar Energy Center�s web site for more information on radiant barriers

Seal and insulate attic accesses when in the conditioned areas. If attic staircase s in conditioned area, seal with attic tent or build a box with 2x12 with �" plywood for top, insulate and weather-strip to seal well.

Unvented attics Open cell foam. foam must meet R-value
code requirements. No quanitive values accepted.
foam must fill rafter bays and faces of rafters.
Foam must seal from roof to attic floor to create true
unvented attic. Full inches to be installed, not
'average' fill. No areas with 1/2" of foam to 9" of
foam to be averaged for overall R-value. Unvented
attic with foam is a semi conditioned attic.

Use only closed cell foam in floors for homes
on piers. install minimum of 3"

Use Energy efficient (O.V.E.) framing at corners and partition walls, See LaDNR Builder�s Guide To Energy Efficient Homes in Louisiana or Doug Rye video.

Continuous ridge vents ( with wind baffles) and continuous soffits vents. One square foot of net free area for every 150-sq.ft. of attic floor space, divided equally between ridge and soffits vents.


Duct Leakage and Insulation Duct loss must be no more than 5%. Before insulating hard pipe seal all joints & seams. Use Mastic or an approved UL-181 rated mastic tape, such as Hardcast #1402 mastic tape.

Have HVAC contractor size A/C system using Manual J. Design duct layout using Manual D.
Upgrade insulation values from a standard R-4.2 to R-6 or R-8 is recommended.

Water Heaters Compare Energy Factors (E.F.) Gas E.F. of .65 on a standard tank and E.F. of .95 on an electric standard tank.

Adding an insulating blanket can also increase the efficiency of water heaters.

Instant, tankless gas water heaters have higher E.F. of .85.
Electric tankless water heaters are not efficient.
instead look at standard hign EF electric tanks
The most efficient for electric Heat Pump water heaters (also called heat recovery or desuperheaters) provide 90% to 100% free hot water in summer months.

Cooling 14 SEER, 0.75or less Sensible heat fraction (SHF) mandatory minimum requirement. 15 to 17SEER is recommended.
Heat pump if all electric.

Two speed or variable speed system if over-sizing of tonnage.
Consider Zoned system versus multiple units.
700 sq. ft. per ton as opposed to old
rule-of-thumb of 400 to 500 sq. ft. per ton.

Bigger is not better!

Heating Gas furnace AFUE 80% minimum.
Efficiency on these units up to 94% (condensing unit with PVC flue).
For Heat Pumps specify a minimum of HSPF of 8.0. Variable speed heat pumps will have up to 9.0 HSPF.
(May change to higher AFUE with IRC code changes)

Lighting Use fluorescent lighting whenever possible. Compact Fluorescent in all fixtures like recessed lights.

IC Air Tight recessed lights are mandatory requirements. Existing recessed lights can be retrofitted with air tight trim kits available at lighting stores and box outlets.

Appliances Purchase Energy Star Appliances for high efficiency, especially refrigerators, freezers and water heaters which run 24/7.
Look for Energy Guide labels in the lower range for more efficiency.

Additional Links:
La. Energy & Environmental Resource Building Science Corporation
LSU Ag Center Hot Humid Climates Builder�s Guide
Energy Star Program


clipped on: 01.23.2013 at 09:04 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2013 at 09:04 pm

RE: The lowdown on Super White (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: karin_mt on 10.27.2012 at 03:17 pm in Kitchens Forum

I am also wondering about Macabus quartzite. I can't tell without looking at it, but I can tell you how to easily find out for yourself if you see a piece. Take a glass bottle with you when you go stone shopping. Find a rough, sharp edge of the stone. Drag the glass over the edge of the stone. Press pretty hard. Try to scratch the glass with the stone.

Quartzite will bite right into the glass and will leave a big scratch mark.
Any feldspar will do the same.

Calcite and dolomite will not scratch. In fact you will be able to feel in your hand that the rock won't bite into the glass. It feels slippery, no matter how hard you press.

PS - don't press so hard that you risk breaking the glass bottle. You shouldn't need to press that hard!

So - next person to see the Macabus quartzite or any other quartzite, please try this and report back!

Island - agreed that a bathroom could also spell trouble for marble. A bathroom might be a little friendlier in terms of acids and metal objects. But you make an excellent point.

Donaleen, what a beautiful kitchen you have! Your granite looks pretty close to actual granite, but it's a little hard to tell in the picture. I can say for sure that it is an igneous rock (formed from a liquid magma underground). Each grain is a different mineral. All the minerals together make up the rock. Some rocks are made up of bits of other rocks, but this rock is made up of mineral crystals - I hope that makes sense and if not I will clarify!

I can't see the stone well enough to say what's what, but most likely the bulk of that rock is feldspars of different sorts. The white, grey or green minerals are likely feldspar. Quartz grains look glassy and translucent - you can actually see into the stone with quartz. So you might have some quartz in there too. The black is either hornblende or biotite. If you post a closeup of it I can probably give you a clearer answer. But for all intents and purposes that's granite. And it sounds like it's a winner for you too, so that is perfect!


clipped on: 12.30.2012 at 09:22 pm    last updated on: 12.30.2012 at 09:23 pm

RE: Causing scratches, breakages on Induction Cooktop (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: kaseki on 12.29.2012 at 04:24 pm in Appliances Forum

a2gemini: The induction field passes through the silicon pad as if it were air. It would do the same for a sheet of veneer, thin plastic, bamboo, and generally anything non-conductive. However, whatever is in contact with the pan bottom has to be able to withstand the temperature of the pan bottom. Being cleanable is also useful, as is being inflammable. Availability is necessary. Silicon rubber meets these criteria.

The most convenient sources for cooks are manufacturers of silicon sheets for cookie baking. The sheets can be used whole or cut into smaller shapes, such as circles or squares. Use of small shapes leaves the hob circles visible or only interrupted, and reduces the amount of Ceram that is back heated by conduction through the silicon rubber. Radiant heating is still present. Still, hardly anything cooks on the slightly hot Ceram, further simplifying cleanup, already far easier than gas. Small shapes should be appropriate to support the weight of the pan being used. I have cut out five sets of three circles in four sizes that have so far proved suitable for a range of pan sizes.

Teflon sheet is an alternative to silicon rubber, but generally requires purchase from a plastics supplier. It is also likely to be more expensive. I have some I haven't tried yet for this purpose, but plan to do so for experimental hot searing on cast iron where the silicon rubber might prove to be at its thermal limit.



clipped on: 12.30.2012 at 08:43 pm    last updated on: 12.30.2012 at 08:43 pm

RE: Windows are in, I'm not happy. Advice needed. (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.10.2012 at 01:05 pm in Building a Home Forum

You could widen the total window opening 3 inches and put a stud between each unit. That would allow the headers to be quite shallow especially if designed by an engineer.

You could also drop the windows a few inches without needing to use safety glass (unless you want it for other reasons). Unless the window is adjacent to a door, the code requirement for safety glass is for panels larger than 9 sq. ft.; bottom edge less than 18" above the floor; and top edge greater than 36" above the floor.

I suspect you could more than double the glass height of the transoms using the same windows.


clipped on: 12.30.2012 at 08:03 pm    last updated on: 12.30.2012 at 08:03 pm

RE: Stair math (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: Renovator8 on 12.05.2012 at 06:55 am in Building a Home Forum

Stairs must be designed for a specific house design and in this case the OP has a serious space problem. Also, for a slow rate of rise stair the OP's floor to floor height would dictate a 6 3/4" riser with a 11 1/2" tread run which I believe is too slow for an active family but would be fine for a public use building or for the elderly.


clipped on: 12.08.2012 at 06:02 pm    last updated on: 12.08.2012 at 06:02 pm

RE: Stair math (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.27.2012 at 11:59 am in Building a Home Forum

A tread dimension can be arbitrarily selected using a tread to riser ratio but a riser must be an even multiple of the total rise of the stair so you only get a few choices.

For your condition you will have 3 choices and you should select them based on your preference for how fast you want the stairs to rise and then choose a tread dimension using your preferred rise to run ratio.

Using the Ratio I prefer, T=20-(4R/3), here are the 3 possibilities:

Fast Rate of Rise: 14 R @ 7.7" with 13 T @ 9 3/4" = 10-6 3/4 Total Run
(or 13 T @ 10" = 10-10 if the min. tread size is 10" - which alters the ratio slightly)

Medium Rate of Rise: 15 R @ 7.2" with 14 T @ 10.5" = 12-3 Total Run

Slow Rate of Rise: 16 R @ 6 3/4" with 15 T @ 11 1/2" = 14-4 1/2 Total Run

A different rise to run ratio might change these total run dimensions by a few inches but IMO would not improve the comfort of the stairs.


clipped on: 12.04.2012 at 09:44 pm    last updated on: 12.04.2012 at 09:44 pm

RE: Please help me with these dormers (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.20.2012 at 08:48 pm in Building a Home Forum

The dormers seem a little low on the roof and narrow as if it was an artist's mistake. Making them a foot wider and higher on the roof might be enough.

Where the 3 roofs come together will need an all copper cricket to avoid constant maintenance and leaks. Attached garages grafted awkwardly onto otherwise simple traditional designs will cause architects and archaeologists to some day think we worshiped cars.


clipped on: 11.20.2012 at 09:37 pm    last updated on: 11.20.2012 at 09:37 pm

RE: Three-sided ceiling beams? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Renovator8 on 10.27.2012 at 04:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

An old farmhouse would have real hand-hewn timbers and a Victorian or Colonial Revival house would wrap dimensioned lumber with finished boards. The bottom of the side boards might extend slightly below the bottom board. Trying to make boards meet precisely in a perfect edge is not recommended because wood will eventually move.


clipped on: 10.30.2012 at 08:38 pm    last updated on: 10.30.2012 at 08:38 pm

RE: Dry stack or grout stone siding? (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: AnnieDeighnaugh on 10.28.2012 at 08:07 am in Building a Home Forum

Make sure you have a weeping system behind the stone....

We went with a natural field stone that is cut thin for easier install. On the outside of the house, we went with tight joints...the grout still shows, but not much.

We are glad we went with the natural field stone as it blended seamlessly with the retaining walls that were built out of actual stone that was on site, dug out of our foundation pit. The foundation wall is the thin cut stone.

We used the same natural field stone, but in a different cut and in a dry stack look on the inside behind the woodstove.

Take a look and be sure you get what you want as when I first saw this stone, I hated it...but then I realized, it wasn't the stone, but the way it was installed. I don't like the look of fat grout lines...I like nice tight joints. But they are more expensive to do as it requires the masons to cut and trim the stones so they fit like puzzle're really relying on the artistry of the mason.

Take a look at for some ideas and you can see how the stone and the grouting work together to create the overall look.

Here is a link that might be useful:


clipped on: 10.28.2012 at 01:51 pm    last updated on: 10.28.2012 at 01:52 pm

RE: hardi plank siding vs. vinyl (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: AnnieDeighnaugh on 09.19.2012 at 09:52 am in Building a Home Forum

We used cedar impressions vinyl siding and love it for low maintenance and we like the color. Azek trim means no more painting. Only thing it's very expensive so we did it on 3 sides and went with a matching siding on the back side, but it's still good looking, IMO.

You can see the difference from the back corner. But we went with different windows as well, so the back side looks more contemporary than the front. But it still goes.


clipped on: 09.23.2012 at 07:06 pm    last updated on: 09.23.2012 at 07:06 pm

RE: induction cooktop suggestions (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: Ginny20 on 09.11.2012 at 03:25 pm in Appliances Forum

I do, I do! I have a KICU509XBL! I got it in 2011, soon after it came out. I never saw it in person until mine arrived. Like you, I could only fit 30", and I wanted a bridge burner. I have used the bridge burner, although I still haven't found a lightweight non-stick 2-burner griddle (I live in hope). The hob placement and hob size is good. I love that it doesn't have a rim - it's so easy to clean. The controls are easy to use. I chose it because it does not have large required "clearances," so it fit into the space right next to a cab, and I can have an implement drawer right under it.

Actually, I love everything about it except one thing. At the lower power levels - everything up to 6 (out of 9) - it clicks, quietly and rhythmically, as the magnets come on and off to regulate the heat. So the heat is not perfectly even, as it would be if KA used something like a rheostat, although this doesn't seem to affect how it cooks. It cooks great. If you have more than one burner going, they each click, and they're out of synch. I couldn't believe it could be right, so I contacted KA. The woman on the phone was very sweet, and she took a lot of time and found a field tech who said this is just how they work. She was very apologetic, but couldn't do anything. Also, my pans buzz. I have a few different types of pans, including Tramontina TriPly Clad, some Italian non-stick made for induction, Oneida non-stick, Simply Calphalon, and Fissler, and they all buzz more or less. So while the theory is that it's the pans that buzz, I think other people have the Tramontina on other cooktops and they don't buzz.

I was very upset about this clicking/buzzing thing at first. In part, this was because the first time I used the thing was at 6:30 am, and the noise was particularly annoying in the still of the morning. But I have gotten used to it. If the hood is running, you can't really hear it much.

In summary, the KICU509 is a great unit in many ways. Since it was the one that best fit my space and needs, as well as being half the price of the Miele, I would probably still get it today. But I wish I'd known about the clicking. If you can, find one and listen to it with one of your own pans on it. Better yet, bring two pans and run two burners in counterpoint (if you time it right, you can get a nice latin beat). If you live anywhere near Rochester, NY, you can come over and listen to mine.


clipped on: 09.20.2012 at 09:41 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2012 at 09:41 pm

RE: stacked crown moldings size (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: taggie on 09.19.2012 at 07:16 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our ceilings are also 9 foot. We did 4" furring strip and a 5" crown. Looks like this:




clipped on: 09.20.2012 at 09:17 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2012 at 09:17 pm

RE: Replace or repair Scotsman ice maker? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: lee676 on 09.13.2012 at 04:38 am in Appliances Forum

Not sure if it's worth repairing, as I don't know what the problem is or what it would cost to fix. I do know that ice machines haven't fundamentally changed over the last few decades.

I'd look first at the Manitowoc SM50 for its build quality, quietness, filtration, interior lighting, and neat crystal-clear octagonal ice cubes. It even has a button that will temporarily cease ice-making for 2 to 6 hours if you need perfect quietness, as it is designed for quiet office boardrooms as well as residences.

The Scotsman Brilliance or their somewhat less expensive DCE33 series, are good second choices. It too makes crystal-clear, nicely shaped ice, and like the Manitowoc has a convenient high-mounted ice-storage area, and is 15" wide. The Brilliance has a lighted bin.

Both of these should be reliable, especially the Manitowoc - these companies mostly build larger machines for commercial customers like restaurants, hotels, and bars where reliability is crucial. These devices need a drain; if you don't have access to one that's below the level of the machine, you'll need to specify the optional water pump.

Don't know much about the Sub-Zero.

I don't like the Whirlpool-built ice machines (a.k.a. Kitchenaid, Maytag, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, etc.) - small rectangular ice cubes and lower, harder to reach ice compartment. The Marvel also has an oddly low ice compartment, rather than at the top of the unit when you open the door. I don't have much/any experience with GE's, U-Line's or Perlick's ice machines, beyond that only U-Line has an undercounter refrigerator that makes clear ice cubes (24"w).


clipped on: 09.16.2012 at 09:23 pm    last updated on: 09.16.2012 at 09:23 pm

comprehensive indpendent window info

posted by: energy_rater_la on 09.14.2012 at 07:11 pm in Building a Home Forum

and[A Good Window Is Sti]

it isn't only about how the window looks.
condensation causes a lot of damage rotting
from sills down to sole plates.

best of luck. and remember if nfrc sticker
is not on brand you are another brand.


clipped on: 09.15.2012 at 01:13 pm    last updated on: 09.15.2012 at 01:13 pm

Tasks & Rationale (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: davidtay on 12.07.2011 at 01:21 am in Lighting Forum

The most important task to prepare for a continuous LED UCL install is to figure out how to fit the longest run of lights end to end under the cabinets.

If the cabinets have intervening fences/ stiles, it may be difficult (or impossible) to form a continuous led section. Notching the cabinets is difficult once they are installed.

Corners should have the bars fitted perpendicular to each other to avoid interesting shadow zones.

The next is to decide whether to use direct wire or low voltage. This is more a logistical/ financial than technical issue as it requires selecting possible candidates and pricing out all the components involved in setting up the system.

Low voltage
If the sections are too far from the DC power supply (usually misnamed transformers) and/ or power requirement for the section too significant, additional DC power supplies may be necessary.

A thicker gauge wire may also be necessary. Many sites have a calculator for figuring out the wire gauge for a given power draw.

The cost of the transformer could be a significant component of the system which could result in the low voltage system costing more than equivalent direct wire systems

Direct Wire
eW profile is supposed to be good for up to a section as long as 50ft.
Direct wire lights are probably easier setup for installs with multiple long sections to be controlled from a single switch since there is no need to compute the wire gauge to compensate for DC voltage drop and figure out the correct power supplies.

Some reasons to use direct wire
1. High output desired for multiple sections spread out over a large area/ where low voltage equivalents could become too expensive.
2. No desire to deal with low voltage calculation, DC power supplies which need to be located in an accessible location. Or greater familiarity with AC devices.
3. Possibly better component quality (more likely for Philips eW profile) and CRI.

Reasons to use low voltage
1. Lower output. Low voltage bars have smaller conductors and/ or heat sinking that would limit the ability to drive/ over drive the LED emitters. This differentiating factor is likely to become less important as the LED emitters become more efficient.
2. Small enough install where the costs between Low voltage and Direct wire (AC) are not too dissimilar.
3. Requirement for low profile (~ 0.5")
4. Exact fit requirements, curved surfaces - low voltage tape can be cut, some bars may also be modified.
5. More vendors, more options.


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 12:43 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 12:43 pm

RE: led ucl continuation (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: davidtay on 12.05.2011 at 01:38 am in Lighting Forum

The 2 main options
1. Direct wire 120V AC
2. Low voltage (24V or 12V DC).

Low Voltage UCL characteristics
a. The low voltage option requires a separate transformer.
b. The lights have typically lower profiles than the direct wire equivalents.
c. The bars may be cuttable unlike direct wire equivalents. This is true when low voltage LED tape lights are used.
d. The required dimmer will depend on the transformer used. If a magnetic transformer is used the dimmer needs to be a magnetic low voltage (MLV) dimmer. In small installations, a rheostatic dimmer may be used/ deployed. However, such dimmers do not save energy.
e. Most installations will be 60W or less for practical reasons.
f. The cost of the transformer(s) must be accounted for as it is typically a significant item.
g. The dimming load is (are) the transformer(s).
h. There are many vendors and a great variation in product quality and abilities (e.g. - flexibility, color rendition index or CRI, output, dimmability, wiring constraints - most are not forgiving of wiring mistakes)
i. Choices available - LED tape, bars, panels.

Direct wire UCL characteristics
a. The height is ~ 1 inch. The Philips eW profile bars are 0.88" tall, but the optional junction box could be an unwelcomed protrusion.
b. The light output could be greater than low voltage LED tape lights.
c. The dimmer for the Philips eW bars will have to be of the electronic low voltage (ELV) variant.
d. Longer runs may be possible than with the low voltage equivalents.

Common to both options
a. Having flat bottomed cabinets without intervening fences is a great advantage as you will be able to form continuous sections of illumination.
b. Separate sections of light bars should be wired in parallel so that problems in one section do not affect other sections. Consider the transformer as a simple junction box for direct wire configurations. Each section will be AC in the direct wire configuration (using romex 14/2 or 12/2)

Circuit Diagram

c. There could be interesting shadow zones depending on the relative position of the bars. This typically happens in corners where the light bars should be placed perpendicular to one another rather than on the hypothenuse. There could be a shadow zone between bars that have a significant spacing between the ends.
d. If the light bars / beads of light are not to be seen reflected off the countertop, the light output should be directed towards the backsplash. An alternative could be to use edge lit light panels which really is the equivalent of aiming the light at something other than the countertop.

Hope there's enough food for thought.


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 12:40 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 12:40 pm

LED recessed cans guide for kitchen ...

posted by: davidtay on 01.30.2012 at 01:27 am in Lighting Forum

A collection of tips/ answers
Since kitchens have higher lighting requirements, I like to use 35 lumen per sq ft as a rule to compute the number of lights. If there are additional sources of light that will be used, the output (lumens not watts) from those sources can be deducted from the total.

Placement/ layout
1. Cans should be > 24 to 30 inches from the wall (on center). Most countertop spaces have upper cabinets (typically ~ 12" deep) + crown molding. The edge of the can may be spaced ~ 12" away from the edge of the crown molding (if present or cabinet if there is no crown molding) making the average distance between 26 to 30 inches.

2. Assuming the need for a fairly uniformly lit space @ 35 lumens per sq ft, the cans may have to be spaced closer together - between 3 - 4 ft apart (if all general lighting is provided by recessed lights). A fairly regular pattern is preferable to a random layout.

3. The actual layout of cans will be impacted by the location of ceiling joists, HVAC ducting, electrical wiring, plumbing, ceiling height, fire suppression sprinklers and other obstructions above the ceiling.

The Cree LR6 series lamps do not dim as well as the later models (CR6, ...). ELV dimmers probably work better with LR6 than incandescent dimmers since the total load of the lights may not meet the minimum load requirement for the incandescent dimmer.

Dimmers such as the Lutron Diva CL dimmers work well. The max output is 95%.

Some Choices (in order of preference) and notes
Cree CR6 or ECO-575 (Home Depot branded CR6)
ECO4-575 (Home Depot branded Cree CR4 4" recessed light)
The above are only available in 2700k light color.

Cree LR6 series - including the LE6.

The Cree CR6 and LR6 lamps will not fit into 5" housings.

The standard LR6 behaves more like a surface mount than a recessed light as the LED emitters are close to the surface and the recess is shallow. Some may not like the amount of light spillage (standard LR6).

There is a higher output version of the LR6 that has a much deeper recess.

To prevent the Cree lamps from falling out, the 3 prongs have to be fully extended and a slight clockwise twist made when push installing. The slight clockwise twist will ensure that the prongs are fully extended.

The Cree lamps are currently the best available today (2012).

Sylvania RT-6, RT-4. The lights could be easier to install than Cree lamps as they utilize the torsion spring mechanism. However, the lights do not look as pleasant as the Cree lamps.

The Cree and Sylvania lamps do outperform 26W CFLs (and incandescents) in a standard recessed can in terms of light spread and output as the standard bulb in a can solution traps a significant amount of light. The Cree and Sylvania recessed lamp solutions referenced above have all the LED elements facing outwards so that the effective light output is higher.

The CRI (Color Rendition Index) of Cree and Sylvania recessed lamps > 80.

There is no warm up time required for Cree recessed lamps, unlike CFL light bulbs.

Most recessed lighting is used with flat ceilings. Sloped ceilings would require special solutions such as the LE6 or some other form of lighting (i.e. -non recessed lighting).

Some common objections to recessed can lights stem from
1. looks and performance of traditional can lights (standard bulb in a can)
2. swiss cheese effect from too many holes.


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 12:35 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 12:35 pm

RE: How to create a wall of window without braking the bank? (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: lzerarc on 04.24.2012 at 08:48 am in Windows Forum

for a 22' foot span, steel will be the most cost effective and smallest you can go. engineered wood prices (glulams, paralams, lvls) costs would be greater then steel by quite a bit, and a much larger (wider and deeper) member. However with a 22' span, your bending forces in the center will be dictating the size, so its going to be deep no matter what you do, unless you are under a full gabled roof. The most cost effective way is to break up the span with small posts. Several 4x4 posts spread accross that distance will greatly reduce the header size and the cost. However then you would not be able to achieve that commercial look you are after. You would look more like lkbum picture posted above.(however that is placed under a gable so loads are minimal).


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 10:07 am    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:07 am

RE: How to create a wall of window without braking the bank? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: lkbum on 04.23.2012 at 12:28 pm in Windows Forum

A word of caution that may be applicable to your situation. On New construction I had the desire you did. My house is in a fairly rural county with usually less stringent building requirements. After my first iteration (which was basically a wall of glass), the county required a PE (professional engineer)load analysis which forced me to scale back considerably. I could keep the wall of glass but would have had to have almost all steel structure to handle wind loads. see photo
There are continous 2x6's from the floor to ceiling (6 of them laminated together) between the doors and fixed panels. Along with the normal headers over the doors.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 10:06 am    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:06 am

Marvin Integrity Windows - Pics and review

posted by: lkbum on 04.11.2012 at 01:17 pm in Windows Forum

We are doing new construction on a south facing lake lot. Lot's of windows and a very agonizing search for windows. After hours and hours, we decided on Marvin Integrity (wood/ultrex). We wanted low maintenance, but did not want clad windows.

We purchased the windows from AVI in Atlanta, our sales rep was Peter Diehl. Absolutely the best sales and service. We went through 20 to 25 iterations and he never lost patience. We had a minor problem once installed and Peter arranged for a Marvin Rep to come by who fixed them, no questions asked. The Marvin Rep was also first class (used a laser level to check installation and identify the problem).

This is "high end" construction and the windows really add to the project. The windows have been in for 8 months and stood up well to construction traffic/hazards. I would reccomend these windows and Marvin to anyone.

Interior shot of great room windows - double outswing french with side panels, flanked by fixed panels 8' tall

Same windows from the outside

Same windows with doors open - 5' wide opening

Same doors, different location on house

Double casement with grill at top

Double casement with grill in brick

Outswing french - no side panels

Casement with arch top

Casement with archtop exterior

Simulated Grill with spacer (the spacer makes these look really good)

Stained casement

One last shot of the great room


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 09:40 am    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:04 am

How to create a wall of window without braking the bank?

posted by: daisy71 on 04.23.2012 at 09:52 am in Windows Forum


I am working on our new house and I have 2 walls in the great room that I envision as much as possible covered in glass. Walls are 22' long each and have 12' ceiling. I originally looked at Marvin Ultimate Lift and Slide patio doors and received a shocking quote so I evidently need to revise my plans...I am trying to find windows and doors that have very little trim. I don't need to have a lot of opening, a double door opening on each side would be fine. And I am fine with adding transoms to add to the height but my biggest problem is to find windows that don't add a lot of trim in between each. I am trying to get as much glass as possible and as little trim and wall as possible.Does anyone have suggestions?? I was thinking 2 picture windows with a double swinging patio doors in the middle but it seems that if I chose this option I can't avoid a bunch of trim/all in between each.
Thank you for your help!


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 10:02 am    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:02 am