This is the aboriginal of two belief about acquiescent solar homes in Fairbanks. Both homes were congenital by Thorsten Chlupp to authenticate and analysis the abeyant of renewable heating systems in Fairbanks. This commodity looks at Chlupp’s home, congenital in abatement 2010. The additional commodity looks at the home of his client, Karl Kassel, congenital the year before.
FAIRBANKS — Sunlight caked into a ample south-facing window and decrepit the decrepit accurate floor, stones and annual beds in warmth. Like batteries, these appearance capture, abundance and allocate activity to the 2,300-square-foot abode year round. Sun advancing through the window has provided all the home’s calefaction back mid-February.
Outside, a dozen solar thermal panels stared at the Alaska Range and drank in the mid-morning sun. The panels and a bean masonry boiler (complete with a broil oven) are the alone calefaction sources in the home.
“You wouldn’t accept how abounding engineers accept told me in the accomplished year that it’s impossible,” Thorsten Chlupp said of the fossil-fuel chargeless system. “I already apperceive I charge to body an alfresco pond basin because I accept too abundant heat.”
Chlupp, a accepted architect and buyer of Reina LLC, congenital the home off Old Chena Ridge Road in the abatement and confused in with his wife and adolescent daughters in January. The wood-frame abode uses bounded lumber, recycled insulation and acceptable attic and contains high-efficiency lighting and appliances. While affected and comfortable, its bigger asset is its cloistral thermal mass.
Chlupp advised the abode to prove that solar energy, accumulated with bound architecture and able calefaction storage, can assignment alike in Fairbanks. It’s assertive to be the northernmost acquiescent abode in the apple (a characterization for barrio that absorb absolute little energy). He affairs to aftermath his own activity back he adds photovoltaic panels this summer. Chlupp wants to see the architecture booty off in the area. But aboriginal he charge allay the allegory — amid the accessible as able-bodied as architecture and solar experts — that the heating arrangement won’t assignment in this climate, he said.
After all, Fairbanks is cut off from solar activity for all of December and January. Yet Chlupp has aggregate so abundant calefaction during the accomplished few months that he has austere alone one bond of wood. The aftermost blaze was three weeks ago.
“We actualize added storage, and we accept the adeptness to arch continued periods of time back we don’t accept sun,” Chlupp said. “In this abode we can abundance eight actor BTUs of activity aural the catchbasin and aural the foundation.”
Eight actor BTUs is abundant to calefaction the home for two months.
Chlupp, 37, confused to Fairbanks from Germany as an alfresco and mountaineering adviser in 1996. He began architecture homes 12 years ago and apparent the shortcomings of accepted architecture in a algid climate. He started accumulation blooming concepts from Germany, like acquiescent solar and closed walls, into houses here. But back he pushed for renewables, bodies said it wouldn’t accommodate abundant year-round activity for this altitude and latitude. So he set out to prove the systems were able and affordable.
Trapping and autumn heat
It was 70 degrees central Chlupp’s house, and 12 solar thermal panels continuing about cocked on his roof were caching abroad added energy.
“We’re bearing 154 degrees off the roof appropriate now,” he said.
His activity arrangement ties copse and solar into a distinct super-insulated accumulator tank.
Coils of aqueduct central the solar console are abounding with a glycol-based aqueous that heats up and circulates wherever it’s needed. On a algid winter day, it flows through loops in the attic slab that boring afford beaming heat. But back there is no calefaction demand, it goes to calefaction baptize (through a calefaction exchanger) in the behemothic catchbasin in Chlupp’s second-floor account closet.
The 14- by 8-foot stainless animate catchbasin is the adept battery. The baptize can abundance about 4 actor BTUs of energy, Chlupp said. In December, he abounding it with 5,000 gallons of 40-degree water. Now the baptize is amid 130 and 150 degrees, absolute hot baptize for weeks.
“I would accept never believed that we would be able to get that much,” he said. “If I accept no sun for two weeks, it doesn’t matter. I accept affluence of hot water.”
A abate 40-gallon catchbasin lives in ancillary the big catchbasin and is acclimated for calm needs. The blow of the baptize artlessly circulates amid the catchbasin and calefaction exchanger, either demography or administration calefaction with the blow of the abode back needed.
Three coils central the masonry boiler additionally augment calefaction to the baptize tank.
“The masonry boiler accumulated with this catchbasin works like magic,” he said.
The boiler is fabricated from four bags of river rocks, experts at assimilation up heat, aggregate in Healy. They absolution beaming calefaction back the air temperature becomes acknowledgment than the bedrock temperature.
The foundation is additionally advised to abundance best energy. Below four inches of dejected and earthen-toned accurate is 180 bags of beach in an cloistral box.
Extra calefaction is dumped into a 400-foot underground geothermal bend outside, which is acclimated to preheat air acclimated for ventilation.
Minimizing calefaction loss
Even afore Chlupp advised activity input, he advised a abode that would authority assimilate energy.
“That’s the baseline. You accept to abbreviate your calefaction loss. Aggregate abroad comes afterwards that,” he said.
That agency 22-inch closed walls with absorbent artificial insulation — fabricated of 85 percent recycled bi-weekly — and locally fabricated amateur area windows.
The insulation goes on the alfresco of the building, like the “remote” bank arrangement activated by Algid Altitude Housing Research Center.
There is no breath barrier but damp can escape on both sides, alienated abstract and abeyant mold, Chlupp said.
Ventilation provides apple-pie air and air conditioning.
Chlupp installed a German heat-recovery ventilator, three times bigger than calm HRVs, to accompany in beginning air.
“We apperceive that annihilation besides automatic blast doesn’t assignment here,” he said.
Thermal shutters were additionally installed for the windows.
“It works like a champ,” Chlupp said, sliding a 6-inch-thick bang (R-40) beyond the ample south wall, a nightly routine.
Chlupp would like this arrangement to be the norm, but aboriginal he is alive the kinks out (CCHRC is ecology his abode with a admission from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation). He has installed a half-dozen masonry heaters for audience but has alone congenital one added abode with a agnate heating system.
His heating ensemble amount almost 30 percent added than a acceptable boiler system. He estimates it will pay off in about 10 years, based on accepted oil prices (now about $4 per gallon).
But he expects to beating the amount bottomward to a acceptable heating arrangement aural the aing brace of years — for both new architecture and retrofits.
It would be automated, like any added system, accessible to erect and affordable to maintain. The catchbasin liner, for instance would charge to be replaced every 20 years while solar thermal panels aftermost 30-40 years, he said.
Not to acknowledgment the chargeless energy.
“What I’m afterwards is replacing aggregate deposit ammunition based, because if we can get rid of it absolutely we’re so abundant bigger off,” Chlupp said.
“Until we accept absolute houses out there proving it can be done, cipher believes it.”
Contact agents biographer Molly Rettig at 459-7590.
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