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Daox 09-11-08 12:33 PM

The sunroom
Below is my sunroom. Its a fairly good sized room at 32x12' and I am dearly hoping it will help heat the house a good extent this comming winter. ATM it looks as it does below. I'm looking for some tips on how to make it a more efficient heat source. The blinds are a kind of double air pocket type so they do have some insulation value and I have been putting them down at night now that its cooling off. I know it really needs more thermal mass added to it and that'll happen when my cousin moves in. However, I am wondering what other people have used to add thermal mass to their rooms? What have you found that works good for spreading heat from room to room?

GenKreton 09-11-08 05:38 PM

I'm not sure I have any real good advice for you but from a thermal studies point of view, air tends to only lose its convective properties when the trapped air mass is at a maximum of 2 mm in width between the solid surfaces. Then it has only a purely conductive component to its heat transfer. This is obviously a gross generalization but it holds true mostly. I guess my point is, the blinds won't help or hurt you.

if you are serious about using the room for heat I wonder if you could get a covering that would alter the light color but reduce the radiative heat leaving the window. There are a ton of ways to have a covering that has great absorptivity and low emissivity. Does a solution like this exist?

insaneintenti0n 09-12-08 06:25 AM

I use my poorly insulated front porch to a similar extent. It's a ~10'x15' room. With a decent door (might have to change it more to an 'exterior' door at some point) and new double pane with argon gas, blah blah blah window between it any my living room (see below for living room side pic) The room gets the sun a good portion of the day, so during early winter, it stays closed up, and when i get home from work, I'll open the front door, and let the heat seep into the living room. It'll usually raise the temp a few degrees. I never really thought about how to make it HOTTER in there.

During the summer, this room stays sealed up, except that I'll leave the windows open, so it's only as hot as the air outside, no hotter (well kinda).

Binger 09-17-08 08:42 PM

nice half stack.

the house I grew up in had a sunporch that my parents used for storage. I just remember it being super hot in the summer and super cold in the winter because it had no insulatin in the walls.

Is the one attached to your house insulated? If it keeps the cold out I think this could be a pretty efficent way to add some heat.

Binger 09-17-08 08:44 PM

hey doax...Which side of the house is the sunporch on? looks like its at a nice angle to add some solar panels if it gets enough sunlight.

Daox 09-17-08 09:32 PM

The sunroom is on the south side of the house. Solar panels may be possible there, but there is a gigantic tree right on the left side of the outside picture that blocks at lot of sun. Great for the summer and winter passive solar, but bad for solar panels.

bennelson 10-02-08 09:07 AM

Definately check to see what you have for insulation in the walls and roof of the sunroom. Also, are they good, tight, modern windows, or old drafty ones?

What is the sunroom over? Is it over basement, crawlspace, or concrete slab? This will effect how it heats.

Your cousin adds thermal mass? How much does he weigh!?!?!?

A relative of mine has an old house with a "sunroom" on it which was originally a front porch. It is poorly insulated, and has nothing under it. They just close it off completely in the winter because it would otherwise suck heat from the house.

Could you see a woodstove in your future? Not sure how close to town you are, but a stove in the south-east corner of the sunroom would put the chimney on the prevailing downwind side of your house.

If the sunroom is on a concrete slab, run a wood stove continuously for about 3 days, on the 4th day your floor will be totally warm all day whether you run the stove or not. It's a neat feeling.

Daox 10-02-08 09:49 AM

The sunroom is probably the newest part of the entire house. It has been added on within the last 10 years. It is 2x6 construction with standard fiberglass insulation and polystyrene (not sure on the thickness) on the outside. It has blown in cellulose insulation above it, and a insulated floor with an unaccessable crawlspace under it. It has with hydronic in floor heating.

My cousin will add thermal mass to that room in the form of their furniture and other things. :p I just want to come up with a way to get more thermal mass into the room without making it painfully obvious.

Ideally, I'd love to take out a basement wall to add a access to the sunroom. I would fill the crawlspace with jugs of water and insulate it if need be. Then, I would add vents and circulate the air from the sunroom through the crawlspace to add lots of thermal mass.

toyobug 10-03-08 12:09 PM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 495)
Ideally, I'd love to take out a basement wall to add a access to the sunroom. I would fill the crawlspace with jugs of water and insulate it if need be..

would the jugs of water be the "thermal mass" you are referencing? Never heard of that before, that's why I ask.
How difficult would it be to take out a basement wall to access that area?

Daox 10-03-08 12:26 PM

Yep, water is a great way of storing heat as it can store a lot of heat per volume. See the wiki here for info on thermal mass.

I'm guessing it would be a pretty large pain in the butt to cut an access hole into the crawlspace. My basement walls are probably 1.5-2 feet thick and is a fieldstone basement (stone + mortar). I believe I'd need a jackhammer to get through the wall. If anyone has any ideas I'm all ears.

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