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EcoMotive

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Hello Everyone

I'll use this thread to upload and describe pictures of my in-progress aluminum soffit solar thermal collector that I will install on the South wall of my detached garage. The overall design is inspired by Gary Reysa's passive solar shed heater that can be viewed here.

I decided to go with soffit because it's cheaper than double screen, easier to work with and looks tidier. Although it's going to be great to have a free and clean source of heat for the garage, a large portion of the motive behind this project is to sway my wife to let me build one on the house. As such, the appearance of the collector on the garage is very important.

Please feel free to ask any questions, request more details or give your comments.



This is the south wall of the garage where the collector will go. The scaffolding is set up and I will be stripping off the siding and installing the collector when the weather becomes favorable.



This is the wooden frame of the soffit absorber. It is made from lumber that has been ripped into 3/4 by 3/4 strips. The joints are shot together with 18 gauge brad nails. While the soffit is being installed, the frame is shot on to the plywood to hold it square. Afterward it can easily be pulled off the plywood and the nails clipped off.



The soffit is being installed on the frame. The frame is approx. 48'' wide so a 10 foot piece of soffit yields approx. 2.5 spans of the frame. The 1/2 pieces are joined in the middle as shown.



Soffit is not normally joined this way. I had to make my own joint by cutting off a bit of the edge as shown. It now makes a joint similar to that of siding.



This picture shows how the modified soffit joint fits together over the middle "joist" in the frame.



Two completed absorbers; one viewed from the front and the other viewed from the back.



Here's a test fit of the absorbers inside the collector's frame. My little helper is there to make sure I always have my tools on hand. Note that the final installation of the absorbers will be with a tilt towards the glazing at the top.



And now a test fitting of the glazing. I'm using "Tuftex" brand polycarbonate panels. I bought three pieces of 12 feet each and cut each one in half. I have 1/2'' EMT ready to use as horizontal glazing supports but I haven't gotten to that point yet.



The whole frame is pre-drilled with 3/4'' holes so that the lag bolts can be countersunk into the frame. Afterwards, 3/4'' wooden plugs will be used to conceal the bolt heads. Hopefully, this will make the assembly and installation of the frame quick work.



A 2 by 8 is used as a drip cap on the top sill. It has a 4:12 slope. The 2x8 was not quite thick enough to cover the 2 by 6 frame and the thickness of the glazing. I'll offset the drip cap 1/4'' from the wall and use caulking and flashing to keep the water out of there.



Another detail of the drip cap. Remember that the frame is not assembled. All the pieces are just laid in place so the joints may look a little sloppy.



Looking at the collector from the top-down. There is a 6'' gap between the absorber and the bottom sill to allow room for the inlet ducting and the air deflector.



I'll line the back of the collector with 1'' polyisocyanurate in an effort to make the garage more insulated. Sometime in the future, I will try to add codeboard to the outside of the house and garage and this way, the collector will already be done in advance.



And finally, we have my happy little girl who should be excited about our lower carbon footprint.

I'll keep adding more pictures as the project develops. Please leave your questions, comments and suggestions!

Lance in Newfoundland



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Scott Davis

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Reply with quote  #2 
Really nice project and documentation Lance!  Thanks so much for all your great input!  Please keep us updated as you continue!
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Silverback

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Reply with quote  #3 
Very nice project. Hope you post on the final installation also.
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SolarInterested

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EcoMotive
... Sometime in the future, I will try to add codeboard to the outside of the house and garage
I had to google that. Is this it "CodeBord®" (link)?

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EcoMotive

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Reply with quote  #5 
Yep that's it. It comes in 2 feet by 8 feet tongue and groove sheets that you put on the outside of your exterior sheeting. The idea is that it provides a continuous sheet of insulation that isn't broken every 16 or 24 inches by studs. In addition to the extra R-value it provides, it reduces thermal bridging by the studs. Thanks for your question.

Lance in Newfoundland

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EcoMotive

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Here's an update on the new soffit collector. It's almost ready for installation now.



Here's the frame fully painted and assembled. At this point the joints are fastened together with 1/4 lag bolts and the paint touch-ups are done.



The 1 inch polyisocyanurate insulation is fitted in. Three sheets is enough to do this collector and the 4 x 6 copper/aluminum DHW collector planned for later this summer.



The three absorbers are laid in place for now. There is enough room left at the bottom for the 4 inch fishlock collar for the air supply. What is not finished yet is the aluminum baffle that will go in front of the air inlet to deflect the air up towards the absorber.



The aluminum soffit is sealed all the way around the absorber frame using black silicone caulk. When the absorber is permanently installed a bead of caulking will go between the absorber frame and the collector frame. This leaves the air no choice but to go through the absorber, instead of around it.



Two horizontal glazing supports run along the collector. they are made from 1/2 inch EMT.



Detail of one of the notches holding the 1/2 inch EMT to the frame. It took some fancy chisel work to get that to happen.



And finally the glazing. I'm missing the vertical and horizontal closure strips but you get the idea. Unfortunately the glazing is very dusty so the collector's true finished beauty is yet to be revealed.



A close-up of the top cap. It's secured to the top sill of the collector using metal roofing screws, the kind with the built-in EPDM washers.



Another detail of the top cap. You can see the roofing screws securing it down. You can also see the heads and washers of the lag bolts countersunk into the collector frame. Later on, I will use pieces of a wooden dowel to plug the holes.

...And that's it for now. The next step is to make up those baffles out of roll aluminum and install them to the frame. I should be ready to install the collector on the garage in a couple of days. However, I may have to wait until the next long weekend just in case I run into a lot of installation delays. Also, it's still really cold here and I'm reluctant to work on the vinyl siding until it gets warmer.

The wife hasn't seen the collector yet. And I'll be very surprised (and worried) if she won't be convinced by now to let me build one for the house.

Happy heating

Lance in Newfoundland








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Scott Davis

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Reply with quote  #7 

Great stuff Lance!


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ChrisJ

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Reply with quote  #8 
Lance you do very nice work!!

How are the air inputs and exits being done? A manifold of some kind?

Chris

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EcoMotive

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Reply with quote  #9 
Thanks everyone for the kind words. Chris, I'm planning on having a separate inlet and outlet for each bay of the collector. Each inlet and outlet will just be a simple hole straight through the wall of the garage. As you can see from the picture of the interior of the garage, there's a lot of stuff to contend with on the South wall. A separate inlet and outlet for each bay is the least intrusive way to go. Each bay will also have it's own fan and control, since not all bays will be active at the same time, due to the greenhouse's shadow panning across the collector.

Lance in Newfoundland

Attached Images
jpeg garage_south_interior.JPG (182.74 KB, 373 views)


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solardan1959

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Reply with quote  #10 
Lance,
   Have you thought about what your going to do to prevent reverse thermo syphoning yet?
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