Systems: Kawartha Highlands’ Electric Systems

  • The fan coil for our Mitsubishi HRV system

  • Some serious ductwork!

When our blog last left this project, things were a little bit bleak.

Roadblocks like our building team’s lack of experience in energy efficient building design were making it difficult to get the reality of the build to match its sleek intelligent design. We think honesty is an important virtue for a company like ours, that takes pride in all the work it does. So, to be honest – this project was a punishing one.

However, as they say, the show must go on. And so it did.

 We began to make all the necessary moves to get this project back on track. It’s been gruelling, but we’re slowly moving forward.

As for the house’s systems, they are pretty standard… for a Solares project, that is! The house will be powered entirely by electricity, which will allow its planned 60 – yes, 60! – PV solar panels (40 on the roof of the house, and 20 on the detached garage and workshop) to make back any energy used, which is the whole point of Net Zero living.

The home is heated and cooled by an air source heat pump by Mitsubishi, which we have ducted to spread hot and cool air throughout the entire house. Domestic water is heated with a standard electric tank, and the house doesn’t have a fireplace, wood, gas, or otherwise. The house’s air-tight envelope and abundance of insulation will mean heating and cooling loads will be minimal.

The Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) is tied to its own, separate ductwork, to ventilate the house while retaining freshness and moisture from the outgoing interior air.

Something a bit unique to this project are its short and shallow pot lights.

Seriously… these pot lights are THIN!

Normally, pot lights that are installed in the ceiling break though the polyethelyne sheets that typically act as air and vapour barrier, causing leaks and holes and potentially compromising the ceiling’s air tightness.

So in order to avoid air leakage, pot lights need to sit in “boots”, which are taped onto the polyethylene sheets in an attempt to create an airtight seal and maintain the integrity of the ceiling’s air barrier. However, it’s a messy process and is usually unsuccessful in creating a truly airtight seal.

In this house, the air/vapour barrier isn’t a polyethylene sheet. It’s a ½” of OSB taped together, as Oriented Strand Board was the only material able to carry the weight of our vast loads of cellulose insulation. Using OSB instead of plastic sheets meant that this pot light “boot” approach would have been much more difficult, as we would’ve needed to cut through the ultra important layer of OSB. Besides, scratching this technique was just as well, because of its inability to create a truly airtight ceiling. We didn’t need any more air barrier stress!

 Instead, we strapped the OSB with 2×2 and installed super shallow LED pots directly onto the OSB, leaving it completely intact, which saved us the grief trying to patch up any holes that the pot lights would make.

There you have it, Kawartha Highlands Net Zero’s systems in a nutshell! Next time we’ll be talking about the home’s lovely interiors, and hopefully by that time the air barrier’s hiccups will be far behind us.

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