Courtyard wicket gates

Courtyard wicket gate half open

View East Through Wicket Gate

This small courtyard has been described on its own page: “A Heat-control Courtyard”.

Built to help control the indoor climate, it is enclosed by solid walls and solid gates made of a sandwich of fibre and polystyrene.
At times when free circulation of air is wanted, the gates can be latched open. That has the disadvantage that dogs and small children can pass in and out.
I have now made the control of air separate from the control of traffic by adding a wicket gate in each gateway.

The first photo (above) is a view of the courtyard as one would enter it from the west. Both main gates are open. The west wicket gate stands partly open, and the east wicket gate is closed.

Courtyard wicket gate bolted open.

West solid gate closed and wicket gate bolted open.

The second photo, taken from just inside the courtyard, shows the west main gate closed to prevent the flow of air. The wicket gate is fully open, as it would be in that case, secured there by its drop bolt.

Courtyard seen through the east wicket gate

Courtyard through east wicket gate

 

 

 

 

In the third photo, the courtyard is seen through the open east main gate and the bars of the closed east wicket gate.

These photos were taken on the 1st of August 2017 at 10:30 am. They show the courtyard receiving sunshine that passes over the roof of the house, as it does during winter mornings. Some sunshine is direct, some reflecting diffusely off the wall, and some reflecting brightly off mirrors of aluminium foil.

Two thermometer screens can be seen in the third photo. I am monitoring temperatures to find if the courtyard is affecting the indoor climate. As an experiment, I keep the main gates open or closed in alternate months. When gates were open in a particular month of the first year, they are closed in that month of the next year.


The wicket gates are made of welded, pre-galvanised steel tube in the style “Pool’nPlay Flattop”, powder-coated in white. They were supplied and installed in July 2017 by Bluedog Fences for $1793.

House June warmth profiles: III

Part III: Daily temperature cycles, east wing

Graph showing the daily temperature cycles for five days at mid-winter

This five-day period was a testing time for the unheated solar-passive house. Days were at their shortest, some nights were frosty, and overcast persisted for two days. It fell within a cold, wet, and cloudy winter.

This post is about the single-storied east wing of the house. It is the main part of the house, with most of the clearstory windows.

Back to Part I: Average temperature values.

Back to Part II: Daily temperature cycles, west wing

Observations

View of the house from the street

House From the Street

In this wing, seen on the left in the photo, five thermometer stations define a profile in height. They are:

Subsoil in the heat bank beneath the house;
On the floor slab;
On the room wall;
In the clearstory space;
OUTDOORS, in a Gill Screen, 1.5 metres above the ground and eight metres from the house.

During the five days I made 84 observations at each station at intervals as shown. They define the daily temperature cycles. I observed the amount of cloud in Octas (eighths of the sky) at the same intervals.

Table of east wing temperatures.This table lists for each thermometer station the five-day values of the average, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and the temperature range.

The daily cycles

Subsoil

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House June warmth profiles: II

Part II: Daily temperature cycles, west wing

Graph of temperatures in the house west wing in mid-winter

I report here on the thermal performance of a solar-passive house in Manilla, NSW, during five days at the winter solstice of 2016. The house is described briefly in a Note below.
This post is about the 2-storied west wing of the house, which is less successful. The more successful east wing will be considered later. An earlier post showed that average temperatures decreased with height. Go to Part I.

This five-day period was a testing time for the unheated solar-passive house. Days were at their shortest, some nights were frosty, and overcast persisted for two days. It fell within a cold, wet, and cloudy winter.

Observations

View of the house from the street

House From the Street

In this wing, seen on the right in the photo, five thermometer stations define a profile in height. They are:

Subsoil in the garden near the house;
On the downstairs floor slab;
On the downstairs wall;
On the upstairs wall;
OUTDOORS, on the wall of the upstairs veranda.

During the five days I made 84 observations at each station at intervals as shown. They define the daily temperature cycles. I observed the amount of cloud in Octas (eighths of the sky) at the same intervals.

Table of west wing temperaturesThis table lists for each thermometer station the five-day values of the average, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and the temperature range.

The daily cycles

Subsoil

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House June warmth profiles: I

Graph of house temperatures versus height

Where is the warmth in a house?

People are building houses that should keep warm in winter with little heating.
Some parts of the house will stay warmer than other parts. Which parts? How warm?
Answers are not easily found. I hope this temperature record from a house with only personal heating may be useful. This was a time when the house was under extreme stress due to cold weather.

Over a five-day period in winter 2016, I read thermometers frequently at a number of stations around the house. I have selected those stations that form profiles from top to bottom of two wings of the house: the two-storied west wing, and the east wing that is one-storied with a clearstory.
To find how my house differs from yours, see the note below: “Key features of the house”.

Selected thermometer stations

In the West Wing (two-storied)

OUTDOORS, upstairs veranda (+4.7 metres);
Wall upstairs at head height (+4.2 metres);
Wall downstairs at head height (+1.5 metres);
Floor slab surface downstairs (0.0 metres);
Garden subsoil at -0.75 metres.

In the East Wing (single-storied)

Clearstory space at +3.5 metres;
Wall in the hallway at head height (+1.5 metres);
OUTDOORS, in a Gill Screen (+1.5 metres);
Floor slab surface in the en-suite (0.0 metres);
Solid “heat bank” beneath the floor slab (-0.75 metres).

Part I: Average temperature values

SUMMARY RESULT
In the ground under the floor slab the temperature would be just warm enough for winter comfort. Above the floor slab, the higher you go, the colder it gets.

Results

The graph above plots mean temperature against height above the floor slab. (The mean temperature is the time-average over the five days.)

Comparing east wing, west wing, and outdoors

The single-storied east wing was several degrees warmer at all heights than the two-storied west wing. The east wing has advantages: thermal mass, perimeter insulation in the footings, less shading, and a more compact shape.
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Ventilation louvre hassles

I specified wooden louvre blades

This louvre window installation is described in this earlier post.

Photo of louvre for night purge

Louvre now fitted with glass blades

The automated louvre window that I specified for my system of summer cooling by nocturnal purge had wooden louvre blades of western red cedar 14 mm thick.
I specified wood because I preferred that this louvre should not be transparent, as I did not want to see through it and I did not want it to admit light. I took the risk that wooden blades might not seal as well as advertised.
Other posters on the ATA forum (see link below) doubted that the blades would seal effectively. They were right.

Failure of the wooden blades to seal

When the louvres were closed for the first time, there was clearly no seal at all. The rubber seals fastened to the blades failed to meet the matching blades, leaving gaps of up to 2 mm admitting daylight.

Attempts to rectify

I wrote a letter of complaint on 18/5/2016.
Rectification work on warranty first revealed faults in the gallery of gearing at the side of the window. However, when the gallery was replaced the gaps remained. The photo shows daylight visible on the right side through three of the gaps.

Photo evidence that louvre does not seal

Wooden louvres showing daylight

As the blades did not meet their specification, the company replaced them without charge. When these new blades did not seal any better, the company offered (on 10/10/2016) to replace them with aluminium blades, 6 mm thick. I reviewed the specifications of their blade options, and decided that this was not acceptable. The aluminium blades had little thermal resistance (U-value: 6.55). Glass blades 6 mm thick, with a low-e coating had much higher thermal resistance (U-value: 4.40), almost the same as the wooden blades (U-value: 4.39). The company agreed to provide these low-e glass blades. (In fact, this had been their original suggestion.)

Sealing of glass louvre blade gaps

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House in a cold October

This October has been very cold. That has kept indoor temperature
in this solar-passive house almost too cool for comfort. I wore warmer clothes and opened windows to admit warm air.

Indoor/outdoor temperature scatter-plot.

The climate this October

The graph shows (on the x-axis) how cold this October [in red] was: the coldest of the new century.
Here on the North-west Slopes of NSW, October warms and cools more from year to year than other months. It is the month most affected by climate cycles such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). As shown, October warmed by one degree each year from 2011 to 2015, then cooled by nearly six degrees from 2015 to 2016.
ENSO followed almost the same pattern, but October 2012 was warmer than October 2013.
For five months, world temperature has also been down: much lower than it was in the record-breaking months of February and March 2016. (HadCRUT4 Global monthly near-surface data set (Column 2 in the linked table.))

Indoor climate this October

As shown on this graph beginning 2005, the indoor mean temperature in October months has varied with outdoor mean temperature. This coldest October outdoors (15.9 degrees) was also the coldest indoors (20.8 degrees). (But see Note below.)
October is the final month that I keep the house in its winter warming regimen. In 2014 and 2015 it had been almost ideally warm, but in 2016 it was just above the comfort minimum. Since this figure is just an average, there were times when the house was too cool for comfort, especially in the mornings.

Successive unfavourable months this year

As in other seasons, I intend the indoor climate to be comfortable through each spring season.
As I posted in “Hard Winter for Solar-passive” this very cloudy winter had reduced solar gain, making heaters needed much more than usual. However, the mean indoor temperature at winter’s end (August) was normal, although the heat bank was 0.7 degrees cooler than normal.
In September months, the warmth indoors still depends on solar gain through the north windows. This time,the sky continued very cloudy, and the daytime temperature was a record low value. As a result, the indoor temperature was 0.9 degrees down and the heat bank 0.7 degrees down.
By October, there is no solar gain through the north windows: warmth is gained from the surroundings in daytime by conduction, convection and radiation and retained by closed curtains at night. This time, both day and night temperatures were three degrees below normal, reducing daily heat gain and increasing nightly loss. As a result, the indoor temperature was 1.2 degrees down and the heat bank 0.9 degrees down.

What I did

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Porch is a Breezeway or a Sun-trap

Photos show awnings arraged for summer and for winter

Porch Awnings in Summer and Winter

This porch, which is a sun-trap in winter, is converted simply to a shaded breezeway for summer.
The porch is an upstairs outdoor room, open on three sides, at the west end of my house. With a Tallowwood deck and steel balustrade, it could be called a verandah or a balcony. I like to call it a talar, although it is not as grand as the talar of the Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan.
For the colder part of the year, from March to October, the talar awnings are arranged as in the right photo. I fasten down the canvas awning on the south side to stop drafts, and I roll up the awning on the west side so I can enjoy the views. On sunny winter afternoons it is pleasant to have a late lunch there, with temperatures in the high twenties, several degrees warmer than the maximum in the thermometer screen.
For the warmer part of the year, from November to February, the awnings are arranged as in the left photo. The awning on the west side is fastened down against the intolerable heat of the afternoon sun. That also keeps the heat off the west wall of the house. The south awning is raised, to allow air to flow through, from south to north. When there is a breeze, it can be comfortable to sit on this porch even on very hot days.
By the use of cheap canvas awnings, this porch can make outdoor living pleasant in months when the climate here is too cold or too hot for it.