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Muskoka Residence - Mechanical Details
  This home's mechanical system combines forced air circulation with solar energy with energy from a wood-fired boiler in a hybrid system which uses a tank with multiple heat exchangers. 

The hot water storage tank contains 450 liters and has three internal heat exchangers: 

  • the lowest heat exchanger, 24 ft long of double wall construction, is connected to the solar heat source, a solar collector on the roof
  • the middle heat exchanger, 20 ft long, is connected to the wood stove heat source
  • and the top heat exchanger, 30 ft long, delivers on-demand heat to the forced air distribution system for space heating. 
A high efficiency propane-fired DHW tank provides back-up to the hybrid system.

The residence combines solar and wood stove energy gains with the double drywall thermal mass. The output of the hot water storage tank is integrated with tempered incoming well water. There are two wells on the side of the tank, one for a temperature gauge and the other for an aquastat. Solar energy feeds the lowest heat exchanger because energy from the sun is not as hot or as dependable as heat from a wood-fired boiler.

The wood-fired boiler is used when the outside weather requires space heating indoors. There is increasing interest in hybrid systems combining space and water heating.

We've addressed the building load with conservation from a manufactured "single wall" stud (R50), a continuous air and vapour barrier (0.85 ach @ 50 pa) and high efficiency fiberglass windows. The windows are triple glazed, low E, argon-filled with non-conductive edge spaces. The hybrid system is incorporated to supply the heating.

The  forced air circulation is distributed through a "with-in" floor system: air is forced through the floor cavity by using open web manufactured floor joists.  This results in both radiant floor and ceiling heating with forced air distribution that also circulates ventilation air from a heat recovery ventilator.

Further environmental loads are reduced by the use of low energy appliances and lighting, low flow fixtures and appliances, low tox construction materials and finishes.

An alternative septic system was considered that provides better treatment of the waste from the building, but at twice the cost it proved too expensive.