Klearwall Doors

I’ve had some questions about my Klearwall Doors.

 I love them, the only problem is that they are stronger that American frame walls.  We toured Ireland two years ago and I noticed all the new construction used masonry construction..  Our basement door is in a poured concrete wall, the other three are in normal framed walls.  There is just a difference closing the basement door, a very solid feeling, like closing a refrigerator door, but the frame wall (The only way to describe it is) just a little “Soft” feeling. They work seal 100% the locking system is unbreakable. If I were building again I would use the doors for sure, but just beef up the wall around the door.    The doors have a number hinge adjustments and there wasn’t a manual when we bought them, but they sent a Tech out after the house was finished to do the final adjustments.

One Year Update

Last Winter

We’ve been in a year now.  What I can report is that the house lives up to ALL my expiations.  In winter there are no cold spots or drafts of chilly spots.  In 40f outside nighttime temps we may not run any heat at all.  We find the TV and appliances is enough to heat the great room and kitchen to around 68-70 degrees. and over night with our body heat plus Joe’s (our Border Colie) the bedroom temperature will go up, about two degrees over night.

On cold days and nights 20 to 40 the one mini-split in the great room is enough to heat the whole house (a 9,000btu @ 30.5SEER unit). When it’s below 20 in the afternoon, around 4:00PM as the sun is setting, like most house you feel a chill. So we run the bedroom mini-split for about two hours, then the one mini-split in the great room handles the hole house for the rest on the time.

Now, we didn’t have a very cold winter, I don’t think it ever got down to 10 degrees.  Our total energy costs for, Dec, Jan, Feb & Mar was just $383.  In the old house the EL cost was $583 plus about $3000 in propane.   A $3,200 savings just in winter.

I do need to build little shelters/roof for the mini-split’s condensers to keep the snow off.  One big snow storm buried them.

The hot water heater runs on  “heat pump” only mod, we’ve never had to let heating elements run.

Spring & Fall

The house just holds it temperature and nothing else needs to ne done,


The house holds it’s temperature, cold or warm.  So if its 68-70 in the morning just close the windows and it will stay there. If it goes into the upper 80s the house may gain a few degrees.  My may kick the great room mini-split on. With the outside temps at 90 plus we will run the great room mini-split up to around 10 PM, then off for the rest of the night.  We’ll run both the bedroom and Great room mini-splits when the humidity get uncomfortable .   The bedroom one for just about 2 hours.

In April our electrical bill was $6.08 with no credit generated, In May, June and July  the Electric charge was $2.89 (the grid linked fee) and we generated a 394 kW credit. I expect this month and maybe Sept the same. Plus We’ve created 4 SREC’s so far. I should get about 7 for the year.

I have a generated and a usage electric meter.  Both were installed late November when I was allowed to active the solar system.  So the generation was at it’s lowest point: last half Nov, Dec & Jan.  But in the next few days the generation meter will pass the usage meter.

HERS Rating

Because our life style doesn’t fit the model our HERS rating was only a 16.  My belief because there is only two of us living in the house our usage is below what the model predicts.  Since NJ is a net meter state (they pay us retail for our excess electric generation)  they’re not happy if I over generate to much. So I tried to match our solar system to our usage.  With the numbers I’m seeing I believe we will be very close to Net-Zero by our year end, Nov 30th.  I have the room for 4 more panels if I want to bust the out put a little or add an electric car.


So the house was 100% success.  My first goal was a comfortable house. And it really is in all aspects. The second goal was the energy savings and it looks like it will be close to a Net-Zero, thus around a $5,000 per year savings over out last house.

LED’s will give you a Brain Freeze

LEDs will Give you Brain Freeze.


First LED really are a good thing,  a great thing.  If I were to have put in incandescent light bulbs in the house (over 60 bulbs) I would have over 4,000 watts in light bulbs.  But with LEDs I have less than 400 watts of light bulbs.       For you electronic guys    P = I X E     or  to get current      I = P/E     That’s  33.3 Amps vs  3.3 Amps of current to run the lights. A 90% reduction in El usage.

That’s the first part of the Brain Freeze.  You can send your kid out to replace an incandescent bulb. “Hay Kid go get me a 60W bulb”.      Done.       So you think you just have to buy a LED that is listed as a 60W equitant.  Not really.  Just go to Lowe’s or Home Depot light row and take a look, Brain Freeze.

LED’s have many options:

First the old friendly Watts, but there isn’t really a direct match even though the manufactures puts on the label some numbers. Most 60W replacements are around 8Ws but I’ve gotten equivalent light (lumens) out of 4.5W LEDs.

Second: Lumens, which is a measurement of the amount of light a bulb puts out.  But I haven’t found that a 60W putting out 800 lumens.  A 6-8W LED puts out about 800 lumens but I find them brighter than incandescent.  In a fixture that I’d put two 40W bulbs I only pit one LED equivalent.  A 4.5W LED.

Third is the color:  or kelvin (K).  The K measurement of an LED is between 2500K to 6500K.    This is a pure personal choice. 5,000K is considered “Daylight”, the sun at high noon. But I find this light way to bright indoors.   An incandescent bulb is around 2,800 and a florescent bulb around 4,500K   .

Fourth is projection: Yea Projection options. That is how the LED transmits it light.  An incandescent projects its light evenly around the bulb, but with LEDs there are many different ways a bulb will projection the light.

Fifth the some LED shouldn’t be in contained covers.   It’s written on the box.  I have heard they may burn out fasted or my (mini) explode.

Sixth is a replaceable bulb or fixed.  Some fixtures have non replaceable bulbs. At first thought with a 20-25 year projected life who cares.  But if you have 4 like fixtures and in five plus years one goes out can you get parts or will you have to replace all 4 fixtures to keep them matching.  Also with a replaceable bulb in 5 years a 6w bulb might be replaced with a 0.5W. If you bulbs are replaceable you can easy upgrade.

Socket: I never had thought about the size of a bulbs socked.  Edison 27 or T10 or  ???????

My Experience:

The watt comparison is really of  little help, but I’ve found a 60W equivalent LED produces more light that a 60W incandescent bulb.  I don’t care want the Lumens are.  I’d say about (unscientific)  20% more light. Example the second floor hall lights.  Two bulbs in each fixture, I would had put two 40W incandescent bulbs, but with 2 40W equivalent it was way too much light, so I cut down to one bulb in each fixture.

Color is personal.  We have 10 high hat fixtures in the kitchen, so I went to Lowe’s and bought 6 different bulbs and put them in the high hats and had an onsite test.   We like 2,700K bulbs, 3,000K are OK, but nothing higher. A couple of the closets have higher, the electrician installed them, I can tolerate them in a closet. I think the 2,700K just has a nice warm effect. Now for a shop light a 4,500K or higher, the light is bluer but I think it better for working with. 

 Projection just depends on the fixture, and what kind of effect you want.

 Fixed vs replaceable.  We went with 95% replaceable for the reasons I point out above.  It one set of fixtures I wanted a certain effect and could only find it in a fixed bulb fixture

Prices are dropping like crazy.  I bought a big bunch on 40W Philips  equivalent  from Lowe’s on sale for under a dollar.  

As for lasting 20 to 25 years w can only wait. I had one Halogen type replacement o the range hood go bad in 3 weeks.  But the others are all working.



A Performance Report

Been working in the house the past few weeks doing all the little things that makes a house a home and livable.   And of course very busy, I think I’ve only taken a day off in the past 5 or 6 week, and haven’t taken the time to read “The How Too”  to finely operate the mini-splits and the ERV.  But have been playing around with them anyway.

The past couple of days we’ve gotten many small and large tasks off the todo list, one was painting the basement floor. Yesterday morning the house had a chemical smell which I attributed to the  floor paint.  So I upped the ERV to high , but for a test only turned on the mini-split in the family room. Once, and quickly the house got to 72 degrees and it stayed there all day..  That one mini- split (9,000 BTUs) maintained 72 degrees on the hole (1640 sqft) first floor all day with the outside temperature around 94 degrees.  The chemical smell was gone by lunchtime, even though I painted another section of the basement.. OH, Yea the little mini-split took the humidity out on a very humid day.

We prefer open windows with the smell of fresh air to A/C normally.  Joan noted at the end of the day how comfortable the house was and how fresh the air was.  As some one very famous once said   “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together”

This morning with the A/C off all night and the ERV on high, the house was at 76 degrees outside air temps over 85 and the incoming air from the ERV was at 74 degrees.

Secondly: that basement. I’ve been working in it a number of days and have been think how warm and dry it felt. So this morning I shot temps on all walls and many services.  My readings were between 71 & 72 degrees F.  I’ve no way to test the humidity but it just feels very dry. When you walk down the steps it just doesn’t feel like you are walking into a basement.  Also the GE GeoSpring hot water heater has been running taking heat out of the basement.  Maybe I should get a wet bulb and test the humidity.

There is a lot more research to do once we get in, and I get time to read the manuals. And figure how to fine tune the system.



Getting Close

It’s been about a month since my last entry.  I don’t think I’ve taken a day off in those 30 days other than last Sunday.  Just to much to get done. To many inspections and details to follow up.

The outside is near done, less landscaping. The sidewalks will hold off to go through a freeze and thaw cycle over winter. Grass is in and coming up.  All the mechanicals installed and running.  It’s purely amazing how easy the mini-splits cool the house.  The other day the Great Room mini-split had a problem, so I just left it on fan, and put the master bedroom unit on 72 degrees at 9:00 in the morning, and turned the ERV on.  It got to around 94 that day. At noon I shot some temps: the MBR was 72, as expected, The rest of the house was around 74. By 4:00 PM the hole first floor was 72. That’s only one 9,000 BTU unit run, that’s 0.75 tons of A/C for you old schoolers. The first floor is 1640 sqft.

We will need to experiment of how to balance the house out between the mini-splits and the ERV.

The deck is complete.

Inside in 97%, the kitchen cabinets and counter tops are  is in waiting the doors and drawer fronts.   everything is painted but the stairs to the second floor (Wednesday).   I’ll have to post interior photos soon.  Joan has a specular color scheme

Tomorrow is the inspection for the NJ Zero Energy Ready Homes program.

Here are some photos of the outside.  The house faces east and these were taken in the morning sun.  The front porch is a great place for a morning coffee.


Outsite Done (1) Outsite Done (3) Outsite Done (4)

Catching up

I’ve been neglectful to this blog.  Just been to busy with the house and to tired when In get home to update the blog.

Well we are on the homes stretch, the drywall is done, and painted, hard wood floor in, master shower walls installed, doors and trim.  Starting  to work on closet shelves and final details.  The water service trench and pipe is in to the street (hooking up maybe an issue), electric in and house “lighted up” (as the electric company installer said) the septic system is in and inspected. The appliances have been delivered.

Just waiting for the kitchen cabinets, then the counter tops can be templated. The plumber says about one day of work left and HVAC has a day.

The rock piles are moved, 9 truck loads of topsoil was delivered Friday.  I’m guessing about two week to get the U&O inspection.

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Bad News

Bad news.  The guys are installing the doors, but once they are done we will be idling.  The next step is to pour the concrete porches, but because of the cold snap we can’t.  The finished concrete has to have an over night temperature above 32 degrees to cur, and in the 10 day forecast there are none.  We need the porch floors in to set the height of the siding.   So the siding is on hold and the close cell foam doesn’t like the low temperatures either.   Better to just wait for the January thaw.

The Shed arrives

Today our garden shed arrived. In the fog, but ahead of the pending rain.   A better driver the me, he backed up the 300 foot driveway. Then the big challenge getting up from the parking area pad to the shed pad. There was some mud and a ditch to cross.  The driver was amazing,  pulse the trailer had a fifth wheel and a built in motor to move it sideways.  Then the thing they called a mule got it to it’s final position.    See the photos.

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