Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More Cold Weather in the Yurts - Reflectix to the Rescue (?)

As I suggested in a previous post, I was very recently prepared to install some insulation between the canvas and felt of our yurts to try to deal with the fridgid temperatures we have been encountering most mornings now.I did a bit more research online (bless Google!) and found at least one person who suggested that this was not very effective. They didn't really outline why they were so disappointed with it, but it hinted at the lack of continuity between one panel and the next, unless I could somehow foam the seams. This was not on.

Going back to things that work though, I recalled our research on the different yurt companies and their methods of insulation. To my mind, the most common insulation offered by modern yurt manufacturers is Reflectix.

I recalled that when I was inquiring after space blankets for the ceiling Maier Hardware had suggested that they did have Reflectix, so I called them and quickly determined that they also had the best pricing per roll.

I bought their entire stock of two rolls and yesterday we set about installing them in the large yurt.

First we pulled all our items away from the walls of the large yurt. This was a great chance to sweep and dust the floor in behind!

 

Then I pulled both rolls around the perimeter. Every three or four sections I had to pull the wrap out into a loop, as I found the friction to be too great to just pull the roll around the entire outside wall in one go.

One roll I pushed down to the floor, then notched the wrap at each junction of the frame so that we could push the insulation an inch or so down below the outer edge of the floor.

The next roll I pushed up to the rafters, again notching the wrap so that it overlapped onto the ceiling about six inches. I was able to tuck the ends of the wrap under each ceiling rafter, and they nicely bridged between the wall wrap and the space blankets already up in the rafters.

With a bit of work and co-operation Donna and I were then able to run a strip of metallic tape around the seam. I resorted to regular duct tape to seal the insulation to the door frames, mostly to block the draughts that Donna had detected in these zones.

I would say that this will also act as a bit of a vapour barrier now, so the felt shouldn't be quite so humid. I like to believe that this will also help with increasing the felt's ability to insulate. Dry insulation has to be more effective than wet, doesn't it?

With the leftovers, I insulated both of our doors. They were just a single layer of planks, and you could literally see light through some of the cracks in them.

Cutting for the windows was a challenge. We had to find a compromise between access to the zippers and maintaining the structure of the bubble wrap.

We ended up cutting panoramic views that involve us folding the wrap up, and then the felt down. We've lost about 60% of the window space, but we feel it was a decent balance, especially considering that we are favouring our temperature comfort over our view.

We all agree that we now feel like we're living in some sort of science fiction spaceship. It reminds of me 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Kenny thinks it is just a regular flying saucer.

It sure seemed like we noticed a difference - we didn't put in a fire during the day at all yesterday. In the evening it only required a small firing of the stove to have us all agreeing that it was much warmer than usual in the yurts - both yurts even! It really appears that the heat from the larger yurt is better able to migrate to the bedroom yurt thanks to the added insulation.

This morning it was cold again, but that was after not having put on a fire for over six hours. Donna sent me to warm things up, and it took about a quarter of the usual time to do so. In half an hour the large yurt was quite comfortable - that normally took about two hours!

So anyway, after a sample size of one evening, night, and early morning, I am feeling very hopeful that this new experiment will be just what the doctor ordered.

As a side benefit, I can't help but think that this layer of protection will also help keep down some of the lint in the yurts - the felt is great to look at and natural and all, but it did constantly shed small fibres that we were picking off the floor, ourselves, and our plates.

I will consult with Donna at breakfast to see if she thinks that we should apply the same treatment to the bedroom yurt.




 

8 comments:

  1. Hi I am living in a yurt and we are looking into different ways to insulate for the winter. Any updates on the effectiveness of Reflectix? Thanks! -Tom in High Point, NC

    ReplyDelete
  2. It worked very well, but it was still a tough winter. We wouldn't have managed to stay in the yurts without it, but even so, it was below freezing many mornings. At least our water didn't freeze.
    Do you have a blog or anything? I'm always interested in hearing about interesting people, and yurt people often qualify!

    ReplyDelete
  3. We are currently looking into Yurta and were quite interested in your details about how you added insulation to your yurt. Things that were concerning us were the mention of humidity on the felt insulation as well as the fibres coming off.
    We are looking at purchasing a 21 ft Yurta this year but will only be using the yurt as a cottage property (year round). It will have a wood stove and we thought about putting a little kitchenette in it. Maybe not, with the thought that it could get too wet inside.
    Putting the inside layer of insulation added another barrier that looked effective for you but I wonder if this is just the same as buying another yurt product that has a more plastic/vinyl/ bubble wrap insulation. What are your thoughts now that you have tried this and had a winter in it? What would you recommend? Are you still happy with YURTA?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We never really were too worried about humidity with the felt - condensation only occurred after we put in a vapour barrier, and fortunately we put it on the warm side of the walls, so it wasn't the felt that carried the brunt of any wetness. In cases where the felt did get wet, it seemed to suffer no ill effects.
      I can't speak to other companies, but the combination of felt and reflectix seems to me to be superior to just a single layer of either. I would still be happy to recommend Yurta products.

      Delete
  4. Thanks Stephen. Did you purchase the 4 season thickness for felt that had a reflective side to it? What material did you use for your outerwalls? They have 2 options: a cotton weave and a more premium cotton blend that costs a bit more. We are considering putting a second yurt on (down the road) and will put a second door on to accommodate this. Do you feel that the heat from your main yurt spreads enough to warm the second yurt? Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we did purchase the four season option with the reflective side. The reflective layer seems to be wearing off where the windows are located - the flexing of the felt whenever you roll it up and down over the windows, combined with sunlight, likely weakens it at those locations. I don't recall if we had a choice in the type of cotton for the outer walls.
      The second yurt will definitely be cooler than the main one, but it's doable - a fan to blow air would certainly help! Also, a good stove will probably make a huge difference in comfort. Don't cheap out like we did!

      Delete
  5. What is the wear on the outside of the yurt like for you? (I figure you have had it up for 4 years now?). Are you finding that you need to do a wash on the outer side due to discolouration/mold or mildew growth? We will be located in the forest, north facing on a lake, so not a ton of direct sunlight. We will invest in a good stove for sure.Thanks for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have not done any maintenance to the outside at all. The colours have stood up great, as well as the fabric. There is discolouration on the window flaps, I don't believe it's mildew, but just rather from water naturally dripping onto the fabric at those spots.
      The ties for tying up the windows have dried up and crumbled, but only after about three years. The plastic windows themselves are a bit of a consumable - the sunlight breaks them down after a year or two, depending on whether you leave them in for a longer period of time or not.
      The doors will need to be repainted this summer I think. We have just finished selling the yurts to a local person who I believe plans on repainting them extensively to suit their own tastes.

      Delete