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Insulation For Cold Places.

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Old 04-18-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
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Default Insulation for cold places.

So we're considering building a Yurt. Well, we've looked at all the other options for a summer house/overnight shelter/place to learn more about living off grid and the local planning laws got there first: We're allowed one building of 12 cubic metres (Think about six phone boxes in a block: big enough for a lawnmower and a barbcue and other essentials of suburban life, but not much use for a summer house or similar so we can stay in the garden overnight) Wheeled vehicles (Caravan, shepherd's hut) are the same but with the twist that the 12 cubic metres will be measured from the ground, not the floor of the vehicle, so all the space between ground and floor is part of your 'allowance'. There isn't a caravan in existence that low.

Yurts, though, are considerd a tent and we can put that of as a 'temporary' dwelling, which will hopefully be ignored, and we cn move it if not.

So first question: what do people use for

insulation

? we're in an area of short, dry summers and cold, dry winters with temperatures often reaching minus five degrees or lower in winter, (That's "very cold" degrees Farehnheit), so

heating

and

insulation

will be essential for year-round use.

We would also like it to look 'tidy': we're in a very expensive region where every second car is a Mercedes and we'd like to show that a self-made shelter can be cost effective and look nice, 'professional', even.

I'm guessing we would make an inner cover to go over the frame, then an insulation cover, and then the outer waterproof canvas, but what to use?

And while I'm here, how do I make sure there isn't a draughty gap at floor level?

All suggestions welcome...

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

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We would also like it to look 'tidy': we're in a very expensive region where every second car is a Mercedes and we'd like to show that a self-made shelter can be cost effective and look nice, 'professional', even.
And therein lies the rub. We're on our third (and to be honest they are the winners) supplier in our quest for quality, appearance and professionalism. We started local (we were in Scotland at the time) and used a yurt maker in Cumbria. A fine fellow indeed, but the canvas looked shabby and rather tent-like in its ill fitting form. It also did not wear well and started to look worn after only a few years.

So we went further afield and chose a tent / marquis maker from the Czech republic. Much nicer material (Sunbrella) and the structure looks much nicer. But (and this is a big but) the wooden structure is not strong or particularly well thought out. It is already needing remedial action to deal with an alarming crown twist that occurs with high winds. Nothing that a quick cable tie-down can't fix, but clearly the basic design is not good IMHO.

So, despite my misgivings at paying for rather high freight charges and overcoming my 'buy local' instincts we bit the bullet and bought 4 yurts from

Pacific Yurts

in Oregon.

In the words of one of our German staff "the other yurts are tents, the

Pacific Yurts

are houses". The quality, attention to detail and finish are superb.

Germans are fussy, but so are Swedes You're not going to be able to put together something by hand that will give the finished appearance that you'll get from a Pacific Yurt.

I've been messing about with yurts for 10 years now, and have built lots of things by hand (including many kinds of insulation) and seen many, many home builds. Even if you can get the woodworking right (which is not all that hard for a skilled carpenter) you will find it difficult to create good looking covers without either professional help or buying from a manufacturer IMHO.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

I have a Pacific Yurt too and love them. There are others that compete with them on this level of design too. The type of insulation PY uses is basically like bubble wrap, wrapped in aluminum foil. It is great for radiant type heat, like coal/wood stoves. I was able to stay toasty warm at -20F this winter but if I lived there year round, I would expect to burn through quite a bit of wood.

You can further insulate, but be warned that the more you insulate, it tends to take away from the beauty of the yurt. People insulate the walls to the point where you can't see the lattice, or they use materials that though they may work great, they have little aesthetic properties.

What were you planning on

heating

with?
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Old 04-20-2013, 01:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm happy for the Yurt to look 'home made'. The local culture does rather assume that everything should be done by 'Specialists', and us normal folk shouldn't even try andything without a three year training course, so one of my goals is to show it's possible to make things and try things out.

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Originally Posted by Jafo View Post

You can further insulate, but be warned that the more you insulate, it tends to take away from the beauty of the yurt. People insulate the walls to the point where you can't see the lattice, or they use materials that though they may work great, they have little aesthetic properties.

What were you planning on heating with?
Point taken. I'll have to have a look about and see what is available locally for thin insulation similar to people have described. I was planning ti make a thin layer of insulation between the canvas and an inside cover that would just be there to look nice (and for me to get practice on sewing before dealing with the full canvas)

As to heating: not sure yet. Some variation on a wood stove with a chimney. I wondered about a Rocket stove as small wood is plentiful and having the thermal mass would be handy.
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Old 04-20-2013, 02:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

Further to the last post, a comment on another thread got me looking for emergency disaster blankets. Didn't find any but this came up: Thermal Insulation Foil Roll 600mmx8m - Loft Insulation - Insulation -Building Materials - Wickes

Does this look familiar or useful to anyone? If so I'll set about finding what the German equivalent is...
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Old 04-20-2013, 02:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

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This looks like bog standard Reflektix / Astrofoil / Airtex foil insulation. There are many manufacturers. I've used it many times, be prepared to buy lots of aluminium tape to get it all set up.

It provides a fair amount of insulation, but no sound barrier. It also has no thermal mass so the yurt will cool down instantly your heat source stops emitting warmth.

I supplemented it with some rockwool type glasswool (Knauf) and it works well.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

Many thanks to everyone for the info. It all makes sense and we're slowly figuring stuff out. The insulation foild seems to be availabe here, so I'm looking for some felt or felt like material to add to the outside of that to make an insulating layer. This seems to exist, the question is how easy it is to find something that does the job and isn't heavy or really expensive.

I understand the point: if I want a 'professional' looking yurt I'll need to get a professionally made one. I guess I'm aiming for a happy medium: something that is unique and made by us, but hopefully maade competently enough that it looks like we've got some idea what we're doing.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

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so I'm looking for some felt or felt like material to add to the outside of that to make an insulating layer.
If you don't have a damp-proof membrane (such as Tyvek) between the felt and the canvas it WILL get damp, and you will have mould problems as a result. Been there, done that
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

Okay, so from inside to outside:

1: Cotton cover to look nice.
2: reflective silvery cover to reflect heat back into the Yurt.
3: felt or other material to trap ambient warmth.
4: "Damp Proof" (Plastic?) cover so the felt doesn't go mouldy.
5: Canvas outer cover.

This is getting complex. Can the reflective cover be between the felt and canvas to form the dampproofing?
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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Default Re: Insulation for cold places.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy_in_Germany View Post
Okay, so from inside to outside:

1: Cotton cover to look nice.
2: reflective silvery cover to reflect heat back into the Yurt.
3: felt or other material to trap ambient warmth.
4: "Damp Proof" (Plastic?) cover so the felt doesn't go mouldy.
5: Canvas outer cover.

This is getting complex. Can the reflective cover be between the felt and canvas to form the dampproofing?
It does get complex. To be honest I'm not convinced that felt is ever going to work in a Western European (read: damp) climate. Mongolia is much drier.

The foil works fine, and some other non-organic insulation such as rock/glass wool will work. But as you add each layer it starts to get heavy, bulky and difficult to hang it all into place without thermal bridges (i.e. leaks) and possibilities for water ingress.

The simplest solution is the foil in my experience. It doesn't rot, is light and works reasonably well. If you really want to have more insulation you're probably better off putting in rafter supports (also known as snow and wind kits) on the inside of the khana and then insulating between them. You're well on your way to creating a cottage if you do this and will start to lose some of the benefits / charm of the yurt IMHO.
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