Video Tour: Tiny Home Teaches Builders About Improving Efficiency

Video Tour: Tiny Home Teaches Builders About Improving Efficiency

Smart technology and a unique design help this 420-square-foot home feel large.

The energy-efficient, automated tiny home by Shelter Dynamics was a big attraction at this year’s PCBC. “The Arc house is a demonstration, but it’s also a direction of smaller, more functional housing,” says James Gregory, founder of Shelter Dynamics. For example, the company was able to provide close to 100-square-feet of additional living space just because of the home’s arced shape.

And the scope of home technology really escalates this tiny home to the luxury level. “We have an AT&T smart house system. And inside the walk-in closet, there’s a modem that will connect all of the different elements here: security cameras, windows, doors, the heating and air conditioning and also the water valve,” says Gregory.

Energy generation and storage also play a major role in this tiny home.

RELATED: Tiny Home Makes Big Impact in Boston

Take a 30 Second Preview! (More In-Depth Coverage Below)


Smart Tech and Off-Grid Solar

The Arc House was designed as a net-zero, off-grid tiny home.

“We have 10 solar panels on the roof, producing 2.6KW, and that’s enough to power the building throughout the day,” says Neil Maguire, CEO and founder of Adara Power.

The Arc House under construction.
The Arc House under construction.

Adara Power produced the lithium-ion battery system in the Arc House. This system is unique in that it has a built-in inverter, which helps builders avoid purchasing additional solar equipment. The built-in inverter and centralized design open up the solar option to more builders.

“The two man crews that are going around doing solar can now do advanced lithium-ion batteries without needing to understand how to program all these parameters,” says Maguire. 

Adara takes care of the programming and set-up onsite, which saves the builder valuable time during the construction and design process. Adara stays connected after the programming is complete and has the ability to remotely access a home’s system after market to diagnose and repair issues from anywhere in the world.

“The key message today is this is technology that’s available now. It works. You’re not going to get into a big cycle of going out to the site and changing parameters and re-tweaking the system,” says Maguire.

According to Gregory, on average, the Arc House uses about only 10kW of power every day. Excess power can either be stored in the lithium-ion battery system, sold back to the grid or even shared among other connected tiny homes or units.

Insulation for Structural Rigidity and Efficiency

This tiny home can also teach builders about using alternative insulation to improve efficiency and structural rigidity.

“In terms of insulation we are using Covestro foam. It’s a closed-cell foam that gets us R-six and a half per-inch so you have an R-40 envelope,” says Gregory.

According to business development executive Dan Varvais at Covestro, the Arc House uses two types of spray foam to improve efficiency and structural performance. The primary insulation is spray polyurethane foam, which adds structural strength with improved R-Values. The second spray foam is a fluid-applied roofing system that secures the roof in the event of high-winds.

The fluid-applied roofing system also has the benefit of durability. Every few years, a new layer can be applied to the roof to further improve strength. That could appeal to builders in storm-prone areas.

“One of the values, besides insulation, is that it adds a ton of structural sheer. And so, this whole arc has spray foam around the outside, which makes it very rigid,” says Gregory. 

According to Varvais, the envelope design uses a hybrid-application of polyurethane board stocks in conjunction with spray foam insulation. “It’s a cost-effective way to address the insulation requirements when you’re going for a high R-Value such as the R-40 of the arc house,” says Varvais.

The interior of the Arc House.
The interior of the Arc House.

But Covestro and Shelter Dynamics are hoping that builders will carry these lessons to their future projects.

“Architects and designers, for the future, should no longer focus on specifying single products but specifying systems that serve multiple functions,” says Varvais.

“You really reduce the amount of environmental impacts when you find one product that can serve multiple functions in the market.” 

Spay foam is able to meet multiple functions because the product serves as a barrier to air, moisture and sound to improve efficiency and IAQ.

RELATED: Builder Calls Spray Foam One of Top Emerging Technology

Check out our complete video tour of the Arc House in September! 

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About The Author

Michael Black is a staff writer and content coordinator at TecHome Builder. He has a particular interest in new solar developments and smart energy systems and is always looking for the next smart home trend to cover. As the youngest member of the TecHome team, Michael brings a passion that keeps the team energized. He also is instrumental in leading our social media efforts.

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