21 Jan 2014

EcoHat is a powerhouse of energy efficiency

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First used at the Oxley Woods development in England and perched atop the roofs or services spine of each of the 145 houses, the EcoHat is a powerhouse of energy efficiency. Essentially a red chimney, solar power heats the air as it enters through the EcoHat.

This warm air then passes through filters into the living space, or is used to heat water by means of a heat-transfer coil.

free heating

free solar heating

Concept of the eco hat. Image: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

“We wanted to create something that meant we didn’t have to orientate the houses in order to maximise the energy we could gain from the sun,” says Andrew Partridge, project architect for Oxley Woods and the 8 Chifley building in Sydney.

The team, consisting of architects, service engineers and project manager, utilised a tried and tested system by Nuaire, which was adapted to the ‘hat’. Its casing conceals the gadgetry, while allowing the solar panels to be angled for maximum efficiency.

As a result, houses can be oriented in any direction, with the EcoHat always pointing to the appropriate direction for solar efficiency.

[Streetscape of Oxley Woods by RSH+P. Image: Katsuhisa Kida]

Streetscape of Oxley Woods by RSH+P. Image: Katsuhisa Kida

Allowing the residences to emit considerably less carbon dioxide than a conventional development of a similar size, this innovative product was created to resolve design issues at first, but ended up becoming a part of the design.

When asked how architects can ensure that their solar HWS is aesthetically pleasing, Partridge brings it back to the basics.

“It works best when such elements are considered from the start of the project, so they can be integrated into the design seamlessly,” he says.

“This ensures they do not end up either being the jarring element or prime mover.”

However, not all dwellings have suitable solar positions, and heat pumps present a good alternative. These pumps operate on a similar principle to refrigerators, and do not require roof panels, but rather absorb the atmospheric air to heat the water.

Lifehouse Design for instance has started specifying the Rinnai ‘26Eco’ instantaneous units for smaller projects where hot water use is minimal.

These units are highly efficient and do not have large amounts of hot water stored for long periods of time, Gibson says. They use approximately one third the energy of an electric water heater, while available rebates make them an economical option. However, they are a noisier system. check article at: http://www.bpn.com.au/features/bpn-reports/sunny-side-up-can-solar-hot-water-systems-go-toget?utm_source=Cirrus+Media+Newsletters&utm_campaign=5f2789ddb6-fe913f1856_57557&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fe913f1856-5f2789ddb6-59535205