Archive for January, 2011

Visiting Schneider Electric’s Experience Center

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

We are considering using Schneider Electric’s C-Bus Whole Home Control system.  Before making the decision to move forward, we wanted to visit Schneider’s Experience Center in LaVergne, Tennessee (Nashville).  Schneider has a website dedicated to C-Bus Whole Home Control, which includes information on the Experience Center in LaVergne.

The Experience Center is located inside a building that received LEED Silver certification.  It was good to see that Schneider Electric values third party certification and is truly committed to sustainable practices.   

Our local Schneider contact, Neil Moodie, scheduled the visit and arranged for the appropriate people to be available.  Neil came to our job site on November 29, 2010 and spent several hours with Bryan.

The day started with a tour of the Experience Center.  Lauren Henslee showed Bryan the various control systems and how they worked.  She demonstrated how lighting can enhance the artwork and other features of a room through various scenes and lighting controls.

Brad Wills, the Director of the Installation Systems & Control Group, opened up the cabinets and showed how the C-Bus system works.  C-Bus is very compact and has a number of modules that are designed to go into the cabinets.

After the tour of the Experience Center, Keith Richardson took Bryan on a tour to review the manufacturing operations in the facility, which is where PowerLink cabinets are assembled.  The PowerLink product line is for commercial applications, such as ‘big box stores’, drug store chains, parking garages, etc. where there are large electrical loads (lighting) that are controlled remotely and through dynamic programming.  PowerLink cabinets house circuit breakers that are operated by relay switches so large loads can be turned on and off easily.  The relays can be controlled by other means, including the C-Bus system.

It was interesting to see that each PowerLink cabinet is configured uniquely.  After the unit is completed and tested, they photograph the cabinet to document the components that are included in each cabinet.  Having photos of the completed cabinets makes it easier to establish the status of units that are shipped to customer sites and reduces any ambiguity of the configuration and condition of those units.

After touring the Experience Center and manufacturing operations, Bryan then settled into a conference room with Neil Moodie and Duke Dunsford.  Duke is a Field Application Engineer and leads the training group for the C-Bus systems.  As a trainer, Duke has extensive knowledge of the C-Bus product line and has extensive experience configuring complex, integrated whole-house systems for high end residences across the U.S. 

The objective of the afternoon session with Duke and Neil was to review our requirements and go through the preliminary design of a system for our house.  Bryan outlined certain details of our house, including the important requirements and integration points.  For example, we would like our security system and pool systems to be integrated with the whole house automation system.  As well, we have two windows and our three-panel sliding glass door that are controlled by electric motors.  The whole house automation system must control these electric motors.

Importantly, we’d like to have our heating/cooling system, which will probably be an Uponor Climate Control System, integrate with our lighting controls and whole house automation system.

During the meeting, Duke had John Tabacsko, a product manager, join us to review the integration points and product development evolution for the C-Bus system as it related to security and swimming pool controls.  It was excellent to have the resources available with deep knowledge to review our requirements and explain how the C-Bus system could meet our needs, today and in the future.

After reviewing our requirements in the conference room, Dan Loncar, drove both Bryan and Neil to the airport.  Dan was going to Chicago, Neil to San Francisco, and Bryan to San Jose.

It was a very full 24 hours.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities located in LaVergne, Tennessee (just outside Nashville).  The building received Silver certification under LEED.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities, located in LaVerge, Tennessee (just outside Nashville). The facility was certified Silver under LEED.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

Copies of Schneider Electrics patents.

Copies of Schneider Electric's U.S. patents.

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works.  It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works. It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting.  We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting. We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon.  Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon. Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).

Reviewing the Wine Cellar Mock Up

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Markus Benzenhofer, from TWA Systems, came to the job site today and reviewed the Wine Cellar.  Markus is working on the design and layout of the cooling panels in the ceiling, which will use our waste cold water to cool our wine.

Reviewing the Wine Cellar Mock Up

To design the cooling system, Markus needs to understand the load on the system.  The load on the cooling system is a function of many elements, including the size of the panels, the distance from the panels to other surfaces, and the temperature, volume and velocity of water going through the panels.

Importantly, Markus also reviewed how the cooling panels would be supported and where the attachments to the chilled water manifold would be.  Markus wanted to ensure that the design was robust and would support maintenance and allow access to the various components.

With the mock up of the wine racks in place, Markus reviewed the distance from the exterior walls to the panels as well as the distances from the wine racks to the panels.  He asked about attachments and described the load of the panels, which would need to be attached to the ceiling.

In order to understand the impact of the lighting, Markus and Bryan held the sample panel in place (using a ladder and measuring tape) and then tried to see what it would look like.  It was difficult to do with any precision.

After taking some notes, Markus commented, ‘A precise scale drawing would help to analyze the issues with certainly.  A mock up would be perfect.’

Markus left and Bryan set to work with Al and Nep, putting a mock up of the dropped ceiling and cooling system together.

Our 24 ft sliding glass door in the closed position.  Note there are only two vertical lines resulting from the three sliding glass panels.  Also, note how the vertical lines do not interrupt the 36-inch wide hardwood flooring and how the panels are different sizes.

Our 24 ft sliding glass door in the closed position. Note there are only two vertical lines resulting from the three sliding glass panels. Also, note how the vertical lines do not interrupt the 36-inch wide hardwood flooring and how the panels are different sizes.

The sliding glass panels are now behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room.  A clear 24 ft span!

The sliding glass panels are now behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room. A clear 24 ft span!

Top of the pocket with the three sliding glass panels in the pocket.  Bryan reviewed the design and layout of the pocket with Al.

Top of the pocket with the three sliding glass panels in the pocket. Bryan reviewed the design and layout of the pocket with Al.

Pocket and sliding glass doors behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room.

Pocket and sliding glass doors behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room.

Base of ppcket with sliding glass panels are behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room.

Base of pocket with sliding glass panels behind the feature concrete wall in the Dining Room.

Top of pocket with sliding glass doors in the closed position.  We need to have the house air tight so this position is critical.

Top of pocket with sliding glass doors in the closed position. We need to have the house air tight so this position is critical.

Same position with doors extended, and view of top.  The exterior face of the sliding glass panel needs to lock into something to prevent air leakage around the exterior (third) glass panel.

Same position with doors extended, and view of top. The exterior face of the sliding glass panel needs to lock into something to prevent air leakage around the exterior (third) glass panel.

View of bottom of pocket with sliding glass panel in closed position.

View of bottom of pocket with sliding glass panel in closed position.

Tape measure in Wine Cellar, showing the components that Markus and Bryan had established in December.

Tape measure in Wine Cellar, showing the components that Markus and Bryan had established in December.

Measuring the distance to the hollow core concrete panels.  The ceiling will be dropped so we can insulate the Wine Cellar.  As well, the cooling panels will be attached to the dropped ceiling structure.

Measuring the distance to the hollow core concrete panels. The ceiling will be dropped so we can insulate the Wine Cellar. As well, the cooling panels will be attached to the dropped ceiling structure.

After Markus left, Bryan worked with Al and Nep to put a fast mock up of the ceiling structure with cooling panels in place.

After Markus left, Bryan worked with Al and Nep to put a fast mock up of the ceiling structure with cooling panels in place.

Angle of viewing from Wine Dining where the top of the panel is not visible.

Angle of viewing from Wine Dining where the top of the panel is not visible.

View of mock up, showing the dropped ceiling and panel height.

View of mock up, showing the dropped ceiling and panel height.

View of front of ceiling, with actual distance from panel to soffit.  The Redwood in the bottom and side of soffit are mocked up with scrap material so we could see the angles.  Note the attachment to the dropped ceiling is not mocked up correctly although the height of the panel is correct.

View of front of ceiling, with actual distance from panel to soffit. The Redwood in the bottom and side of soffit are mocked up with scrap material so we could see the angles. Note the attachment to the dropped ceiling is not mocked up correctly although the height of the panel is correct.

View of mock up from inside the North aisle in the Wine Cellar.

View of mock up from inside the North aisle in the Wine Cellar.

View of dropped ceiling and attachment to sleepers secured to the bottom of the hollow core concrete panels.

View of dropped ceiling and attachment to sleepers secured to the bottom of the hollow core concrete panels. This space will be filled with closed cell spray foam.

View of cooling panel under dropped ceiling.  Note the attachment to the panels is not in the correct location.

View of cooling panel under dropped ceiling. Note the attachment to the panels is not in the correct location.

View of soffit with mocked up Redwood in place.  Note the spacing for the top of the North rack.

View of soffit with mocked up Redwood in place. Note the spacing for the top of the North rack.

Another view of the soffit, showing the details of the various components (layers).

Another view of the soffit, showing the details of the various components (layers).

Reclaimed Redwood that Al and Nep have cut for the racks in the Wine Cellar.  This wood is old growth, clear heart Redwood.  Al deconstructed a deck in a previous project and saved the wood to be used in the future.  It will look spectacular in our Wine Cellar!

Reclaimed Redwood that Al and Nep have cut for the racks in the Wine Cellar. This wood is old growth, clear heart Redwood. Al deconstructed a deck in a previous project and saved the wood to be used in the future. It will look spectacular in our Wine Cellar!

Building the Profile of the Center Wine Rack

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

To complete the overall geothermal and hydronic design, We need to understand the cooling loads in the Wine Cellar.  To understand those cooling loads, we mocked up the North rack in the Wine Cellar.

This was not sufficient so we built the profile of the center rack too.

Having completed these mock ups, Bryan called Markus Benzenhofer (TWA Systems) and arranged to meet in the Wine Cellar tomorrow morning to review the layout and load of the cooling panels.

Our red front door in the shop at American Ornamental Iron.  It is looking good!

Our red front door in the shop at American Ornamental Iron. It is looking good!

The frame for the red front door.  Note the SpaceLoft insulation on the right, which will be used to insulate the frame.

The frame for the red front door. Note the SpaceLoft insulation on the right, which will be used to insulate the frame.

Mock up of the center rack, without the waterfall, showing the height and width of the exterior frame.

Mock up of the center rack, without the 'waterfall', showing the height and width of the exterior frame.

Center rack next to North rack.  All racks will bear on the same 2x4 plates that will be secured to the concrete floor.

Center rack next to North rack. All racks will bear on the same 2x4 plates that will be secured to the concrete floor.

We put a few bottles in the rack to test the spacing, which worked well.  We used a champagne bottle to test the 1.5 l (magnum) spacing.  It fit just fine.

We put a few bottles in the rack to test the spacing, which worked well. We used a champagne bottle to test the 1.5 l (magnum) spacing. It fit just fine.

 

 

Two of the largest 750 ml bottles that we could find (Carinae and La Celia, both from Argentina).  We tested the smallest rack for height and length.  It worked!

Two of the largest 750 ml bottles that we could find (Carinae and La Celia, both from Argentina). We tested the smallest rack for height and length. It worked!

The test worked perfectly!

The mock up worked perfectly!

The most restrictive locations worked will for height and length.

The most restrictive locations worked will for height and length.

North rack (left side) and center rack.  The spacing is identical in the center rack and there is an additional 0.75 inch of depth available for each group of two bottles.  The racks will work just fine.

North rack (left side) and center rack. The spacing is identical in the center rack and there is an additional 0.75 inch of depth available for each group of two bottles. The racks will work just fine.

Starting on the Wine Cellar

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

We have a lot on our list and, although it should be a low priority, our Wine Cellar is high on our list.

The Wine Cellar is important because it is integrated with our geothermal heat exchange.  Essentially, we will be creating a tank of hot water and a tank of cold water.  The hot water will be used to heat our domestic hot water and to heat our house.  The cold water will be used to cool our house.  When we are in ‘cooling mode’ we will take the waste hot water and dump it into our swimming pool.  When we are in ‘heating mode’ we will take the waste cold water and dump it into our Wine Cellar.

Integrating our system requires that we consider each of the elements in order to complete the design.  So, spending some valuable time at this point in the project on our Wine Cellar is prudent since it will help us complete the geothermal design and implementation (construction).

Of course, the layout and design of the Wine Cellar must be functional and pleasing to the eye.  We’ve done plenty of research on wine cellars, including our visit to St. Maarten last year.  Bryan visited K&L Wine Mechants in Redwood City several times to review the construction details of their racks.  He took a number of photos during his visit to their branch on December 12, 2010.

Wine Cellar Design Alternatives

We need to finalize the ceiling height and cooling panel design components so we can establish our design and definitive cooling panel layout.

The big question that we needed to answer were related to the size of the aluminum panel that would take the BTUs from the wine bottles and move that energy to the heat exchange unit (where it would go to wherever there was a heating call).

This answer requires exact dimensions and cooling load requirements.

Mocking Up the Wine Cellar Racks

We spent several days ensuring that our wine racks would be consistent and symmetrical.  We took the dimensions of our ‘space’ and sent that information to several wine rack manufacturers and they provided us with layouts and dimensions of what they could do.  At the same time, we do have Al and Nep to work on fabricating and installing the wine cellar.

After analyzing the Wine Cellar, we decided that we would only use Redwood and stainless steel inside the Wine Cellar.  There will be no finishes inside the Wine Cellar – all the wood and surfaces will be natural and not coated with any stains, paints, etc.

Our decision criteria for the unfinished materials include durability and the resistance to corrosion. Although we will be controlling the humidity of the air inside the house, the Wine Cellar will definitely be more humid than the rest of the house.  With the increased humidity, the air will also be much cooler (57°F) so we will be very close to the dew point with the humid air (if the air is too dry then the corks will shrink).

Given our situation with tight spacing and our desire to fill the space completely, we have to assemble the various components of the wine racks inside the Wine Cellar.  Although it may seem trivial, it is not (go figure!).

It felt good to get the first mock up of our wine rack completed and located in the appropriate position inside our Wine Cellar.

Now we can complete the design of the cooling panels in the ceiling.

Cheers!

Starting with the concrete 'box', located under the garage.  The 2x4 sleepers on the floor will be used to attach the racks to the foundation and to raise the hardwood floor off the concrete.

Starting with the concrete 'box', located under the garage. The 2x4 sleepers on the floor will be used to attach the racks to the foundation and to raise the hardwood floor off the concrete.

The mock up of the North wine rack is in place.  In the mock up, we built a rack to hold one 750 ml and 1.5 l bottles in the smallest location to verity the fit.

The mock up of the North wine rack is in place. In the mock up, we built a rack to hold one 750 ml and 1.5 l bottles in the smallest location to verity the fit.

This wine rack will be very tall (105 inches from finished floor to the top of the rack) and is designed to hold 820 750 ml bottles and 16 1.5 l bottles.

This wine rack will be very tall (105 inches from finished floor to the top of the rack) and is designed to hold 820 750 ml bottles and 16 1.5 l bottles.

The profile of the North rack, which is a mirror image of the South rack, is one bottle deep at the top and two bottles deep at the base.  There will be two rows of display bottles that will be at an angle.  The counter will be granite.

The profile of the North rack, which is a mirror image of the South rack, is one bottle deep at the top and two bottles deep at the base. There will be two rows of display bottles that will be at an angle. The counter top will be granite.

The North (and South) racks are taller than the dropped ceiling and will be two inches below the aluminum cooling panels.The ceiling will be dropped by six inches so it can be insulated.  Overall, the finished ceiling will be 9-1/2 inches lower than the bottom of the hollow core concrete panels shown in this photo.

The North (and South) racks are taller than the dropped ceiling and will be two inches below the aluminum cooling panels.The ceiling will be dropped by six inches so it can be insulated. Overall, the finished ceiling will be 9-1/2 inches lower than the bottom of the hollow core concrete panels shown in this photo.

The bottom of the North rack, showing the space that ill extend across all three racks (North, center and South).  The hardwood flooring and redwood ceiling in this area will match the flooring and ceiling in the Wine Dining.  However, there will be six inches of crushed rock around each of the racks and the walkway between the racks will be perpendicular to the hardwood flooring that continues from the Wine Dining.

The bottom of the North rack, showing the space that ill extend across all three racks (North, center and South). The hardwood flooring and redwood ceiling in this area will match the flooring and ceiling in the Wine Dining. However, there will be six inches of crushed rock around each of the racks and the walkway between the racks will be perpendicular to the hardwood flooring that continues from the Wine Dining. Reed Kingston recommended (strongly) that we include sufficient space to walk from the North aisle to the South aisle without moving the sliding glass doors (does this look ok Reed?).