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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Most efficient house to keep cool?

    After viewing many homes in Isaan I would like any constructive opinions on what design of house keeps coolest and stays coolest.

    Many homes are built on stilts and are very traditional for the area. When it is +40C you have the floor exposed to that temperature.

    I have found 2 storey homes to heat up the most especially on the upper floor making air conditioning a must for myself. I realize the upper floor gets more breeze but when it is near +40C more breeze just makes it a blast furnace and very uncomfortable.

    A single story house built on slab would seem to be most efficient as the temperature of the ground doesn't vary much (with a structure on top of it).
    Cheers

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    I'm no expert but I reckon using those white thermal building blocks are a much better option than the low grade grey blocks or the little red brick-lets. No doubt double skin walls are a bonus too.

    My house had loads of large windows and big French door sets, we've blocked up some of the doors, reduced in size some of the windows and replaced with UPVC double glazing.

    Don't scrimp on your AC either.
    I would post pictures but life's too short.

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurgen View Post
    I'm no expert but I reckon using those white thermal building blocks are a much better option than the low grade grey blocks or the little red brick-lets. No doubt double skin walls are a bonus too.

    Don't scrimp on your AC either.
    Thanks Kurgen - I built one house and used the single row of Q-Con blocks and was pretty happy with them and their insulation qualities. The positioning of that house was ideal with the smallest exterior wall having southern exposure supplemented with trees and a sala to shade that wall. All rooms have A/C but I used the smallest sizes I could get away with so they worked a bit longer but used less power. Of course the A/C salesmen wanted me to buy units nearly twice as big what I purchased?

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    Hi Gerry,

    I used the QCon blocks but at the time wasn't aware there were multiple sizes. The house walls seem to stay pretty cool tho, good roof insulation is a must, I only have the tinfoil crud they put in, but will add some fibreglass batts soon. I looked at the cost of double glazing but it was pretty expensive, good heavy curtains should serve a similar purpose.

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    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerry53
    After viewing many homes in Isaan I would like any constructive opinions on what design of house keeps coolest and stays coolest.
    One with all the doors and windows left open. I think you're looking into this too much. Look at how the Thais build. They don't sit in the house during the day. They sit under grass roofed raised platforms during the daytime. Only to venture indoors once the sun has gone down.

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    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Just my thought. When having my house constructed I included a basement. Why I can't remember but it turns out to be the coolest room in my house. I initially had problems in the rain season with ground water seepage. I sorted that out by digging an adjacent sump tank and piping away the excess water.
    If I was to build again, which I won't, then I'd consider a house underground.

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    Thailand Expat Dillinger's Avatar
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    Some fun facts;

    The hottest part of Thailand and with a record temperature of 43.8 C is Udon Thani

    The coldest place in Thailand is in Isaan also, Loei, with a record temperature of 0.1 C

    The Isaan province that receives heaviest rainfalls is Nakhon Phanom.

    The Isaan province that receives the lightest rainfall is Nakhon Ratchasima.

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    ^ Buy the buffalo.

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    Speaking from limited experience, the old shaped teak houses with very high roofs and the sort of flared vents at the side seem a cooler when I've visited them.

    An idea I'd also played with is using solar panels to power fans and aircon as well

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gerry53
    After viewing many homes in Isaan I would like any constructive opinions on what design of house keeps coolest and stays coolest.
    One with all the doors and windows left open. I think you're looking into this too much. Look at how the Thais build. They don't sit in the house during the day. They sit under grass roofed raised platforms during the daytime. Only to venture indoors once the sun has gone down.
    Hi Pragmatic - First I am not Thai, second I often do work on the internet during the afternoons when it is the hottest and I want the luxury of sitting in an A/C office if I choose. Isaan traditional homes are stilted and the family, animals etc spent time under the house in the shade and often cook and sleep there also. I think when that tradition started they had no A/C and they were generally less expensive, quicker to build and or move. Many upscale Thai's in Isaan today build regular homes as we would in the west, others like the traditional look with the A/C, kitchen, toilets, etc options.

    Earth sheltering is great to keep the house cool and that is why I built my house on slab (no air spaces under the cement floor) - to get any coolness from the soil. I wouldn't build a basement in my area due to high water levels during the rainy season, but I agree it would make it cooler. When I get up in the morning on hot days I don't throw open the doors and windows but make sure I keep the coolness inside. I can always sit on my porches or sala for fresh air and to view the yard. When the house is cool it stays that way most of the day, if I open everything up on a hot day the whole house heats up quickly.

    An underground house is good for both hot or cold climates and I was going to build one in northern Canada (-40C) but it was for the opposite reason as in Thailand - efficiently keeping the house warm not cool!
    Last edited by gerry53; 25-08-2015 at 12:57 AM.

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiLeakHunt View Post
    Speaking from limited experience, the old shaped teak houses with very high roofs and the sort of flared vents at the side seem a cooler when I've visited them.

    An idea I'd also played with is using solar panels to power fans and aircon as well
    I agree that the high roofs and ceilings help as the heated air rises. I have soffit and gable ventilation and will put rooftop turbines in if needed but I have above ceiling insulation hoping it will be sufficient.
    Solar power for fans is great for air movement but you would need a more complex expensive storage system for A/C and the local electric rates seem cheap enough at this point.

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    Since you are not interested in "going native," there are ways to minimize the heat affect and you have already mentioned several. Using Q-Con, double walls with an air pocket, roof insulation, tall ceilings, vented roofs all help. You touched on shade, which is huge in Thailand. Large shade trees are a must along with large eaves to shade your house walls will keep things cooler.

    Let's face it though, to get through the hot months AC is the best solution. The better your house is insulated, the less your AC will have to run to keep things cool. Humidity is the largest culprit and you can purchase AC units that have additional dehumidifiers even though a regular AC unit will pull moisture out of the air. Just make sure you fit the unit to the size of the area you want cooled.

    My house is in Issarn and I run my AC quite a bit. As you have mentioned, the electric bills in Thailand are very reasonable, so why not? If you like to be comfortable, that is the solution. Good insulation with a good AC unit. Shade and a nice breeze is fine most of the year, but if you want to stay cool, AC
    is the way to go. Just my opinion.

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Thanks Rick - I agree with your opinions and the use of A/C to be comfortable. Plus if you use the techniques you cited to keep the house cool it will take less energy to keep it cool using A/C when it is very hot. When humidity is high it does really drive the heat into the body and your energy disappears.
    I still have some trees that haven't grown enough to provide maximum shade but have done most others. I didn't use the double Q-Con rows with an insulating space because I thought the payback wasn't worth it. Due to low exposure to sunlight the single row seem to be working fine.

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    Gerry, my double row reference was more for when using regular concrete blocks. I had my building crew double wall everything on the outside of the house since I did not feel it necessary for interior walls. The double brick should creat a "dead space" that will retard heat transferance. The reason I took this route was due to the limited knowledge of laying Q-Con by my building crew. If experienced Q-Con workers are available, the use of a single row of thicker Q-Con blocks will achieve a high R factor as well.

    I have noticed that when there is direct sunlight on one of my exterior walls, the inside of the same wall is much cooler, so it must be working. Cost of either technique is similar and I like the added thickness for durability reasons. I overbuilt my house, but I wanted it to remain standing for many decades for my young son.

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    I had a hard time getting my contractor to use Q-Con blocks. They don't seem to want to change techniques but even they found it faster with a straighter wall. Your double wall with an air space will definitely greatly reduce any the heat transfer on the exterior walls.
    I had a hard time getting my contractor to think "outside the box" with electrical, plumbing, sidewalk location and finish plus the foundation IMO was way over engineered for a single storey?
    Nothing wrong with overbuilding for your off spring!

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    I don't own a house in Thailand at the moment, but have been doing a bit of thinking about it.
    Does the double skin with airgap run the risk of infestation ?

    I'd have thought filling the airgap with foam insulation would be better, or using a thin foil reflective layer on the outside between blockwork and render would help reflect radiated heat.

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    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiLeakHunt View Post
    I don't own a house in Thailand at the moment, but have been doing a bit of thinking about it.
    Does the double skin with airgap run the risk of infestation ?

    I'd have thought filling the airgap with foam insulation would be better, or using a thin foil reflective layer on the outside between blockwork and render would help reflect radiated heat.
    Infestation from insects, reptiles, rodents or mildew,germs and bacteria?

    I guess it would depend if the airspace was open to the outside for drainage or not sealed properly?
    If you filled that air space with a foam insulator I would think that would solve the problem. I think buying that type of foam in Thailand would be very expensive as it would be deemed a farang product. In my home country I can pay a contractor to blow in high expansion foam insulation fairly cheaply.

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    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerry53
    First I am not Thai
    Neither am I Gerry but the Thai ways are practicial. I had built an outside area that I too can sit out the hot part of the day if I so wish. Cooler than being in the house and it catches the breeze. It also acts as a play area for my kids, come rain come shine. It measures 10 x 8 m and is always in the shade.




  20. #20
    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Nice looking sala Pragmatic. Mine is very similar but smaller and we use it often as it is great protection from the sun and rain. For 30C days, mornings and evenings the sala is great but on those near +40C days I like my A/C.
    Last edited by gerry53; 25-08-2015 at 12:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiLeakHunt View Post
    I don't own a house in Thailand at the moment, but have been doing a bit of thinking about it.
    Does the double skin with airgap run the risk of infestation ?
    Yesterday. I was looking at older Thai designs whilst travelling down a klong.

    Double angle roof seemed quite prolific. shallow angle near the edge, then very steep in the center with slatted ends to let air circulate. This keep a large section of the roof high to avoid or reduce the radiant heat that the roof generates.

    I to was thinking double skin, like the old Land Rover safari roof but this idea seems a Thai version of double skin. I have also seem double roofs but only on flat roof houses where there is a lightweight steel aluminum "shade' above the roof proper.

    Another would be flat roof of concrete with grass on top. Doubles as a patio as there could be a sala up there and sunshade.

    Slight front to back slopped roof with a 1m wall around but the roof not load bearing then some black mash sun screen stretched across wires, like orchid farms. This would need replacing every 2 years or so but it is cheap.

    Really anything that reduces the radiant heat that the roof produces.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
    You people, you think I know feck nothing; I tell you: I know feck all
    Those who cannot change their mind, cannot change anything.

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    either that or build Blofeld's lair inside a mountain with lazer guns that can melt the Pentagon
    Last edited by SiLeakHunt; 25-08-2015 at 03:19 PM.

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    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiLeakHunt
    either that or build Blofeld's layer
    layer or lair?

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    I do apologies, edit done

  25. #25
    Newbie gerry53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SiLeakHunt View Post
    I don't own a house in Thailand at the moment, but have been doing a bit of thinking about it.
    Does the double skin with airgap run the risk of infestation ?
    Yesterday. I was looking at older Thai designs whilst travelling down a klong.

    Double angle roof seemed quite prolific. shallow angle near the edge, then very steep in the center with slatted ends to let air circulate. This keep a large section of the roof high to avoid or reduce the radiant heat that the roof generates.

    I to was thinking double skin, like the old Land Rover safari roof but this idea seems a Thai version of double skin. I have also seem double roofs but only on flat roof houses where there is a lightweight steel aluminum "shade' above the roof proper.

    Another would be flat roof of concrete with grass on top. Doubles as a patio as there could be a sala up there and sunshade.

    Slight front to back slopped roof with a 1m wall around but the roof not load bearing then some black mash sun screen stretched across wires, like orchid farms. This would need replacing every 2 years or so but it is cheap.

    Really anything that reduces the radiant heat that the roof produces.

    The flat roof with a certain level of soil, grass and plants works great at insulating but I don't think is practical on residential houses due to higher cost and engineering. They use them on high rise buildings successfully in Thailand and in the west and promote them as eco friendly. As you stated it does give you more usable area to enjoy also.
    For practical purposes any method to keep the sun off the roof or walls is the least expensive way to keep your house cooler. Insulation by using high efficiency blocks, double walls with an airspace, ventilated attics are more expensive methods followed by air conditioning.

    Sorry but building a Blofeld's Lair is a bit out of my budget!! 555
    Last edited by gerry53; 26-08-2015 at 12:22 AM.

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