Sandbed Storage Home in Northern Minnesota

This is an example of a small house in northern Minnesota that uses a sandbed for storage that has worked out well.

The house uses several conventional solar thermal collectors to charge a sandbed heat store that extends under the full house.

Thanks very much to Maureen for sending in this information!

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The House

sandbed heat storage house in MN

The house size is just under 600 sq. ft.  One story.  The sandbed is two feet deep and extends  under the full house. 

The solar thermal collectors total 160 sq ft., and are  conventional panels manufactured by Solar Skies here in MN. 

The walls are straw bale, attic insulation is 18' inches of blown in cellulose.

The Sandbed

The highest temp we have ever seen at the sensor down in the sand at the depth of the tubes is 97 F, lowest 50 F.  Our slab temp (the actual floor we walk on) has gone as low as 49 during an extended absence in January, and as high as 90 F.  (90 F is unusual for the slab.)  Slab temp between 68 F and 75 F for probably 90 percent of the year.

The guys at Artha designed the system, sized of panels relative to floor, chose the length and diameter of PEX, length and diameter of shunt, size  and make of pump, size of PV panel, etc.  That was probably the best money we spent on any consultants during our building project, great value.  They were super about answering questions.  It's great t be able to rely on knowledgeable people.


We just finished our third winter in the house which uses a Ramlow sandbed storage heat system.  
We are located in Northern Minnesota, slightly inland from Grand Marais.

I would say our system supplies all the heat we need during the shoulder seasons (when you wouldn't expect to be heating all through the day but would probably have a fire in the evening, the morning or some point during the day.)  During December, Jan and Feb we burn a small fire most of the time we are awake, but let it go out at night and whenever we leave.  We burn about a cord per year.

We start storing heat in the sandbed in mid August.  I think that being able to start in August makes a big difference, because solar energy is not really bountiful at this northern latitude in November, December and January. 

 Not having fires at all during the shoulder seasons really saves wood.  The wood burning season is APPROX December through mid-March.  In our previous house we sometimes had a fire in June,  (Average date of last frost here May 31) and always had fires at night starting sometime in September . We burn something less than a cord per year to heat our 600 sq ft house.

Even more than the economy I am blown away by the comfort.  Even on the coldest night in January, the fire goes out at about 9 or 10 o' clock, and when we wake up the temp in the house is 65.

This is a great way to heat - I can't imagine any reason not to include a system in new construction.

April 16, 2012



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