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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
To insulate or not to insulate!
      #5646456 - 01/27/13 05:07 PM

My12x20FT observatory has a 9x12FT warm roof at one end. The four walls including the one between the scope room and warm room. I have covered the walls with nice pine board. The scope room will have pine board on one end for the warm room wall plus a door. The electrician wired the rooms like a regular house with the assumption the walls would be covered so its nice 'esthetically pleasing'.

So the question is; would it be detrimental to cool down, etc.. If I covered the remaining three walls with pine board, and alternatively insulated them? The roof if not insulated in any way, or separated for the scope room, it's just open trusses above your headband the underside of the plywood roof. The aim is to cover the wiring in one of several ways
1) soffit the wires and spaces surrounding the three walls sconces; two each walls for Red and Clear lights.
2) cover entire wall, leaving empty space inside. with pine board to match the warm room esthetic.
3) put up fiber glass insulation, or some other insulation, then cover walls with pine board. The Assumption is, the cheapest and easiest time to insulate the walls is before they're covered, assuming I ever wanted to insulate it. And if so, is it a detriment to operation of the observatory to do so.

I need to make this decision in the next couple of weeks, whilst waiting for OBY to finish the roof winch. *squee*!

Thanks for any comments, alternative concepts, opinions, and maybe objections :P


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5646671 - 01/27/13 06:44 PM

Here's my 2 cents, as someone who does not yet have an observatory, but is in the process of getting one (Skyshed POD) and thinking about the same thing.

I think that if you don't have active climate control, then leaving it uninsulated is the best bet. That will allow the inside and outside to stay as close to the same temperature as possible. In fact, I'd probably put vents in the walls to allow airflow so the inside can exchange air with the outside as freely as possible without letting in the weather.

BUT ... I'm planning on some simple climate control and, in that case, I think insulation will help. My thought is to add a small, low wattage heater inside the observatory, and a vent fan to exchange air when necessary. I purchased a couple of differential thermostat modules that work similarly to a Dewbuster dew controller. That is, they monitor the temperature at two different locations, and turn something on/off depending on the difference.

I plan to set it up so the heat will go on to keep the inside temperature a few degrees F warmer than the outside. That should help prevent dew from forming inside. The second differential thermostat will be set up to turn the vent fan on if the internal temperature gets more than maybe 8-10F warmer than the outside. That will help cool the observatory if the sun gets it too hot.

But, of course, when trying to adjust the temperature of the interior, it helps to have some insulation in place so you're not throwing energy (and $$) out the "window".

-Dan


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5646760 - 01/27/13 07:28 PM

I have insulated the lower walls of mine, and installed an exhaust fan to lower the heat during the summer. This has worked out extremely well for my circomstances. I may/may not insulate the ceiling at a later time.

Edit: Mine also is a thermostatically controlled exhaust fan.

Edited by csa/montana (01/27/13 07:59 PM)


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5646797 - 01/27/13 07:50 PM

My ROR Obs has fiberglass insulation in the walls and reflective foil under the roof. There is a thermostatically controlled exhaust fan that kicks on @ 80F. There is also an 8000BTU A/C unit with a dehumidifier installed that I can use if I'm working in there during summer and want to be comfortable. Once you roll the roof back everything reaches ambient pretty quickly.

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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5646924 - 01/27/13 08:55 PM

Thanks Folks! You got my brain juices running now! Wow, that sounded yucky :-) seriously, I had forgotten about a fan, now it makes more sense. The only active climate control I have planned is in the warm room, but now I'm thinking like you are Dan; something to beat the condensation.

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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5647477 - 01/28/13 06:39 AM

If you're interested, here's the differential thermostat modules I bought:
http://tinyurl.com/ar6rxra

-Dan


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Bob Griffiths
Getting Grouchy
*****

Reged: 10/10/05

Loc: Frederick Maryland
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5647591 - 01/28/13 08:40 AM

I do not have any insulation in my observatory .. not a piece ..I just used planked T & G wood flooring to cover the interior walls and to "neatify" the electrical etc...

I do use fans to exhaust heat in the summer months when the ambient temps get up into the 90's thru the walls and use a dehumidifier from spring to Fall in the winter I do absolutely nothing..

I'm visual only and I have no warm room but I wear heated motorcycle clothing especially in January and February

Bob G.


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DeanS
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 07/12/05

Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Bob Griffiths]
      #5648013 - 01/28/13 12:24 PM

When I built mine, I used the foil insulation under the metal roofing. I still got a lot of heat build up from the sun. I then put 1" foam insulation in the ceiling and it solved that problem and stays much cooler in the summer. My roof is a hip roof design so there are no end vents, just a ridge vent so may hold more heat as a result.

My walls are not insulated however my southern wall gets hot from the sun so I am thinking about doing it. I do us a small AC unit in the summer to help hold down the heat and humidity.

Dean


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jazle
super member


Reged: 05/20/10

Loc: California, USA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: DeanS]
      #5648766 - 01/28/13 05:24 PM

My previous observatory was a 7x7 rubbermaid flip-top covering an internal steel superstructure. I put in an small window A/C unit that was bolted to the steel superstructure inside.

Without the A/C unit, it would get mighty toasty inside during the day and I deemed that unsuitable for the equipment contained within. With the A/C, it was better, but the A/C had to work pretty hard.

I then put 1" foam between the steel structures and covered it with plywood. Without the A/C, it was cooler inside at noon than it was outdoors just due to the thermal mass inside keeping things pretty well regulated. When I'd get home, I'd crank the A/C on so it would get even cooler. By the time the roof was opened, the scope mirrors and everything was adjusted close to ambient temperatures.

My new larger roll-off observatory has a 9000 BTU split A/C going in the main room (couldn't fit it in the warming room). It is a heat pump model so I can warm myself up on cloudy days to work on things. The building, including the cathedral roof trusses and floor joists will be insulated and covered so the A/C doesn't have to work hard again.


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
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Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: jazle]
      #5649028 - 01/28/13 07:26 PM

Mine is fully insulated and it stays about 10 degrees cooler than ambient in summer.

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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5654765 - 01/31/13 05:44 PM

Thanks for the great input Folks! My track and motor from BYO is on its way :-) the OmegaII is ready for install and insulating the walls of the scope room is next on the list. Then the grand finale!

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HunterofPhotons
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Rhode Island, USA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5656282 - 02/01/13 12:36 PM

Is the ceiling already insulated?
Most of your heat will exit the ceiling.

dan k.


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bluestar
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/06/05

Loc: Maryland Eastern Shore
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5656838 - 02/01/13 05:42 PM

My 13 x 13 BYO rolloff has a small space heater to take the edge off the cold in winter.

I have a thermostatically controlled window AC unit to take the edge off the heat in summer. Being a visual only observer everything equalizes QUICKLY when I open the roof...especially in winter

Walls are foil/foam insulated between the joists. Ceiling is 2x layer foil insulation w/an air gap.

Roof caster rails are insulated (gap filled) with pipe foam strips stapled along the rail. I also use this for the end walls to insulate the roof gap. The high torque of the roof motor slides along this nicely with no noticeable binding or excessive drag...the foam is pretty slick on the outside.

I'm always tinkering and modifying the insulation in winter time...good time to feel for gaps or openings needing attention...observatory is pretty tight in winter and makes a nice reading/hobby room; best thing I ever did was insulate and add some basic environmental controls to enable the space for year-round and non-observe time use.


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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5657101 - 02/01/13 08:40 PM

Quote:

Is the ceiling already insulated?
Most of your heat will exit the ceiling.

dan k.




Dan, at the moment, no. I want to wall up the wiring and stuff so, lacking detriments to insulating, I wanted to stuff the walls.


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photonovore
Moonatic
*****

Reged: 12/24/04

Loc: tacoma wa
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5676627 - 02/12/13 09:32 PM

For a passive structure (no climate control) I would not insulate any structure surrounding the telescope itself. here's why;

The goal of an observatory structure is for it to become thermally invisible as quickly as possible after the sun goes down. To accomplish this you want to minimize the mass of the structure, use materials which dissipate accumulated heat efficiently and minimize heat uptake (reflective etc) and avoid structures that tend to *hold* accumulated heat. This would include unventilated boxed structures like insulated walls. Such structures will hold more accumulated heat and shed that heat over a much longer period of time than a building that is uninsulated and without interior paneling. If you must cover the romex for cosmetic reasons, consider simply paneling with pegboard and leave the insulation out of the picture.


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Galaxyhunter
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/02/06

Loc: Northern Illinois
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5677701 - 02/13/13 01:33 PM

Quote:

Mine is fully insulated and it stays about 10 degrees cooler than ambient in summer.





Another way of looking at this is if you at least insulate your roof, You keep out the heat that you waste time bleeding of at night. I have the foil insulation under my steel roof w/ a 3.5" air gap between them. The air gap pocket is fully vented on both ends by way of sofit vents. My inside temp generally runs between 5 - 12 below the outside ambient temperature. This is 5 - 12 lees that I have to wait for my mirror to cool down. I keep an eye on my inside - outside - & mirror temp gauges. Most of the time, I don't open my roof until it is dark because of the temp difference. BTW, I have no insulation in my walls, but the outside of the Observatory is painted White. By insulating the roof, I don't need an exhaust fan.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5679508 - 02/14/13 01:38 PM

Quote:

My12x20FT observatory has a 9x12FT warm roof at one end. The four walls including the one between the scope room and warm room. I have covered the walls with nice pine board. The scope room will have pine board on one end for the warm room wall plus a door. The electrician wired the rooms like a regular house with the assumption the walls would be covered so its nice 'esthetically pleasing'.

So the question is; would it be detrimental to cool down, etc.. If I covered the remaining three walls with pine board, and alternatively insulated them? The roof if not insulated in any way, or separated for the scope room, it's just open trusses above your headband the underside of the plywood roof. The aim is to cover the wiring in one of several ways
1) soffit the wires and spaces surrounding the three walls sconces; two each walls for Red and Clear lights.
2) cover entire wall, leaving empty space inside. with pine board to match the warm room esthetic.
3) put up fiber glass insulation, or some other insulation, then cover walls with pine board. The Assumption is, the cheapest and easiest time to insulate the walls is before they're covered, assuming I ever wanted to insulate it. And if so, is it a detriment to operation of the observatory to do so.

I need to make this decision in the next couple of weeks, whilst waiting for OBY to finish the roof winch. *squee*!

Thanks for any comments, alternative concepts, opinions, and maybe objections :P




If you left the walls uninsulated, but wanted a more finished look in the observatory, you could use thin veneered plywood and apply a nice finish to it. The heat capacity of that product is negligible. You might want to leave a gap near the bottom and top of the wall to allow heat to flow up and out of the wall cavity.


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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: JJK]
      #5679812 - 02/14/13 04:15 PM

Thanks for very one input, I've committed to insulate. If there are any downsides, I'll take measures once I get some data. Looks awesome with the pine boards.

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photonovore
Moonatic
*****

Reged: 12/24/04

Loc: tacoma wa
Re: To insulate or not to insulate! new [Re: Galaxyhunter]
      #5680157 - 02/14/13 08:22 PM

Quote:

wait for my mirror to cool down.




Good point...!! i had a refractor in mine so cooldown of the optic wasn't an issue to worry about. But with a big mirror...definitely a consideration.


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