How to Keep a Sunroom Temperate
LESLIE: Barry in North Carolina is on the line and looking for some help with a sunroom. Tell us what you’re working on.
BARRY: Well, we’ve got a 12×15 sunroom and it’s just – it gets cold and it gets hot. It’s double-pane glass, insulated and it’s about 2 inches thick for the bottom part. But it’s like all metal, all aluminum and it’s just cold and hot. And I just want to know – and it is ducted; there’s an air duct out there.
BARRY: And is there anything I can do to make it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer?
TOM: Well, what’s going on here, Barry, is you are not putting enough cool air or warm air in that space to deal with the heat loss that’s going on. So, I presume now this – what you did is extended your HVAC system into this space? Is that how it’s ducted, when you say it’s ducted?
TOM: Alright. And this is typical. The HVAC system is not sized correctly for that area and for the heat loss in that area and for the heat gain in the summer. This is a perfect scenario, though, for you to add a kind of system called a “mini-split ductless.” A mini-split ductless is basically three pieces: you have an indoor unit that hangs on the wall; you have an outdoor unit that’s a very small, very quiet, very efficient compressor; and you have copper tubing that connects the two.
And you would buy one that’s just big enough for this sunroom and what it would do is supplement the central heat or cold air that’s coming through the duct systems and balance it out. It can have its own thermostat and can supply warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer and make that room totally comfortable. There’s little else that you can do to insulate the structure. It’s just a very cold structure by its very nature, a sunroom. But a mini-split ductless is a good product to install to balance this out.
You might want to take a look at this website: ConstantComfort.com. That’s the website for the Fujitsu Company. I personally have a Fujitsu mini-split ductless in my office because the room, just like you say, it’s too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. And it’s been the perfect addition to my HVAC plan, because it really makes this space comfortable.
BARRY: I’ve seen those units mounted before but usually they’re mounted up high.
BARRY: Can they be mounted down low?
TOM: You know, I believe they can. But the higher the better, especially for the cold air so it falls.
BARRY: But there’s only like 2½ feet of solid piece down below; the rest of it is all window.
TOM: Well, what about the wall against the house where the ducts come through?
BARRY: That’s a point. I hadn’t thought about that.
TOM: Yeah, see, it doesn’t have to be on the exterior wall.
TOM: It can – and in fact, you would want to have it on the interior wall – against the house, where the ducts come through – and mounted up high. And you’ll be amazed at how comfortable that space will be.
That website, again, is ConstantComfort.com. You can check out the Fujitsus there. And they also have an energy-efficiency calculator so you can figure out pretty much how much energy you save.
Problem is that we build these spaces and we add them on to our house. We try to extend the heating and cooling systems …
LESLIE: And it just puts too much pressure on the system.
TOM: Yeah, it’s just not enough.
BARRY: OK. Very good. That answers my question then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.