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Old 01-23-2011, 10:34 AM   #1
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


Hi DIYers

I have a small vegetable farm that we are putting off the grid because we are too far from grid to connect affordably.

I am building a pole barn to mount the panels on the roof and to house the inverters and batteries inside. The barn is 32' across and 24' deep and is built with a utility pole foundation on the top of our ridge. The back has 8 utility poles every 8' (18" diameter) and there are 6 more poles (28' diameter) that make up the rest of the foundation an structure (16' length wise by 11' and 13' spacing in width).

I need to insulate the space for the batteries and provide some heat. I think the barn will eventually be completely insulated for winter use, but initially i only want to invest in insulating the space used to house the batteries to keep them functioning at best capacity).

I plan on pouring a concrete floor, however, for the entire barn space. I have heard however, that a concrete slab would adhere to the utility poles and heave and twist them with the winter frost. I live eastern Ontario, our frost depth is 4-4.5' and the hydro poles are sunken 5-5' feet in a gravel/sand base. The base and building were built last fall and i hoped to build the battery room this spring.

Any suggestions on pouring the insulated concrete slab and avoid this twisting of the hydro poles?

thanks

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Old 01-23-2011, 11:44 AM   #2
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


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Any suggestions on pouring the insulated concrete slab and avoid this twisting of the hydro poles?
Ayuh,... Box around 'em with your forming...

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Old 01-23-2011, 11:50 AM   #3
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


Okey,
but if I want to insulate the room and have a door...how do i make the room air tight? And how do i avoid having the concrete slab heave again the door?
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:54 AM   #4
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


First off do not insulate and in close your batteries. Batteries function and last alot longer when they can be cool, they generate there own heat in a solar set up because of the constant drain and charge cycle. Also batteries give off gas that needs to be ventilated to the exterior. If you in close and insulate your batteries your going to drastically shorten there life.

Does your slab have thickened edges and insulation around it to the outside. This will eliminate frost heave. Use some expansion around the post. This will keep the concrete from touching the post which does two things. Eliminates a point of moisture build up causing rot and stop the concrete to post problem.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:56 AM   #5
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


Dont box out around the poles it will look like well. Frost heave at the doors has to be remedied with the thickened edge and rigid insulation to the outside.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:31 PM   #6
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


What should i put around the post to avoid the contact? Vapour barrier? Foam?

How thick should the footing of the slab be? I haven't poured yet? If i insulate with blue board 2 feet under the slab and around the periphery and make a frost skirt around the building would this prevent all heaving?

I was under the impression that batteries had less amp hour capacity at lower temperatures. I was also going to build a battery box and have this vented to the outside.

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Old 01-23-2011, 01:08 PM   #7
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


I built an insulated room in an unheated garage once--it houses a washer/dryer set-up for a gal who couldn't walk the stairs to the basement any longer.---4 years--all good.

I built a 'walk in cooler'---For you I suggest a 2x6 floor--2x6 walls 2x8 ceiling --steel exterior door-

Insulate walls-floor and ceiling---add drywall or plywood inside and out--there you go---

I suggest you make a removable --insulated --hatch in the ceiling for added ventilation when needed.

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Old 01-23-2011, 01:34 PM   #8
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


Put expansion around the post. Its a felt like material designed to allow concrete to move seperatly from either another object of from itself. Wrap it around the post at slab heigt. You can find it at any supply yard. The thickend edge depends on your frost depth here its 18 in below grade. You want the edge sitting on the ground that connot be frozen. Putting insulation around the bottom and sides Ive never seen done and cant say it would work but it might.

As far as the batteries go. They might have less amp hours at colder temps but that is mitigated my the heat output from having that many batteries in a room. Im not an expert on solar batt set ups but have done alot of work and know alot of people in a lake community that is totally off the grid and is all solar and wind run. Some of the setups up there are very very expensive and huge. All the real expensive and large ones are not insulated and have plenty of venting.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:01 PM   #9
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


If you are using hydro poles you should be fine to just put them in the cement. In normal use they are put outside and driven into the ground, in some cases right into rock. Of course if you can find a way to keep them away from the ground they will last much longer, but even outside poles last for over 10 years. Maybe even 20.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:32 PM   #10
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If you are using hydro poles you should be fine to just put them in the cement. In normal use they are put outside and driven into the ground, in some cases right into rock. Of course if you can find a way to keep them away from the ground they will last much longer, but even outside poles last for over 10 years. Maybe even 20.

The poles are in already. Hes asking about keeping the slab away from the post. This is a very good and important thing todo to not only deal with frost but also with cracking
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:36 PM   #11
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


I would try to avoid putting the edge of my slab as deep as the frost line (5'), otherwise i could have avoided putting the hydro pole sin as a foundation material to begin with. I am looking for a way for the concrete slab to either be able to float up and down and not affect the rest of the structure, walls and doors (while still being air tight) or prevent it from heaving. The expansion around the poles solves the problem of the concrete slab heaving and twisting the hydro poles out of the ground. but how to prevent the slab from pressing up against the door frame and insulated walls?

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Old 01-23-2011, 04:49 PM   #12
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


You cant. If your not below the frost line its gonna move, and crack and mess with your doors. Theres no way to prevent it. Overhead doors are no problem regular exterior doors are going to be a problem.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:48 PM   #13
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


You don't need a turn-down/gradebeam/thickened edge slab. A typical slab on grade will suffice. I would suggest placing foam flat on grade around the perimeter of the building, at least 2" thick by 2' wide. This will help insulate the ground from frost, as well as the heat in the building. The 1/2" foam expansion material (it comes in a 50' roll typically) is a good idea to insulate the post from movement, as well as allow the slab some give with shrinkage.

Our last shop was a pole building with the same floor set-up. Never had a problem with the door performance in winter. Nor have we had issues with any other pole barn floors we've poured, and our frost line is at 4' as well.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:09 PM   #14
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


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You don't need a turn-down/gradebeam/thickened edge slab. A typical slab on grade will suffice. I would suggest placing foam flat on grade around the perimeter of the building, at least 2" thick by 2' wide. This will help insulate the ground from frost, as well as the heat in the building. The 1/2" foam expansion material (it comes in a 50' roll typically) is a good idea to insulate the post from movement, as well as allow the slab some give with shrinkage.

Our last shop was a pole building with the same floor set-up. Never had a problem with the door performance in winter. Nor have we had issues with any other pole barn floors we've poured, and our frost line is at 4' as well.
Maybe you just haven't heard of the problems. Most people arent worried about it in a pole barn or shop. The doors are hung from the framing usually before the slab is even poured. I never thicken the edge on a pole barn and if this was my building I wouldn't thicken it either. The OP is obviously worried about any movement at all. If I had a customer that was worried about movement this much I would have told him pour stem walls and conventionally frame it.
Thats crazy you guys get expansion in rolls. Ive only seen it in 10 or 12 ft sections. I wouldnt want it in rolls cause youd have to stake it more to keep it straight. Would be good for wrapping these post though.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:52 PM   #15
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Building a Solar barn, concrete floor with hydro poles


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Maybe you just haven't heard of the problems. Most people arent worried about it in a pole barn or shop. The doors are hung from the framing usually before the slab is even poured. I never thicken the edge on a pole barn and if this was my building I wouldn't thicken it either. The OP is obviously worried about any movement at all. If I had a customer that was worried about movement this much I would have told him pour stem walls and conventionally frame it.
Thats crazy you guys get expansion in rolls. Ive only seen it in 10 or 12 ft sections. I wouldnt want it in rolls cause youd have to stake it more to keep it straight. Would be good for wrapping these post though.
I completely understand the problems associated with frost heave. I've been around this trade for a "few" years. I would suggest a frost wall & footing assembly from the beginning as well, but I wouldn't turn down the chance to pour a floor in a pole barn either. It can certainly be accomplished in an acceptable manner.

We can get expansion material in a number of different varieties. Plain old asphalt impregnated felt in 1/4" & 1/2", 5' or 10' long. Recycled rubber in the same dimensions. Or 1/4" in varying heights by 100' rolls, or 1/2" by 50' rolls of a very soft plastic type expansion. Think of thick sill sealer.

http://www.wrmeadows.com/wrm00011.htm

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