Sand Dunes

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an Solar Accessibility Assessment?

The purpose of a solar accessibility assesment is to determine if your property or project is eligble for a Sophabulous solution. Understanding your property or location's solar accessibility is the first step to taking action towards a solar-passive enclosure. Our team will determine any limiting factors, or existing potential of your location. Our solar accessiblity assesments are created from an analysis of publicly available information about your property. This includes, but is not limited to: satellite imagery, street-level imagery, lithologic maps, and solar position algorithms.

In order to provide the best estimate of energy savings, our Solar Simulation Analysis calculates information on input efficiency and physical occlusions based on the desired measurements, to determine the maximum input and output of your Sophab enclosure. Due to the extremely specific requirements of HalfPhabs and SolarShips - a drone flight survey must be performed to give the most specific measurements possible, resulting in a full-analysis and accurately priced estimate. We are happy to offer a this for a fee, that will be absorbed into the total cost of your Sophab, upon purchase.

If you'd like to proceed with an extensive analysis, please contact us!

What are the ribs made of?

Ribs are made of locally-sourced Canadian hemlock. Hemlock is strong, resists warping, and surprisingly afforable. Our Sophabs are constructed of Hemlock strips, which are triple laminated (three pieces, glued togehter) to provide ample support required by the height and purpose of the Sophab. Laminated strips are attached with spacers to create the iconic rib you see in out Gothic-arch GreenPhab.

Laminated strips can be preserved with your choice of sealant, or paint, to achieve your desired look!

What are the covering options?

Sophab coverings are the finishing touch. This is a great opportunity to save or splurge.

Smaller Sophabs (including HeatPhabs and GreenPhabs) can be covered in any thickness of Clear Polyethelene, ranging from 3mm to 12mm! Our products at 3mm, have lasted through cold and stormy winters, however may be better suited for areas you wish to keep things dry, without needed to extend your Sophab's season. Polyethelene isn't perfectly clear, but provides ample light transmission, and UV protection.
If you want to utilize your Sophab enclosure for a longer season, then maximizing thermal rentention is crucial! Twin-wall polycarbonate panels provide almost clear views, UV protection, and additional R value (6mm or 1/4" provides has an R value of 1.54), with panels ranging in thickness from 6mm to 12mm!

For the HalfPhab (solarium-style) where soaking in the views is the goal, you might consider increasing visibility with Poly-carbonate Lexan Sheets, which are solid, clear sheets ranging from 1/8″ - 1/2" thick. This is the closest to glass windows, at a price you can enjoy! Lexan sheets are UV resistant, and virutally unbreakable!

Some people choose to install clear Lexan panels in the golden-view range along their structure, and twin-wall above eyesight, to save on overall cost.

How do I clean my Sophab?

Sophabs are meant to be low-maintence, so you can simply enjoy them! All offered Sophab coverings are designed to hold up in the weather. Rain should wash away most 'elements of nature,' or you can help things along with a standard garden hose.

We highly advise against using a pressure washer or scrub brush of any kind, as you may risk damaging the surface coating or material of your covering.

What can I expect for seasonal maintenance?

Sophab enclosures are designed to run themselves. With the advent of our Habitat Control Systems, Sophabs will require little extra maintenance beyond your daily use.

In the warmer months, utilizing ShadeSails or other shade cloths will be an essential step to protect you enclosure from over heating.
In the colder months, storing away the ShadeSails to allow for maximum solar exposure, and doing a walk-through for any potential drafts will help ensure an effective seal all winter long.

Do polycarbonate panels yellow over time?

Polycarbonate panel technology is much more advanced than it used to be! Now, these panels are made with UV protection in mind, and the properties remain intact during extreme and prolonged weather exposure.

Even so, the solid sheets still allow for 86% light transmission! Amazing.

Where do you place earthtubes?

Earth tube placement can vary, either going under the foundation for new construction, or wrapped around the exterior ground of an existing building. When it comes to a Sophab and the earth tubes, your earth tube placement will be determined by your Sophab structure placement, and existing landscape.

How many earthtubes do I need?

Earth tubes are limited based on the amount of surface area they cover. This can vary depending on the size of your home and enclosed area!

Our team will help calculate the right number and length of tubes required to reach your desired goals, based on your homes envelopes.

Can I get earthtubes on their own?

Yes! You don't need to have a Sophab of any kind to benefit from earthtube cooling in the summer.


How does it all work?

Got one minute? Check out our technology introduction video.

What's the installation process?

After a land survey to ensure theres no obstructions, we will begin earth tube installation - this is the ground-work (literally!) for your Sophabulous structure, and your cooling system. Once trenches are dug, earth tubes are installed, and integrated into your existing HVAC/air-ducts to ensure adequate air flow to the entire home.
Footings are secured on each side of the structure, as a stable base, and for adequate drainage of displaced snow and rain. Our SolarShip framing is what we call a 'trussed-arch' structure. Currently sourced form local steel factory, to achieve the overall design of the dome. This dome is erected, and then ready for panels!

Solid Lexan panels are then affixed to the structure, providing the new envelope between your home and the elements. Additional add-ons can then be installed such as sails for shading, fans, or electric-solar panels. Finally, our Habitat Control System (HCS), the key to it all. Without proper monitoring, it could rain inside your Sophab - we certainly don't want that! HCS is designed for auto-pilot, and custom-climate control, so you can turn the dial up to Mediterranian, and skip the vacation this year!

Are there any required changes to make to adopt a SolarShip enclosure?

There are some minimal (and some optional) changes that would be beneficial. We hope that every Sophab enclosure benefits from a roof replacement - not due to weather, but for the sake of a rooftop deck!

Even if the land size around your home is filled to the brim with garden space, or a pool, a rooftop deck allows for the lounge space to really enjoy that winter sun. This of course, is not essential.
The only required change is routing your utility meter to a location outside the Sophab.

How much space do I need around my home?

Depending on the height of your home, you could have as little as 1m, however more would be desirable.

One metre of surrounding ground for a 6.5m (21ft) tall house would suffice.

What will happen to my lawn inside the enclosure?

There are a few options if you're are choosing to maintain your lawn, or developing it into a multi-season garden! With the ample water-run off, there's potential to re-route that water to service your garden and water your lawn.

What happens when it snows?

The shape of the structure will cause snow to displace off the dome, into the run-off catchment along each side. The heated air will cause any remaining precipitation to melt off or away from the side of the structure.