One of my biggest reasons for attending home shows is to see interesting, cool homebuilding products and services, with the occasional celebrity to meet to keep things interesting. The 2011 Fall Atlanta Home Show didn’t disappoint, although, I had hoped that there would be more products to wow me.
A product garners a ”wow” and/or a “cool” rating by meeting one, or more, of the following criteria:
- A better-built “mouse trap” for an old problem
- A new invention/patent that truly benefits the homeowner. In other words, a good value.
- High tech green homebuilding solutions that will put money in your pocket in the long run while at the same time reducing your carbon footprint
- Magnificent craftsmanship
1. Attic Tent
We have an attic with pull-down folding stairs so this really caught my eye. It’s basically a low-tech insulation blanket surrounding the attic side of the opening to prevent heating/cooling loss.
You open and close the attic tent via a zipper. Installation is a breeze using a staple gun and caulk to seal the gap. It comes in 7 different sizes and is ASTM-E84 Tested for Flame/Smoke. It has a 3.2 R-value and the payback is an estimated 1-3 years. Cool!
2. Solar Hot Water Heater
Solar Energy USA has engineered an awesome solar thermal water heating system to heat your water from the sun via solar thermal collectors. These are not your typical solar panels. Nope. They use evacuated tube technology and a bunch of other cool technologies to bring this together.
In their words..
“The solar thermal collector is comprised of 30 evacuated tubes within a closed loop system. As sunlight travels through the evacuated tubes, the copper inside the tubes heats up. The heat is transferred from the tubes to a copper manifold, which contains a non-toxic biodegradable antifreeze solution called glycol. This fluid is pumped through to a solar wand heat exchanger and the heat is transferred to your hot water tank.”
The non-toxic fluid is propylene glycol, which is a biodegradable, food-grade anti-freeze heat transfer fluid. The fluid also prevents your solar hot water system from freezing. Keep in mind that the system sits on your roof and is exposed to the elements.
Hey! They’ve got a few other green products like photovoltaic panels and solar attic ventilation systems.
3. Velux Sun Tunnel Skylights
Sun tunnels are something that I’ve wanted for a very long time and if anyone at Velux is reading this, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary installation. There are plenty of areas that I could use one in my home.
Even though I’ve known about them for years, sun tunnels are highly desirable and can provide loads of natural light in some of those darker areas of your home, condo or apartment. Yes, there is an investment cost but you will be rewarded for years to come with beautiful, bright (free) natural light.
Velux has it all worked out no matter what your home configuration is. They have flexible tunnels for attics with obstructions. The preferred sun tunnel is rigid tubing because it will provide a brighter light, but there can’t be any obstructions between the inlet on the roof and the bottom of the sun tunnel in your home.
4. Lead Glass Doors / Stained Glass
There were a couple of companies displaying lead glass doors but Jennifer’s Glass Works products really stood above the rest. I’ve seen their doors and windows at a couple of different shows before and I’m still awestruck by the craftsmanship and excellent design characteristics.
Not only do they offer outstanding leaded glass door designs but the doors themselves are nothing short of spectacular. Some of the doors weigh hundreds of pounds! Not that weight is how you should base your buying decision but solid mahogany is hard to beat.
I’ll be putting up another post in the coming days with a few more cool homebuilding products from the Atlanta Home Show.