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Case Studies

"Lighthouse" - A Beacon for Radiant Comfort

Old world construction, new world comfort

When Alan Haar decided to build atop a lakeside mountain, he wanted a home with radiant heat, expansive views of the countryside and interior spaces with few dividing walls. Since the forest prevented unobstructed views of the lake, "There was only one way to do it," he said: "Over the top."

The design he settled on was influenced by his long fascination with old lighthouses. Built like an octagonal wedding cake with each successive layer in smaller size, the home's top floor would feature 360-degree, 8-sided walls of glass with a view over canopy of trees. Inside, an intricate framework of exposed beams would support the structure's mass with few interior walls.

But the mechanical systems presented new challenges. With so many exposed walls and ceilings, how would they facilitate heating, air conditioning, and plumbing? "Timber framed structures, by their design, challenge the proper installation of mechanical systems," said Dave Yates, president of F. W. Behler, Inc, chosen by Haar to do the job. There was limited space for concealing heating, plumbing and drainage pipes, and the central opening up through each successively smaller floor multiplied Yates's challenge.

So what's a top drawer plumbing and mechanical guy to do?

Yates' solution:

  • The ground floor concrete slab was tubed with home runs to the main manifold for zoning flexibility between bed and bath groups.
  • "The upper hardwood floors," said Yates, "cried out for radiant heating." But the six-inch truss joist space was too narrow to house the Watts PEX potable homerun tubing, the electrical wiring, hi-velocity A/C ductwork and a plated under-floor radiant application. So the radiant had to be moved.
  • SubRay to the rescue! Given the octagonal construction and soon-to-be-installed pie-shaped wedges of hardwood flooring, Dave needed a product with design flexibility. "SubRay offered us tremendous flexibility for diverting tubing runs around the massive timbers and where each of the eight floor sections abut the other with no need to alter the SubRay product," added Yates. "It's a right-out-of-the-box installation that saved considerably on installation time, too."

Western Pennsylvania

Radiant Systems Installer

F. W. Behler, Inc., York, PA

Design & Architecture

Tony Zaya, Lancaster County Timber Frames


PEX, potable PEX, manifolds and SubRay

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