Mike Pelletier’s Gunnison, Colorado, sunspace was added to the south face of the house and married to the home’s original architectural style. The 221-square-foot sunspace (6.5 feet wide by 34 feet long) has 270 square feet of south-facing vertical glazing. The cost of materials to build the sunspace was about $4,500.
Pelletier and his family use the sunspace for lots of activities: house-heating, clothes drying, food drying, a climbing wall, the kids’ play loft, and sunny lounging. Future plans include adding a hot air collector behind the sunroom glazing and above the awning/reflector to help boost the air temperature from the sunspace to the home’s interior.
To get the warmed air to the house, Pelletier started with a thermosyphon system, but found the circulation rate disappointing—so a fan designed for a long duct system was added. It took some experimentation to get the distribution and noise levels right, but it works well now.
“We use the propane boiler only when it’s cloudy and when I’m away,” Pelletier says. “Otherwise, we use a wood stove along with the sunspace. When we first moved here, we burned six cords of wood during the first winter. After doing lots of insulating and adding the sunspace last year, we burned a bit less than two cords—and it was a cold winter. The sunspace’s temperature doesn’t seem much affected by the outside winter temperature, but the amount of clouds does affect its temperature—that’s no surprise.”
The sunspace serves multiple functions beyond space heating, including clothes drying and a kids’ play space.
The add-on sunspace integrates well with the home’s design.