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Energy Efficiency Testing

Real, Meaningful Testing

If you’ve seen our marketing material or read this blog, you’ll know that we’re committed to objective testing to show just how energy-efficient our pet doors are. We know that energy efficiency is important to our customers, whether it’s to meet rigorous certification requirements (like those for the Passive House) or whether it’s just eliminating drafts and saving money on heating and cooling bills.

This commitment to testing has led us to partner with Architectural Testing, Inc. (ATI) –  a leader in third-party testing for building materials – to do some first-of-its-kind testing on the energy efficiency of pet doors. This past March, ATI conducted testing to determine the air leakage of Freedom Pet Pass doors and their U-factor.  I was able to observe the testing while it was being performed, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of my pictures and impressions.

We’ll share the results of this testing in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

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This thermal lab has two test walls. They are about four feet apart from each other. Our pet door is about ¾ of the way down on the left hand side. The walls are designed for fenestration products that are really big like garage doors and extremely accurate for different types of tests. See the inside view of the test walls or Curtain Wall area in the picture to the left.

On a side note, the facility itself was quite impressive, clean, and very busy. Behind the building I was in, there was a large coliseum type structure where many different fenestration tests could be performed on whole houses or sections of skyscrapers. After testing, samples of the product(s) tested are stored for four years for future reference. In our case the whole pet door is boxed up.

This is the same laboratory where manufacturers of windows, doors, and other fenstration products have their testing performed.  Because of this, architects and state building code authorities can use the data generated to determine the energy efficiency our pet doors with confidence. Energy savings can be scientifically calculated like all other window and door products.

We’re excited to share the full results with everyone! Hopefully it will be soon.

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Energy Efficiency Standards & Testing for Pet Doors

The problem…

Eight years ago, when I started building pet doors, my goal was nothing short of changing the industry. I knew that I was building pet doors that were far more energy efficient than any others available, and I wanted to prove it with industry standard testing. Unfortunately, that standard of testing didn’t exist.

The NFRC

I found out about the National Fenestration Ratings Commission (NFRC) pretty early in my research.  The NFRC was formed several years before that, in part because of over-zealous claims of energy efficiency made by window, door, and other product manufacturers that make accessories that attach to the envelope of homes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenestration). I thought pet doors would fit nicely into their mission.

When I inquired about getting my product rated by the NFRC, they were busy with other products and couldn’t work on pet doors. So I poked around in the Department of Energy (www.energy.gov) as to any pet door requirements as fenestration products for residential homes.  I learned that pet doors were not specifically addressed in codes, as they are not a universal part of homes, nor are they included in plans or covered by code or inspection. Since then, I have been working toward getting independent, third-party standards recognized for pet doors.

Newest Developments

As they say, the longer you practice your craft the better you get.  In my case, I have also become better at networking over the last eight years. Last year I joined the NFRC (www.nfrc.org) as a full member and went to the fall meeting. With contacts made at the NFRC, we are working to develop a standard for wall mounted pet doors with the California Energy Commission Ca. Title 24 residential building code (www.energy.ca.gov/title24), since no such code existed.  A worldwide recognized thermal laboratory is working on developing a set of energy efficiency tests specific to pet doors. The aim of these tests will be to provide independent, third-party data for pet doors acceptable to Ca. Title 24, the first step in allowing pet doors to be designed architecturally into the walls of brand new homes that meet stringent California building code.

Thus far, Freedom Pet Pass is the only pet door company willing to pay to have its doors tested. The test results will be shared on our website as they become available.

Allowing architects to design a home with pets in mind, providing pet door locations suiting the needs of both pets and their owners makes perfect sense to me.  This should be designed up front, rather than as an afterthought attached somewhere to the envelope of the home.  My goal is to legitimize the pet door industry with official tests and standards.  Ca. Title 24 is a great place to start, and development of an NFRC Certification and Label is the ultimate goal.

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How FLIR Testing Dog Doors Proves Energy Efficiency

Some of the best selling pet dog doors waste more energy than you may think. A FLIR testing system can test your dog door’s energy efficiency and help you make an informed decision. An energy efficient pet dog door not only enhances your dog’s movements in and out of the house but also benefits you in more ways than one.
What Does a FLIR Testing System Do?

Let us see exactly how a FLIR testing system works and what it helps to check. FLIR thermal imaging cameras help to view and record the thermal distribution and variations in temperature in real time. This helps you check the heat patterns, leakage or dissipation and other temperature-related factors in products, equipment and processes. Simply stated he FLIR testing system is used to show exactly where energy waste occurs.

What we did was use this system to check the energy efficiency of the Freedom Pet Pass dog door. An energy efficient pet door should be able to block air leakage and help maintain the temperature within the home.

When you perform a thermal imaging test, you can not only detect but also visualize air infiltration and exfiltration. The visuals depict cold spots or areas from where the air may be leaking, in sharp bluish purple color tones. A dog door that has minimum cold spots is the most energy efficient door.

FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer) uses infrared technology to identify missing insulation, loss of energy, radiant heating and inefficient HVAC systems. The FLIR infrared camera helps identify patterns of energy loss that may otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The property and measurement data is compiled into a report and air leaks are easily identified.

How Did Freedom Pet Pass Fare on the FLIR Testing System?

We are proud to announce that Freedom Pet Pass passed with flying colors. And most of these colors were not even close to the bluish purple we were dreading! This energy efficient dog door proved to be the most energy efficient pet doors available today. Little wonder then that Freedom Pet Pass is the only pet door brand Energy Star Partners endorse.

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Can a Dog Door Really be Green?

Can a dog door really be green? The answer is yes. A new generation of energy efficient dog doors or green dog doors are designed to seal airtight and reduce the carbon paw print. Earth Advantage Institute performed a blower door test on the Freedom Pet Pass dog door for a Passive Home project in Oregon and the new green dog door exceed air tightness requirements set forth by Passive Homes by a factor of 3.

Who is Earth Advantage Institute?

Earth Advantage Institute is a non-profit that  implements sustainable building practices. A team of dedicated industry professionals specialize in implementing a practical and cost-effective path to sustainability and reduction of carbon in the built environment. Earth Advantage Institute is quickly becoming a leader in the field of sustainable building and climate solutions. Visit their website to learn more about their mission and how your home or business can benefit from building green. www.earthadvantage.org.

What is a blower door testing as it relates to Passive Homes?

To test levels of air tightness and locate leaks in a home, a large calibrated fan called a blower door is used to evacuate air from the interior. This fan depressurizes the building down to -50 pascals, which is the equivalent of a 25 mph wind hitting the house from all directions at once. Under this pressure differential, any areas contributing to leakage can be found and remedied.

The resulting amount of leakage can be expressed many ways, but is usually seen in the form of “x” ach5o, which relates how many air changes per hour the house will experience under an induced pressure differential of 50 pascals. It is not uncommon for older homes to have numbers in excess of 10 ach50 (10 whole house air changes every hour at -50 pascals). New, well built homes often fall in the 3-5 ach50 range, and getting below 2 ach50 only takes place with true diligence to sealing details and components.

What were the blower door test results For the Freedom Pet Pass dog door? Courtesy of Blake Bilyeu from Bilyeu Homes Inc., energy efficient home builder.

The air tightness requirement for Passive House certification is 0.6 ach50., and requires a different method for interior volume calculation resulting in even stricter levels of tightness. This level is achievable only with an extremely well thought out and detailed shell.

Our Passive House project in Salem, OR, achieved a remarkable third party certified 0.2 ACH50 on it’s final blower door test, and this was with a Freedom Pet Pass 6×10 door-mounted pet door unit in place during testing.

Blower door test results for the 16th & Nebraska Passive House as tested by the Earth Advantage Institute

Interior volume based on Passive House Methodology: 13772 ft3
CFM at 50 pascal depressurization: 47 cfm50
Air changes per hour at 50 pascal depressurization: 0.2 ach50

Blake J. Bilyeu | SHP| CPHC |
Bilyeu Homes, Inc.
custom home design and construction

Can a dog door be green? A Freedom Pet Pass is. If you have an ordinary dog door installed, find out how much of a carbon paw print your dog is leaving by having it tested. Visit Earth Advantage Institute to learn more about sustainable building practices and products that will improve your homes performance.

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The First Pet Door Engineered for Home Performance

Pioneering a pet flap that seals airtight has made us the #1 energy efficient pet door brand in the world.  But, what also makes us unique, and in great measure has made us the #1, is the credibility we have earned in the arena of home performance and energy efficiency. Unlike our major competitors we are the first and only pet door Energy Star partners and home performance experts recommend for your home. These expert endorsements bypass the usual energy efficiency claims made by our competitors and thus ensure we offer the best energy efficient pet door you will find.

Air Leakage is the natural enemy to a pet door truly claiming to be energy efficient. Our philosophy is it takes an airtight pet flap to engineer an energy efficient pet door.

Trusted energy efficient product specialists including home performance experts, aerospace engineers, and Energy Star partners tested the sealing ability and thermal resistance our pet flap provides and determines precisely how energy efficient this pet door really is.

Freedom Pet Pass pet doors allow zero air infiltration and provide an R – Value better than many exterior windows and doors installed in residential homes. Passive House, the ones who build airtight; energy smart homes of the future have tested our pet doors and now recommend them to their clients. If this pet door is good enough for the leading home energy organization in the world you can trust it will be the last pet door you purchase for your special pet.

Passive homes have arrived in North America. Learn more here:Could It Revolutionize the Way We Build?

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Does your pet door leak water into your home?

Does your pet door leak water into your home? You are not alone. Many pet doors do leak water into the home because they do not seal air tight. Many pet doors claim to seal well or create a weather tight barrier. However, when these pet doors are installed and exposed to wet weather you notice flaws in the “weather tight barrier”. Even if your pet door has several pet flaps all you are really getting is more than one leaky pet flap.

Freedom Pet Pass manufactures the only pet door to allow zero air infiltration which is in big part why it is know as the most energy efficient pet door you can buy. Another benefit of creating that airtight seal is the fact that rain and moisture will not penetrate the pet flap and enter your home. This is  a very important yet often overlooked benefit of a pet door. If your pet door leaks you already know what I am talking about. Here is a short video we put together to show you how well the Freedom Pet Pass performs with water shooting directly at our pet flap for over 30 minutes.

Freedom Pet Pass energy efficient pet door prevents water from leaking into your home So if you own a leaky pet door see what you have been missing. We are here to help you find an energy efficient pet door to replace your leaky pet door. Contact us if you need help or have questions. If you are shopping for a pet door for the first time read more of this blog to identify some helpful tips on what to look for when you are buying a pet door. We may not have the right pet door for you, but we may help make you aware of what features and benefits are important to you.

Does your pet door leak water into your home? Is it a door mount pet door or wall mount pet door. Who makes it? What are some important features and benefits you look for in a pet door? Did this video help show you how our pet door prevent water infiltration?

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Freedom Pet Pass Aces Air Leakage Test

Air leakage tests and thermal imaging were conducted on the Freedom Pet Pass and the “World’s Best Selling Pet Door”. The temperature and air leakage test conditions were identical for the dog doors tested. Ambient air was 65.7° F and test pressure was +50Pa.

 

The Freedom Pet Pass dog door did not have any detectable air leakage while performing the air leakage test, and the multi- layer of SBR rubber and two layers of marine grade canvas with a total R-value of approximately of 0.35 did provide a decent thermal barrier.

 

The “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door” had significant air leakage while performing the air leakage test and the single layer of plastic with an approximate R-value of .25 did not provide a good thermal barrier.

Preliminary Test Results

Air leakage tests and thermal imaging were conducted on the Freedom Pet Pass, and the “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door”. The temperature and air leakage test conditions were identical for the dog doors tested. Ambient air was 65.7o F and test pressure was +50pa.
The Freedom Pet Pass dog door did not have any detectable air leakage while performing the air leakage test, and the multi- layer of SBR rubber and two layers of marine grade canvas with a total R-value of approximately of 0.35 did provide a decent thermal barrier. The “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door”  had significant air leakage while performing the air leakage test and the single layer of plastic with an approximate R-value of 0.25 did not provide a good thermal barrier.

The preliminary test results indicate that the Freedom Pet Pass out preformed the competitive “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door” in air leakage test.

The main goals of air leakage control are to:

♦ Save energy.

♦ Increase comfort.

♦ Protect insulation’s thermal integrity.

♦ Reduce direct cooling or heating of people and building components by outdoor air.

♦ Avoid moisture migration into building cavities.

♦ Reduce vermin’s access to indoors.

♦ Reduce flow of air pollution from external sources.

♦ Reduce rainwater leakage.

♦ Enhance fire safety.
The energy savings through infiltration when comparing the Freedom Pet Pass to the “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door”; the unique magnetic seal of the Freedom Pet Pass  design reduces the infiltration by 190% when compared to the “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door”. Air leakage in buildings represents from 5% to 40% of the space-conditioning costs. Controlling air leakage is one of the most important functions.
The Freedom Pet Pass pet flap multi- layer design incorporating SBR rubber and two layers of marine grade canvas with a total R-value of approximately of 0.35 did provide a decent thermal barrier. The Freedom Pet Pass design reduces the thermal loses by 25-30% when compared to the “Worlds Best Selling Pet Door”.

Some dog door manufactures make claims that a double movable flap provides additional R-value due to a dead air space between the door flaps. When you talk about “two flaps” being more effective than one flap by creating dead air space, there are many factors to consider. In the case of a pet door, heat will be lost or gained anytime the door is used. How well the door is sealed will affect how much air infiltrates around the edges while it is closed, and how well-insulated the pet flap is will affect how much heat is transferred by conduction through the door. How fast the wind is blowing, the temperature difference between warm and cool areas, and the frequency of use will impact how fast heat is transferred as well. If you have a pet that prefers to stand or lay in the doorway keeping it open, you are back to a “hole in the wall” regardless of how well it works when closed. Testing indicates that due to the air leakage around the flaps of a double flap pet door; a dead air space is not truly created and therefore additional R-value cannot be substantiated.