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Electrical Wiring for a SIP Panel Home


Summary: An introduction to installing electrical wiring with SIP panels and some of the great insulation values these panels provide.

The Basics of Building with Structured Insulated Panels

Integrating Electrical Wiring

While there are some specific techniques that electricians and sub-contractors will need to become familiar with, building with SIPs will not create a significant roadblock in your construction and are definitely worth your consideration.

wiring interior sip walls Most SIP Panels provide standard 1 1/2” diameter electrical chases at 16” and 45” from the floor. Vertical chases are located 4’ on center. Special chases can also be installed into SIP Panels (i.e. for home theatres, special appliance and/or tool needs). Wiring is simply pulled through the chases during the construction process.

SIP Panel Preparations and Wire Pulling
In commercial construction, wiring is pulled through conduit. "Chases" or channels are built into the foam cores of a SIP panel that work like conduit. Electricians use a fish tape and feed the wires through panel chases without compressing insulation or drilling through studs. Prior to installing wall panels, it is best to know the location of the "home run". This is the wire that goes from the service panel to an area that is served by one circuit. At this location, a 1 1/2" hole is drilled at the center of the sole plate through the sub floor or panel floor. This is done for all home run circuits.
When ready to wire, cut out all receptacles and switches first. At the "home run" location measure 16" and 45" from the floor. Cut a 2" deep by 8" by 8" hole centered on the vertical and horizontal chase. Insert a flat bar 1" to 2" in the saw kerf and pry the hole out. Save this piece

Bring your "home run" wire up through the sole plate and out the access hole. Pull enough wire out to go past the first receptacles or switch outlet. Bend a 4" to 6" loop at the end of the wire and push the wire horizontally down the chase to the last outlet. Leave 12" sticking out and pull a 12" to 14" loop out of each outlet.

From below, pull down on the wire at the "home run" location until the wire is tight. Make as many runs as needed, not to exceed 3 for #12 or 4 for #14 per electrical chase. When done, spray low expanding foam in the access hole and put the cut out piece back.
Insulation Values and Energy Efficiency Insulation Value of Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

R-Value is a measure of a material's resistance to thermal movement. The higher the number the better the material is at insulating. According to the Dept. of Energy, thermal breaks such as corners, windows, doors, and stud walls dramatically reduce the stated R-Value of virtually every product on the market except SIPs. As an example, a 2x6-stud wall 24” OC with R-19 fiberglass bats has an R-Value of 13.7. A six-inch SIP wall has an R-Value of 24.7. Simply put, a 6" SIP wall out performs a 6" stud wall by 58%. SIPs have the following ratings, as viewed in the image (below)...
R-Value of SIP

Energy Efficiency of Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

The energy efficiency of an entire wall assembly has been documented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The testing method takes into account energy losses for the structural members, corners, joints and around windows, not just the value of the insulation. Results of these tests are shown below:
wall types

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