Sunday 14 August 2022

DIY very low cost insulated room dividing / shelter Mk 1 panels (DIGRS Project) to save energy in the winter / reduce heat in summer


 I'm still working on the D.I.G.R.S. Project (DIVIDE- rooms with portable insulated panels, fabric or green walls to save energy & aid function) 

 Please note: this is just an experiment & not guidance or instruction. There are many ways of making an insulated panel with a wide variety of materials.  I encourage others to urgently experiment as winter is nearly here and comment on this blog with their ideas.

The panels can be used to make small indoor shelters as well as room dividers. Trellis and green walls can help insulate external walls and I am experimenting with these too, encouraged by articles like 'Green walls can reduce heat lost by buildings by over 30% in temperate climates' 

Our main unique selling point is having a system using 30,000+ metal hinges and corner strengthening brackets in stock for making insulating panel frames, available for 30% or less of cheapest retail cost.


The first panels below are not fire resistant, though may have certain elements that are ( aluminium tape & foil) as the low budget does not allow it.

When time allows and more funding is available, I will experinment with  a fire resistant panel using drywall light steel framing & fire proof rigid PIR foam or mineral wool. Some previous work with drywall framing panels

 I have recently made some prototype panels and worked with local fencing co's to reduce their waste by reusing wood clearance stock & off cuts.

We have several million new nails & screws, approx 5000 x 1.8m long treated wood battems, 10k x bzp metal hinges, 20k  x corner reinforcing brackets / screws & 100 mtr of draught excluding tape for sale at low cost, usually 30-50%+ less than the cheapest retailer price, and are still looking for partner groups to distribute these to diy makers / users as a matter of urgency.

If funding is located, materials will be distributed for free and we welcome donations Contact for further details

Below are Mk1 plastic & Mk1 wood panels with a 1.8m high wood batton frame, other is with  plastic / grp composite door edge strip. A trellis frame is belwo that for outside.

 As the first aim is for low icome groups to make their own panels easily with a minimum of cost & tools, i have experimented with corner joints of metal staples from hand staplers & fibreglass reinforced sticky tape to support the frame  (see pics) .

These hold the frame in place until the corner bracket & hinge are screwed on, which hold the corner joint securely. Then a sandwich of several layers of used cardboard are used for insulation. which can be wrapped in domestic or thicker catering aluminium foil for extra insulation / fire resistance ( see pic) 

Here in the NW & N Wales, I have identified several cheap suppliers of materials for panels 

Low cost Material Suppliers    1. Fabrics

Thick fabric was sourced for £1 a mtr from a local shop clearing stock (the T Shirt shop open wed to sat , next to Grey & Pink records in Brook st chester who have several thousand mtrs for sale at same price) , which is stapled to the frame.

 The 8 Abakhan stores have some lost cost quality fabrics.

2. Drywall steel framing suppliers (may have minimum quantities) 

Bulkdrylining (Shrewsbury)

3. PIR Rigid Foam  Suppliers (seconds & clearance stock )

Seconds & Co - mid Wales

3. Metal Sided PIR Rigid Foam Sandwich Panels Clearance Stock 

Actionclad  Nr Derby 

4. Kitchen & Bathroom Door Panels, Cabinets & Remanufactured Paint

Recipro (Wallasey Docks Wirral) 

5. Hexayurt Type Walls  - Foil Sided PIR Rigid Foam Panels Taped Together 

Perhaps the panels seams could be made more fire resistant with  intumescent tape / strips as used in fire doors (research needed)

My Panel Prototype Pics

Thick indoor fabric covered grp / plastic composite door edge strip frame insulated panel mk 1

 Indoor (leather look ) thick fabric covered wood frame insulated panel mk 1

Close up (without corner support bracket or hing/ joint gasket seal)

Close up (without corner support bracket or hing/ joint gasket seal)

Rear view (uninsulated)

Corners can be strengthened with angle brackets or an outer corner bracket that the hinge screws to (see first pic) we experimented with staples & grp reinforced tape to hold the wood frame together before we added the outer corner bracket, as this method does not require an angle bracket (see pics below)

Rear view (uninsulated)

Above pic is corner stapled together with hand stapler then with fibreglass reinforcrd sticky tape (fgst) wrapped around to hold it.

Below is cardboard taped with fgst, attempting to stop it gaping, A staple, bolt or stictch may be reqired in middle. 

Belwo is gaffer tape, sealing air into cardboard to aid insualtion, this can be stapled to wood or further gaffer tape can added round frame either side (not shown in pic)  connecting cardboard & frame to hold insualtion in place

Hand stapling of DES before tape added

Wood frame before corners support & fabric added. Note: the corner support wood piece was salvaged from offcuts from the smaller centre horizontal beam, as its smaller than the top & bottom . If a shorter panel is requiredthe bottom beam can be cut to be insided the vertical beams & offcuts used to support 2 corners as well 

plastic frame with tape reinforced corner at bottom. (Note: it would likely be best ot add inside plastic corner support before taping ) 

Metal corner bracket installed with hinge attached and foam draught excluder tape added to seam

aluminium foil & sticky tape covered cardbard panel, attached ot frame by alu tape ( note gaffer tape would be stronger but not fire resisatant )    

 After being filled with insualtion, this panel could be placed to insulate a wall. If a room divider is required, the other side could be covered with fabric stapeld in place (perhaps seam hidden iunder gap sealing gasket / foam )

Other side of hing & corner bracket showing 2 wood & 1 self drilling screw through metal . Hinge can be attached in different ways ie hidden in side gap

For external wall insualtion & greenery, I have been experimenting with trellis from local fence co pallet wood spacers (horizontal wood beams in pic) 

If you contact local fencing co's of timber merchants, they may have available free wood sticks / spacers that are used to seperate timber planks, I used the free 1.2m cross beams from sticks on the trellis pic below 

I will be looking at green walls generally, being  encouraged by this article - Green walls can reduce heat lost by buildings by over 30% in temperate climates

Below is Mk 1 trellis prototype. 1.8m h x 1.2m w

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