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Ray-Core Walls

Brett Moyer | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Does anyone out there have any experience with Ray-Core Walls?
http://www.raycore.com/

Apparently they are a SIP-like wall/roof panel with R-7.25 polyurethane foam.

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Replies

  1. Riversong | | #1

    No personal experience, but this appears to be a double vapor barrier foam panel that has designed-in thermal bridges (studs).

    The only advantage of this over foamed in place urethane wall systems is that it's full thickness and formed in a controlled environment for uniformity. But I don't believe their claim of better than R-7 per inch. The aged R-value of rigid polyurethane (the value required by the FTC for advertising) is generally around R-6.5.

  2. chuck | | #2

    A friend put me onto this web site, thanks!
    Living in my second Ray-Core home. First house in 1996 had Ray-Core panels. All electric and heated for about $250.00 per heating season. I was so impressed that in 99 I had a custom 4000 sqft home built using Ray-Core again, with a geo thermal HVAC system. Was at the job site when the panels were assembled. Looked easy and fast. We put a meter on the HVAC system to monitor actual usage and logged it for 2 years. The results were impressive. Today I am aware of the thermal drift issues everyone talks about. Although I do not see it as such an issue I noticed on the Ray-Core web site they offer a staggered stud design panel that totally eliminates that problem. I know I will build again someday and when I do, I may look at that new panel design.

  3. Riversong | | #3

    Chuck,

    You're anecdotal heating costs are meaningless without climate data and house size and configuration.

    And the staggered stud panel doesn't eliminate thermal bridging, but reduces it.

    The primary problem with this system that I see is that the wood framing is sandwiched between two vapor barriers (the surface foil), which is almost universally considered unacceptable because of the high potential for trapping moisture.

    And I believe their R-values are inflated.

  4. chuck | | #4

    Im not a technical guy, just a very happy home owner that answered the man’s question “does anyone out there have experience with Ray-Core walls?”. I have experience with 2 homes and for a decade and a half. I like the product. My friends and neighbors envy my low utility bills for the size of my home. It sounds to me that you have personal issues with the product and should contact the company to debate them. Forgive me for being offended by your reply, but this is not the forum for beating up or demeaning sincere individuals responding to a simple post.

  5. Robert Hronek | | #5

    How are the panel joints air sealed. It is also not what I think of with a sip. To me a sip incorporates OSB and elimates thernal bridging.

    Ray-core appears more like traditional framing with closed cell foam preapplied.

  6. Riversong | | #6

    Chuck,

    I don't have a clue how you could misconstrue my statements as "demeaning". They were factual, logical and accurate. I have no "personal" issue with this wall system, but significant technical issues with what is a very poorly engineered wall panel.

    Anecdotal information with no context is meaningless. That's a simple fact.

  7. chuck | | #7

    Mr. Hronek,
    Like I said before, I am not a tech guy and it would be best to contact the manufacturer to be sure but my builder used a sealant/adhesive between the panels and then taped the joints with a foil type tape. You are right, the panels are somewhere between sandwich panels and conventional construction.

  8. Paul Snarr | | #8

    I have been investigating SIP systems for some time now in preparation of building a home and an office. I have been highly impressed with Ray-Core's product and plan on using it on both these applications. I also have friends who have Ray-Core houses and have $40/mo heating bills on their 2500 sf homes. I believe the adhesion of foam to wood carries risk and Ray-Core uses a totally different system. The structure is sound, efficient, and what I am looking for. Several homes in my area have tried different applications and those with the Ray-Core system seem much happier with their decision. One of the things that got me looking at them was a write up on the front page of our newspaper discussing the use of Ray-Core SIPS in the Habitat for Humanities homes. I believe they would use what is most safe and energy efficient and this is what I desire in my buildings.

  9. TJ Elder | | #9

    Paul, if you are interested in choosing construction materials that are safe and energy efficient, you could get plenty of good feedback about building science and environmental considerations from various people on this website, but you'd need to approach the situation from a standpoint of asking for input. What you have done is announce your opinions in a way that reads more like an advertisement for this product, and I would guess that most of the reactions from green building professionals would not be so positive. For example read the third post above.

  10. Riversong | | #10

    I agree that Paul's "testimonial" sounds more like an promotional pitch than useful objective information, particularly since he mentions heating costs with no context of climate or other thermal envelope elements, or heating system or fuel type. Anecdotal "evidence" such as this is of no value.

    Additionally, the Ray-Core prefab wall panels are not what is universally known as SIPS, and they are most certainly a foam-against-wood system. Habitat for Humanity (a wonderful program for creating very affordable homes) chooses building systems largely on the basis of cost and speed of erection with largely unskilled volunteers, so that is no basis for determining whether a building system has other vitally important qualities.

  11. Travis Staker | | #11

    To answer the forum's original question "Does anyone out there have any experience with Ray-Core Walls?" I have. I am a builder (Staker Construction) that has built 6 homes using Raycore. I have been happy with the product. My costumers over the years have been happy with there homes & heating bills as well.

  12. Skylar Swinford | | #12

    This summer I came across a home under construction that was shooting for LEED certification. It looks like this home used the Ray-Core wall or a something similar. The builder was very proud of his radiant barrier, polyurethane, SIP wall system; however, I was not impressed. In fact I was baffled by the fact that a "green" builder would choose this wall system over the countless other superior configurations that are available. I've uploaded some jobsite photos of the installed product, see link below.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/skylarswinford/RayCore?authkey=Gv1sRgCLO088yrwvSg5gE&feat=directlink

  13. TJ Elder | | #13

    Skylar, this looks like foil faced polyiso cut to fit between the framing. Lots of gaps along the edges, and the foil face was removed in many areas. It is a strange approach. I'd guess the builder was proud of the center-of-wall R-value, which would be unusually high. Questions would be: did the builder seal all these gaps? How were services integrated?

  14. Skylar Swinford | | #14

    Thomas,

    I'm assuming the contractor sealed the gaps to the best of his ability. I believe they made room for the services by routing/cutting chunks of foam where necessary. All of this seems strange to me as well.

  15. chuck | | #15

    Looking at Skyler’s pictures it appears to be some type of poly urethane foam with some foil. It does appear to have been crudely cut and placed between studs and looks like it was planed or scrapped.

    Ray Core panels have the studs molded into the panels already and it would not make sense to cut them up and put them between a previously studded wall. This completed project does not have any similarity in appearance to the framed Ray Core walls in the homes built for me. Cutting the panels was only needed for placement of windows and doors and the walls had virtually no voids as everything fit together tightly and neatly. All joints were sealed and taped. A quick, easy, neat form of construction. This link shows what a framed Ray Core wall looks like:

    http://www.raycore.com/projects.php

  16. Skylar Swinford | | #16

    Chuck,

    The pictures on the raycore website look like the same product to me. I really don't think the studs are "molded into the panel". It looks more like the studs are cut into the product. Would this be a correct observation? The product clearly isn't injected, poured, or sprayed.

  17. chuck | | #17

    Skyler,
    With Ray Core panels the studs are molded in place. Before my first home in 1996, I toured a Ray Core plant and saw the process. The studs were put into a mold that was put in a press and then poly urethane foam chemicals were injected into the mold. The panels came out of the press as one complete unit including foam and studs. Through the years I have purchased over 220 Ray Core panels for my personal residences. I find it hard to believe that a builder would cut up studded panels to insert between his existing framed walls. That defeats the whole concept of Ray Core panels, which is framing and insulation in one modular panel.

  18. Lucas Durand | | #18

    The studs were put into a mold that was put in a press and then poly urethane foam chemicals were injected into the mold. The panels came out of the press as one complete unit including foam and studs.

    A monstrous hybrid is born.

  19. Skylar Swinford | | #19

    Chuck,

    How does the aluminum foil end up in the mix?

  20. chuck | | #20

    Skyler,
    Im sorry I was not more clear in my description in post 17. The panels came out of the press complete with foam, studs and foil.

  21. Reiner Hoyer | | #21

    Anyone use Raycore panels in Ontario Canada?

  22. Steven Estergreen | | #22

    I spoke to Ray-Core yesterday, and their current system is staggered studs (16" or 24" on each side, offset by half of the spacing. Structurally, it would seem that this configuration would work well with Advanced Framing technique, with joists and rafters aligned with the outer studs, for single-story houses.It would seem like the exterior sheathing would be the material most at risk, since it would be likely to be exposed to moisture and would have 90% contact with the foil facing on the inside. And, it would be even more likely to suffer from retained moisture if an additional water/vapor/air barrier were placed on the outside. Any comments? Anyone done any research on that topic for anything approaching that configuration? Is a good drainage plane adequate to protect it? One thing I like about the Ray-Core system is that you have the column strength of natural wood members, not the compressive strength of EPS plus a possibly questionable bond between the EPS and OSB, which has no compressive strength at all if the bond fails.

  23. Jim Reeves | | #23

    Wow. Typical forum banter. Only a few answers that dealt with the question about the Ray-core panels. Idiotic. Why do I bother joining sites like this that are plagued with know-it-alls and people who insist on being provocative. Oops! I'm being an ass like so many here. SORRY! LMAO.

    Chuck, you are an [insult deleted by GBA editor].

  24. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #24

    Jim,
    GBA is a forum to discuss construction and design issues. Personal insults directed at other GBA readers or commenters are not allowed or tolerated.

  25. Jim Reeves | | #25

    No personal experience, but this appears to be a double vapor barrier foam panel that has designed-in thermal bridges (studs).
    The only advantage of this over foamed in place urethane wall systems is that it's full thickness and formed in a controlled environment for uniformity. But I don't believe their claim of better than R-7 per inch. The aged R-value of rigid polyurethane (the value required by the FTC for advertising) is generally around R-6.5"

    Isn't it funny how a person can simply say or write, "I don't believe..." And poof! It becomes fact. idk. I'm not here to promot Ray-core but I viewed their vid on youtube and they said they used a standard protocol to measure their panels (against other forms of insulation.) So, if you feel good to "believe" something. Okay. If it feels good then believe it. I would prefer to answer to the facts.

    Perhaps Ray-core achieves the R-7 rating because of the radiant barrier on either side of their panels? Did you consider that? Nah. You didn't. Another fart producing idiotic comment.

  26. Jim Reeves | | #26

    QUOTE: "10.
    Helpful?
    -1
    +Vote up! -Vote down!
    I agree that Paul's "testimonial" sounds more like an promotional pitch than useful objective information, particularly since he mentions heating costs with no context of climate or other thermal envelope elements, or heating system or fuel type. Anecdotal "evidence" such as this is of no value.
    Additionally, the Ray-Core prefab wall panels are not what is universally known as SIPS, and they are most certainly a foam-against-wood system. Habitat for Humanity (a wonderful program for creating very affordable homes) chooses building systems largely on the basis of cost and speed of erection with largely unskilled volunteers, so that is no basis for determining whether a building system has other vitally important qualities."

    [Comment deleted by GBA editor] Habby Tat does rely on volunteers--in a big way. But you're outta line suggesting the home is constructed, planned, inspected et al all at the hands of volunteers. That is simply a crazyass comment. [Comments deleted by GBA editor]

  27. Joe McCarthy | | #27

    I was pretty much on board with buying Raycore for the 4500sf home I am building in downstate NY, which is steel framed, so I actually don't need any structural value out of the exterior walls other than for supporting the windows and doors (and supporting the walls themselves). I am also going with a wire lathe and stucco on the exterior - Raycore told me I could direct apply the wire lathe and did not have to use any sheathing if I did not need the shear strength, but I am hesitant to do so. After reading all of these comments, I don't think Raycore is a smart idea as the R value I would attain for a 5.5" wall doesn't seem worth it to me for the cost of $6/sf. I was thinking of just staggering two rows of 2x4 timber stick built walls back to back, with 2' wide, 3 1/2" thick rigid polyurethane foam in between, so that I eliminate the thermal bridging, similar to what Raycore offers (with obviously not as good a seal at the 2x4's, but I would look to spray along the edges by hand). Would this achieve close to R35? Would I bond them together with adhesive? Vapor barrier/foil between? Or perhaps go 3" and 3" with 1" furring between to give an air pocket between (would give me a chase for wiring too that way)? Thanks,

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