We design instruments and laboratory equipment for our own research and testing projects – and for other researchers. Our experience allows us to provide a high level of customization to address specific research goals.

Designed by Experts

Because we do research ourselves, we understand what a given question needs in order to get a solid answer. It may be a particular sensor configuration installed in a test hut. It may be an adapted standardized test with an adapted piece of test equipment. Or it may be something completely new.

Whatever the solution, we will work with you at the level you need, to complement your team’s existing resources. We often travel to construct or install equipment on site, and can assist with monitoring and data collection from remote locations.

Designed for Research

Our instruments and laboratory equipment are designed for use in long-term building science research projects. The design and fabrication process for these components has been refined by building scientists and skilled technicians to ensure accuracy and durability, including under field conditions.

Find examples of our work below or contact us to find out more.

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Climate Chamber

Our climate chambers are custom-built with many optional capabilities.

The RDH-BSL team has led the design and construction of custom climate chambers for advanced building industry research, including equipment for leading research universities, private R&D facilities, and BSL’s own laboratory. Our custom-design approach allows us to accommodate a wide range of research needs. Our chambers have included:

  • Roll-open design to facilitate construction of and access to test walls
  • Test walls ranging in size from 2′ to 12′ wide and 2′ to 10′ tall
  • Test wall construction from light wood or steel frame to heavy masonry commercial or residential wall assemblies
  • Temperature control on “climate” side from -20°C to +50°C (-4°F to 122°F)
  • Humidity control from 20% to 90% RH
  • Custom-built system of air pressure system to generate, control and measure airflow through ventilated space
  • Draw-through fans to create more realistic airflow
  • Solar array to simulate solar heating
  • Spray rack system for wetting and wetting under air pressure tests

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Drainage Balance

Drainage balances are used to quantify drained vs. stored water and to determine drying rates.

The balance works by gravimetrically measuring the mass of water in a test wall panel. Test walls can also be outfitted with moisture content sensors to help understand the performance and distribution of water. Balances of this kind were pioneered by members of the RDH-BSL team (see, e.g. Schumacher et al 2003, Smegal 2006). They have been used in both commercial and academic research and are being continuously adapted for new purposes. For example, recent research has involved: instrumenting test walls with moisture content and relative humidity sensors; adding wetting systems; and using spray racks in combination with a balance.

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Relocatable Building Enclosure Test Station (RBETS)

RBETS are custom-built by RDH-BSL and can be shipped to most locations in North America.

RDH-BSL has built and operated several RBETS facilities for academic and commercial field research. One of the advantages of testing walls in a field test station is that the interior relative humidity and temperature can be controlled to a wide range of conditions, and the test walls can be tested under more rigorous moisture loads, and even to failure. The RBETS allows multiple different test walls to be installed side by side, to determine any performance differences based on insulation, sheathing, etc. Custom designs are possible to accommodate specific research needs. Note that an RBETS cannot be relocated during testing.

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Small-Scale Field Exposure Test Huts

RDH-BSL can design, build, and install a range of small-scale structures for field exposure testing, complete with data acquisition and weather station systems.

The test huts range from miniature test huts (like the one pictured here) to boxier structures that can test two to four wall or roof assembly panels. The huts can be fixed or trailer-mounted. As with larger test huts, the interior relative humidity and temperature can be controlled and the test walls can be exposed to deliberately increased moisture loads. But their smaller size means less cost and time to construct, and also allows them to be moved in between experiments.

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Driving Rain Gauge

Understanding and managing driving rain is critical to the durability of building enclosures.

Accurate measurement of driving rain can be important both in practice (for risk assessment purposes) and in research (where it may be necessary to establish boundary conditions). RDH-BSL has designed a unique tipping bucket rain gauge that is effective and long-lasting, with aluminum construction and initial readings as low as 0.05mm of driving rain. Each rain gauge is approximately 12″ wide x 17″ high x 2.5″ deep (30 x 43 x 6 cm) and comes with a standard 12m cable. Driving rain gauges can be customized for specific research needs at an additional cost. Please note that these gauges must be connected to a data acquisition system that records pulses.

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Vapor Permeance Testing Trays

These reusable trays are designed for wet or dry cup testing in accordance with ASTM E96.

ASTM E96 is used to determine the transmission of water vapor through a variety of materials, such as paper, plastic, fiberboard, and wood products. Two tiers allow for easy placement of water or desiccant in the bottom tier and a material sample in the top tier. Trays are made of clear plastic and can be reused multiple times. Vapor permeance testing trays are sold in sets of 10 and are available in three sizes to accommodate different material samples: deep (accommodates test sample up to 12” x 12” x 2”), shallow large (test sample up to 12” x 12” x 1”), and shallow small (test sample up to 6” x 6” x 1”). Custom dimensions are also available.

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Moisture Content, Relative Humidity, and Temperature Sensors

Designed and built for building material and building system research, in the lab or in the field.

Our sensors can be manufactured in several different configurations to suit your experimental requirements. For example, units that consist of two moisture content pins and one pair of temperature sensors on a single lead allow more efficient installation and wiring when multiple moisture content and temperature sensors are required in close proximity, such as measuring the moisture content at two different depths in the same material. Moisture content pins can also be provided embedded in a wood wafer, for use in monitoring moisture on the surface of non-wood-based materials such as XPS, exterior gypsum, steel framing, or masonry.

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