Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting and More Using Natural Flows

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The design considerations for these three functions are very different, and accommodating all three functions requires compromises. Experienced passive solar home designers plan for summer comfort as well as winter heating. A passive solar house requires careful design and siting, which vary by local climate conditions.

If you are considering passive solar design for a new home or a major remodel, consult an architect familiar with passive solar techniques. Skip to main content.

Passive Solar Home Design. This North Carolina home gets most of its space heating from the passive solar design, but the solar thermal system top of roof supplies both domestic hot water and a secondary radiant floor heating system. Photo courtesy of Jim Schmid Photography. Energy Efficiency First. Site Selection. To be successful, a passive solar home design must include some basic elements that work together: Properly oriented windows.

Typically, windows or other devices that collect solar energy should face within 30 degrees of true south and should not be shaded during the heating season by other buildings or trees from 9 a. During the spring, fall, and cooling season, the windows should be shaded to avoid overheating. Be sure to keep window glass clean. Thermal mass.

Ventilation architecture

Thermal mass in a passive solar home -- commonly concrete, brick, stone, and tile -- absorbs heat from sunlight during the heating season and absorbs heat from warm air in the house during the cooling season. In well-insulated homes in moderate climates, the thermal mass inherent in home furnishings and drywall may be sufficient, eliminating the need for additional thermal storage materials.


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Make sure that objects do not block sunlight on thermal mass materials. Distribution mechanisms. Solar heat is transferred from where it is collected and stored to different areas of the house by conduction, convection, and radiation. In some homes, small fans and blowers help distribute heat. Darker colors absorb more heat than lighter colors, and are a better choice for thermal mass in passive solar homes. Control strategies. Refining the Design.

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Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting and More Using Natural Flows

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