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Passive solar house design for homes warmed by the sun's heat

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With a southern orientation and well placed windows, passive solar homes can potentially reduce heating requirements by an easy 25% without adding any cost by designing around a good Passive Solar Index score

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for Ecohome Published: June 5, 2012, 7:32 a.m.Last updated: Feb. 25, 2020, 10:05 p.m.
Mike Reynolds

Homes heated by the sun''s just about design, and it isn''s important to keep in mind that passive solar heating is not something that should intimidate you in the design phase, and it isn''all or nothing''s Green Building Guides 

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for To see more videos from EcoHome demonstrating how to build Passive Solar Houses, Passive House & LEED Platinum Homes, see here 

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Comments (4)

for 1 last update 04 Jul 2020 AA
Anonymous March for 1 last update 2020/07/04 23, 2014, 1:38 p.m.March 23, 2014, 1:38 p.m. Reply

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for It is interesting how passive solar is so very often overlooked.

Ecohome April the 1 last update 2020/07/04 24, 2015, 5:57 p.m.April 24, 2015, 5:57 p.m. Reply

Agreed. With a little thought in the design phase you can have lots of natural light and lower heating bills, its win win.

T
Tim hughes Feb. 28, 2019, 9:12 p.m. Reply

I am am new to this site, but I''m feeling inspired to revisit some of our design issues.

Mike Reynolds March 4, 2019, 10:26 a.m. Reply

for 1 last update 2020/07/04   

Hi Tim, that''passive solar''ll find a lot of materials, as well as related topics on the sides of articles and at the end of every page. If you don''re looking for feel free to drop a question in our advice column.

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for We are building our next demo house this spring (in Wakefield QC about a half hour out of Ottawa), it will be partially heated by the sun, but to try something new we will also be dedicating a portion of the south wall to solar-air panels that will feed pre-heated air into air tubes in the floor. you can see an installation video here for inspiration if you like. Best regards, Mike

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Building a slab on grade foundation for a Passive House or Zero Net Energy home…

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What flooring options work with a passive solar design?

 

Collecting solar heat from south facing windows is a great way to save money and energy on heating, and a concrete floor is one of the best surfaces to collect and store heat. But the energy gains are not nearly significant enough to be worth living on a floor that you just don’t like. You may have seen this already, but here is our page on passive heating –

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for Passive solar heating - how to warm your home with the sun

Even if you put a floor covering on a concrete slab floor, you will still get the temperature balancing effects of thermal mass as long as it is insulated below, and therefore kept inside your building envelope. Darker colors are ideal for absorbing heat, but within the confines of a home, the heat collection advantage of darker floors is not that pronounced. 

The reason is that once energy has entered your home (as in light through the window), it’s in. It will then either be absorbed by the floor, or reflected by the floor, in which case it will then hit another surface in your home and the heat will be partially absorbed there. Some light will be reflected towards and out the window again, but you are pretty much splitting hairs at that point.

All that is to say, don’t worry too much about the color of your floor, or by putting a floor covering over your slab that makes you more comfortable and happy.

Radiant heated floors perform best when there is nothing to slow the transfer of heat, like wood or cork flooring, but again, the effects aren’t so pronounced that you should fret about it. Best is to inform an HVAC designer ahead of time if you plan to add a floor covering so they can determine the R value and how it is affected, but at worst it will slow the delivery of heat slightly, but as long as you keep the house at a certain temperature you really wouldn’t notice much difference. Wood floors would also be more comfortable when the floor isn’t heated, due to the reduced conductivity of heat between your feet and the floor. 

Our latest demonstration house is a prefab kit house seated on a solar air heated floor with a polished concrete slab. High-performance prefab homes tend to be more affordable than site-built homes, and they are available in Ontario if you’re interested. you can see our Passive House and LEED ready prefab homes here, a few of which are oriented for passive solar heat gain, so maybe something there will meet your needs.  Here are a few more pages you may like while doing your research, hope that helps!

 

 

How do you calculate window height and location for passive solar heating?

What you need to find is the hypothenuse, so if you can’t find your high school trigonometry text book you can use an online calculator, but this does require inputting the correct angles and distances. '' as they, the answer is only as accurate as the figures you punch in. That would require determining the angle of the sun based on your latitude, and knowing the exact overhang you want on your roof, and the height of the windows. Before your head explodes though, check out this for 1 last update 2020/07/04 page. I promise it will be more fun to read than a page on trigonometry - What you need to find is the hypothenuse, so if you can’t find your high school trigonometry text book you can use an online calculator, but this does require inputting the correct angles and distances. '' as they, the answer is only as accurate as the figures you punch in. That would require determining the angle of the sun based on your latitude, and knowing the exact overhang you want on your roof, and the height of the windows. Before your head explodes though, check out this page. I promise it will be more fun to read than a page on trigonometry - 

DIY Round Outdoor Dining Tablehow to DIY Round Outdoor Dining Table for The basic Concept Passive Solar Home Design

If it''t have much to offer on that front unfortunately, and we've never been in contact with the the 1 last update 2020/07/04 new owner. If it''t have much to offer on that front unfortunately, and we've never been in contact with the new owner. 

You may have seen this already, but here is a page on phase change building materials, I still think there is tremendous potential for material phase changes to be used for energy efficiency, there are just no mainstream products readily available on the market to date. 

Our new demo house has a heat storage solution you may find interesting, it has a radiant floor heated with air tubes rather than hydronic, and those tubes will be fed with air warmed by a solar air-heating panel, so we are using the floor as a thermal battery to store solar heat. Here is a video of the installation. 

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