Learn Passive Solar House Design – Your 5 Key Ingredients For Effective Design

Passive solar house design provides a platform which we can build on in order to insure we are building in a sustainable manner in harmony with our environment. In your home you have windows, walls, and floors which can all be designed to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter while limiting direct solar gain in the summer.

There are five main aspects of passive solar house design. Each performs a particular task to insure a holistic approach to balancing energy, waste, and comfort.

The stack affect for passive solar house design works based on a fundamental law, which states, heat moves from warmer materials to cooler ones until there is no longer a temperature difference between the two elements. Architects, Designers, and homeowners can take advantage of this principle based on the thermal laws of conduction, convection, and radiation, distributing heat throughout the conditioned space.

Your five main characteristics of passive solar house design are your

  • collectors
  • absorbers
  • thermal mass
  • distribution
  • control.

Collectors: Your collectors include what devices, apertures, or systems do you have in place to harness solar and or wind to mitigate energy loads throughout the life of the building. Windows are a good example as to what a collector means. The material gaining the thermal heat from the sun entering the window creates additional thermal mass square footage.

Absorbers: These include devices such as a tromb (water storage tanks for heat) wall used to heat a material for heat storage.

Thermal Mass: while similar to absorbers, thermal mass is the outside layer of a material and its ability to absorb and retain heat. In conjunction with absorbers thermal mass is used to act as a thermal fly wheel, mitigating temperature swings and added load to the mechanical systems (if there are any!)

Distribution: How does your passive solar house breath? Sounds strange, but its true, buildings do breath. Distributing warm / cold air, water and heat are the primary functions of a standard mechanical system. When distribution becomes targeted to zones, great achievements in energy savings can be reached, simultaneously eliminating tons of volume from the overall design, which means reduced consumption and waste.

Finally, Control: How you control your photovoltaic, air, and water used to be complicated. However, we now have devices which allow homeowners the convenience of operating their entire house’s infrastructure systems from one convenient spot. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Whether your thinking about designing your own passive home, incorporating just a few features, or remodeling an existing home, passive solar house design will save you money, improve our environment, and provide a healthier home for you and your family.