Green Homes Raleigh NC
What is Passive Solar?
How Can Passive Solar Elements Be Included in Your New Home?
A passive solar home can obtain some or even all of it's heating and cooling from the sun, using a variety of materials and construction concepts.
Does a Passive Solar home use solar panels?
A Passive Solar home uses the windows, walls, and floor to collect heat in the winter and reject heat in the summer. Solar photovoltaic power can be added, but is not required for a home to be defined as "passive solar".
A Passive Solar home can be almost entirely heated by the sun, or can simply have south-facing windows that provide some fraction of the home's heat.
What are the Five Basic Passive Solar Principles?
1. Orientation - Passive Solar Homes
Just remember - it's warmer in the South. Making sure a home is facing towards the south is very important in a passive solar design. A passive solar home is also designed to be "longer", stretching from east to west, in order to take more advantage of the sun.
Garages, laundry rooms, and other "lower usage" rooms are often placed on the east or west side of the home. The kitchen is often placed on the northern side of the home, as it generates it's own heat. And large, commonly used living spaces are placed on the south side of the home.
2. Overhangs and Shading - Passive Solar Homes
Shade is used to keep sun OFF the windows in the summer, and ON the windows in the winter. Remember, the sun is high overhead in the summer, but follows a lower, southern arc in the winter.
Trees, vines, shrubs, and other landscaping can also help keep the home cool in summer. And window coverings are very important to keep heat out in the warm weather - including skylight covers!
3. Insulation - Passive Solar Homes
Insulation helps keep heat IN on cold days, and OUT on warm days. The right kind of insulation is doubly important in a passive solar home.
Consider an all-inclusive systems approach to insulation like Energy Wise. No matter what type of insulation is used, proper installation is very important.
4. Windows - Passive Solar Homes
Windows are an important part of solar design. A correctly designed passive solar home will include the majority of windows on the south side of the home, to collect that important winter heat. However, too many windows can prevent the home from staying cool in the summer!
Remember those window shades and covers too. In a passive solar home, insulated window coverings are worth the investment.
5. Thermal Mass - Passive Solar Homes
Sit on a brick wall during the summer - it's warm, right? Materials like brick, stone, tile, and concrete collect heat, but also work well to distribute heat (or cool) temperatures throughout the day and night.
A well-designed thermal mass can include a large stone or brick fireplace, a thick concrete floor (called a Solar Slab), tile or brick flooring, or even a masonry or concrete wall.
Interested in a Passive Solar Home in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area? Call 919-278-8070, or request more information today!
You may also be interested in these popular green building topics: