What is Passive Solar, and How Can Passive Solar Be Included in Your New Home?

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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 useGreen Home Builders Triangle - Green Homes and Features - Passive Solard 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.

Browse Passive Solar Floor Plans Here

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:

Green Home Building in the Triangle

What is a Green Home?

What Is Geothermal?  Geothermal News and Information

Passive Solar Homes and Ideas


Copyright 2009 Stanton Homes.  All information current as of posting date. 
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Articles copyright Stanton Homes 2006-2018.  Unauthorized use is not permitted.  Provided for informational purposes only, no claims are made by Stanton Homes regarding the validity of any statements.  Please note:  all listing information per MLS, and current as of posting date.  Information subject to change.  Stanton Homes does not make claims to ownership of  any lot listings, but can work with homebuyers to purchase available lots and build.  Home plans to be approved on an individual basis, subject to neighborhood restrictive covenants and lot restrictions.  Ask for further information regarding any community, lot or floor plan.  Photos represent typical homes and details of each neighborhood, to help highlight different options available in the Raleigh/Triangle area.  No claim of ownership is made to homes or land pictured.  



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  1. Christine McInerney 07/29/2009 02:00 PM
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Show All Comments
Mike Hogan
The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty - Mechanicsville, VA

Penny- forget my question on your other post about thermal mass. I guess I should have read this post first. Good stuff!

Jul 26, 2009 01:35 PM #1
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Glad we were able to help!


Jul 26, 2009 11:46 PM #2
Christine McInerney
Great Life RE - Knoxville, TN
The McInerney Team, Knoxville TN Homes For Sale

Great post about an important topic- I am going to reblog.


Jul 29, 2009 02:00 PM #3
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