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Passive Solar Design

Passive Solar Design

From Wikipedia:

In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it doesn't involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.[1]

The key to designing a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate. Elements to be considered include window placement and glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading. Passive solar design techniques can be applied most easily to new buildings, but existing buildings can be adapted or "retrofitted".


DOE- Passive Solar Design For Your Home

Increase energy efficiency & comfort in homes by incorporating passive solar design features.

Design with the sun in mind.
Sunlight can provide ample heat, light, and
shade and induce summertime ventilation into
the well-designed home. Passive solar design
can reduce heating and cooling energy bills,
increase spatial vitality, and improve comfort.
Inherently flexible passive solar design principles
typically accrue energy benefits with low maintenance
risks over the life of the building.


DOE- Passive Solar Design For Your Home
How Thermal Mass Works

Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb heat energy. A lot of heat energy is required to change the temperature of high density materials like concrete, bricks and tiles. They are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass.

Appropriate use of thermal mass throughout your home can make a big difference to comfort and heating and cooling bills.

Correct use of thermal mass moderates internal temperatures by averaging day/night (diurnal) extremes. This increases comfort and reduces energy costs.

Poor use of thermal mass can exacerbate the worst extremes of the climate and can be a huge energy and comfort liability. It can radiate heat all night during a summer heatwave, or absorb all the heat you produce on a winter night. To be effective, thermal mass must be integrated with sound passive design techniques. This means having appropriate areas of glazing facing appropriate directions with appropriate levels of shading, insulation and thermal mass.


How Thermal Mass Works
New Mexico Solar Energy Assn- Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design uses sunshine to heat and light homes and other buildings without mechanical or electrical devices. It is usually part of the design of the building itself, using certain materials and placement of windows or skylights.


New Mexico Solar Energy Assn- Passive Solar Design
A Contrarian View of Passive Solar Design

I have designed over 60 passive solar homes over the last 35 years and have lived in seven of them. Based on that experience, I have come to a few conclusions which, although contrary to conventional passive wisdom, I have found to be valid. I must qualify these comments by saying that most of my experience has been in the Northeast, primarily in Maryland and Pennsylvania, in areas with 4,000 heating degree days and up. The following comments mostly apply to new construction in similar or colder climates.


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Passive Solar Energy

Passive Solar Energy Heating For Cold Climates, and
Passive Solar COOLING For Hot Humid Climates

The term “Passive Solar Energy” means that basic physical concepts (such as sunshine, warm air rising, and cool air falling) are used to HEAT and COOL a building, WITHOUT the need for fans, water pumps, or other “active” mechanical equipment. Using solar radiation to Passively Heat Air and Water is VERY EASY AND INEXPENSIVE TO DO.


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WBDG- Passive Solar Heating

Passive solar heating is just one strategy in a group of design approaches collectively called passive solar design. When combined properly, these strategies can contribute to the heating, cooling, and daylighting of nearly any building.

Passive solar heating in particular makes use of the building components to collect, store, and distribute solar heat gains to reduce the demand for space heating. It does not require the use of mechanical equipment because the heat flow is by natural means (radiation, convection, and conductance) and the thermal storage is in the structure itself. Also, passive solar heating strategies provide opportunities for daylighting and views to the outdoor through well-positioned windows.

It is best to incorporate passive solar heating into a building during the initial design. The whole building approach evaluates it in the context of building envelope design (particularly for windows), daylighting, and heating and cooling systems. Window design, especially glazing choices, is a critical factor for determining the effectiveness of passive solar heating. Passive solar systems do not have a high initial cost or long-term payback period, both of which are common with many active solar heating systems.



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