Unleash the Sun

I’ve covered active solar before; photovoltaic panels that convert the sun into electricity, with the help of solar inverters like those from SolarEdge. It is an easy option if you’ve got a good south facing roof, but what if you don’t have an unobstructed view of the south or your lot doesn’t allow you to get a lot of roof exposure that direction. Might I suggest using passive solar to help heat your house then. Passive solar can actually be helped by trees blocking the sun (as long as they’re deciduous and won’t block the sun in the winte) and if the roof can’t face south, pretty sure you have a good sized wall facing that way. Passive solar takes a bit more of a design focus earlier in the process as most of the features involve structural changes that are tough to do after the fact, but a sun room addition can easily take advantage of similar conditions if your existing house isn’t set up for it, just give a qualified professional a call and have them come look at what you can do.

One of the most obvious issues in doing passive solar is to have a lot of glass, but you do have to be careful about the kind, placement, and shading. You want the glass to let light in, including the heat, but not back out. A lot of window companies sell many different glass options, including the option of a frameless glass balustrade in Melbourne, and the defaults are generally really good at not letting solar heat into a house, so you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the glass that allows the sun in but not out as opposed to the standard that hampers it both ways. You’ll also want to spend the money on quality windows, ones that will last a long time and have a high insulating value. It may even be worth it to go triple pane (getting more and more available) if you want the solar heat gain to be the primary heater of your house or space as it will have to hold the heat in all night. Depending on your climate, you will want to shade the windows during the summer, there are options from external louvers to deep overhangs to planting deciduous trees. Consulting a professional is a must here to be sure you’re not paying through the nose in the summer to cool off the heat that you wanted to get in the winter. Heavy curtains and drapes can help with heat loss at night as well and can be opened and closed depending on the weather.

Another key concern is thermal mass, solar heat is very concentrated around the solar noon. You need a lot of storage capacity to even it out, and that is tough to acheive with wood. Masonry (either floors or walls) is an excellent way to store the heat and slowly release it. There are more complex systems that include transfering the heat from a solar space into the house using piping or ducting inside of your solar thermal mass if you were interested in this option. There are other options for thermal mass as well, a large tank of water (could be a decorative option or a fish tank) can store a lot of heat and I’ve seen spaces that used the thermal effect to warm the ductwork to cut down on the use of the heater.

Keep in mind, no matter how well designed the house is, the sun is a spotty heater, especially in certain climates. If you’re climate is overcast and chilly, it’s difficult to harness the sun for all your needs, so you will need to install a conventional heating system as well. For this, contact a company who provides Heating Services Durham way. You may be able to cut down on the size of the unit or at least save money by rarely running it, but you can’t keep a home warm with solar alone for those weeks where you just don’t see the sun or it snows 3 days in a row. It can be hard for people to stay warm during those times where the weather can have an impact on the temperature of your home. As a safe option, you may want to contact an AC Repair company in your area who will be able to make sure that your heating and cooling system is working, just in case you feel the effects of the weather outside. It’s definitely something worth considering if you know that your solar energy may not be as effective as it usually is. In truth, a passive solar design takes a lot of thought early in the design process to tweek and balance cost, effeciency, and comfort and if you’re interested in this option, call a professional as early as possible to get the most bang for your buck.