Passive solar and pv

For decades, home architects have been applying the principles of passive solar design. This means that homes are built to be warmed and lit by the sun to the maximum degree in winter, while shading living spaces from hot, bright sun during the height of summer. There are energy-saving benefits for the occupants (using less grid electricity, gas, or solar or battery energy) to be comfortable in the home.

The concept of passive solar relies on the tenets of energy efficiency, robust insulation and thermal mass. It also goes further to take as much of the sun’s power as possible when it has a good impact inside, and to limit the effect of sun on the interior home temperature when it’s time to try to cool the home. Some passive solar homes go the route of solar hot water or radiant solar floor heating systems, a natural extension from collecting the sun’s energy through skylights, windows and direct warming of the roof and walls. Solar electric is another possibility.

Any energy efficient home can be a great candidate for solar, and a passive solar home all the more so. The southern exposure may have large windows to let the sun shine through in winter, and available roof space on that side of the home should be ideal for locating solar pv modules. Check out the DOE’s passive solar resources for more information on how it works.

Because HVAC needs are light in such a home, a relatively small number of solar panels would likely be recommended to supply power for appliances and devices. In a sense, the proliferation of electronics and modern conveniences means that to truly realize a solar lifestyle, a passive solar home is a good start but adding a solar pv system truly makes a solar home.

Does your home use elements of passive solar, and are you looking to incorporate solar panels in a way that gives you the most benefits consistent with how your home operates? Call us!

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