Passive Solar Heating
Today, we’re going to tell you all about the benefits of using a passive solar heating system in your current home, or a new home currently being designed to help you achieve some amazing long term cost savings and reduce the carbon footprint of your house.
This kind of heating system is actually based on an ancient technology that has been around for millennia. As with many things, it turns out that the old ways are sometimes the best because they provide us with a tried and tested means of achieving a solid end result. In this case, the result we’re looking for is effective heating that can be achieved passively via the sun, without relying on any kind of grid power in the process. Read on for everything you need to know.
What Is Passive Solar Heating and How Does It Work?
When we’re talking about passive heating, it might sound like we’re talking about something that doesn’t work as directly as a traditional grid-powered heating system or offer the same level of efficiency. You’ll probably be surprised to know that this absolutely isn’t the case; however, despite the seemingly confusing name and description. What is true; however, is that the means by which heating or cooling is harnessed and achieved is entirely passive in that it isn’t sourced directly.
Passive solar energy is harnessed by a series of cleverly placed components that all work harmoniously together to deliver an optimum level of heating or cooling, achieving an effective natural interior temperature in a home or workplace that can be relied upon
We’ll shortly go further into the details surrounding these components and what’s actually required to establish a successful system like this, but all of it ultimately boils down to sun access. Provided your building has maximum access to the sun then you’re in a position to be able to incorporate passive heating.
Photon rays are emitted from the sun, carrying with them the heat & energy required to be able to either heat our homes directly or be fed into solar cells to redistribute as energy. In this case, it’s only the former function we’re concerned with. When the rays hit the individual components of our passive solar energy system, they’re then immediately forced through a chain of events that ultimately lead to us achieving interior heat without needing to rely on grid power.
What makes this such an attractive prospect is the fact that once in place you may not need to use any grid power whatsoever to heat your home. This leads to immense long-term cost savings and an incredibly low carbon footprint.
As a result, more and more people are either completely converting to a passive solar design to meet their heating needs or they’re installing them into existing homes so that they have to draw on grid power & utilities less often. Either way, the positives achieved are numerous and impactful.
Passive Solar Design
Though it may seem difficult to believe at first, the tried and tested nature of passive sun-powered heating proves that it’s every bit as effective as drawing from the grid to regulate the temperature within your home. The key, of course, is getting the initial set up and underlying system correct during the installation process to ensure that efficiency is as good as it can be at all times. An optimum passive heating system relies on impeccable placement.
The first thing to consider is the location of the building you wish to passively heat. It’s crucial that the building allows for a south-facing position so that it’s able to soak up the sun’s rays for internal redistribution. The next aspect of getting passive solar heating right is the solar ray “gate”. This is simply an alternative phrase for a window. Once you’re satisfied that your building is as south-facing as can be, you then need to ensure that you have a line of windows that are south facing too.
Ideal window placement ensures that you’re able to gain maximum photon ray access at all times so that they can reach the interior of your property successfully and get “fed” into the next stage of the passive heating system. With an ideal property location and optimally placed windows you then need to ensure that the building has a suitable means of absorbing the incoming heat, which typically takes the form of concrete or another suitable flooring.
Provided the rays can access the absorbent material the stored heat can then be redistributed throughout the interior of the building. This in turn can either be done passively or via the assistance of integrated elements to assist with the circulation of the passive solar rays.
These assistive elements include vents and wind-powered fans that gently support the airflow throughout the building. Without these elements in place, it’s still possible to achieve even temperature distribution merely by using windows and absorbent materials alone. The walls of the building also play an enormous part in passive solar heating because, depending on the type of insulation you have, you’ll be able to store and distribute more heat in an optimum scenario.
Passive Solar Heating vs Passive Solar Cooling
Though it may sound like a strange concept at first passive cooling via the use of solar is absolutely a viable means of regulating the temperature of your interior space in the opposite fashion to passive solar heating. Passive cooling works in such a way that you block solar ray access. This provides the opposite effect to heating through the use of shading. After all, cooling is the absence of heat! Therefore, blocking its access means that you can bring the overall temperature of your interior space down.
Cleverly designed properties actually feature both passive heating and cooling elements by including the right components needed to absorb photon rays in conjunction with the components needed to block their access to the interior space.
This, when combined with assistive elements like fans and vents, means that you can either heat or cool your home without the need to rely on the grid whatsoever unless it’s in a purely assistive, secondary capacity. Examples of passive cooling components include shutters, vents, and even greenery planted in such a way that it blocks maximum sun access from certain angles.
We hope that after reading through to the end of our post today you now feel enlightened about the subject of passive solar heating and you’re confident about how you’ll be able to integrate it into the framework of your property to make enormous long-term savings.
Though it might seem like a tricky heating solution initially, it’s much easier to work passive heating like this into your home or workplace than you might think. Provided you give sufficient thought to the location of your building and how you can best place windows, flooring, insulation, and vents to work the sun’s photon rays to your advantage. You’ve got a cheaper, greener future ahead.