What is passive solar design?

What is passive solar design?

Considering building or renovating? Passive solar design is a concept that is well worth considering. ‘Passive design’ works with the local climate to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home and reduces or eliminates the need for additional heating or cooling depending on your location, delivering a lifetime of thermal comfort, low energy bills, and low greenhouse gas emissions. Features such as orientation, thermal mass, insulation and glazing work together to take advantage of natural sources of heating and cooling, such as sun and breezes, and to minimise unwanted heat gain and loss. The following 5 elements of passive solar design are taken into consideration and well worth discussing with your architect, builder and interior designer:

// APERTURE. A large glass area (window) placed in such a way that it collects light and solar heat energy in the colder months, but is shaded during the hot summer months.

// ABSORBER. A hard surface designed to absorb heat during the day and release the heat slowly into a thermal mass to keep the house warm at night. Brick and masonry walls make ideal absorbers. In a warmer climate, the absorber should not face the sun.

// THERMAL MASS. Designed to store the heat, the thermal mass is the material beneath the absorber.

// DISTRIBUTION. The distribution of hot or cool air is an important part of passive solar design. Distribution works via three modes of heat transfer: convection, conduction and radiation.

// CONTROL. The elements that passively control temperature distribution to suit each season. For example, wide eaves shading the aperture or absorber to block the sun during the summer months, but allow sunlight to hit the absorber and enter through the aperture during the winter months when the sun is lower on the horizon. Other controls can include positioning and design of windows, such as louvre windows, to capture breezes and circulate cool air.



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