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Author Topic: Passive Solar Build  (Read 584 times)

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Offline Stephen1

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Passive Solar Build
« on: December 04, 2019, 12:36:45 PM »
I am planning on building in the spring. I have a great south by southwest building spot. Some big trees to the west and up on hill overlooking the lake. 
I want to incororate passive solar in the building.
Who has done it?
What did you do?
Thanks in advance 
Stephen
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Offline beav

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 03:22:45 PM »
Yes! Great idea!!
I built my house just before the turn of the century. It is a simple saltbox design with the tall side facing due south, the long roof side north. Every stick came off the mizer,  hemlock framing and pine sheathing.
The Windows on the south side allow the winter sun in, in the summer not much at all when the sun is high.
I also have off grid solar electric power and solar hot water.
I would recommend it for you!!
I have saved many dollars on heat. On a sunny day the stove can go out but it stays warm no matter how cold out

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 06:09:54 PM »
The (Living room) gable end of my house with 3 fairly large windows is facing south plus a glass doors to the east and another window to the west so we get lots of solar gain when there is sun. The other side of the coin is at night when it is cold out you can feel the cold dropping off the glass. I'm thinking there probably is a overall gain but never really sure.

I find it is nice to have some east glass to get some warming first thing in the morning too.

One thing I did in my house is make sure that the dinning room in not on the west, after being in several houses with the dinning room on the west and when you sit down for supper you either have to put heavy sun blocking blinds which also blocks the view or suffer in the heat and have the sun in your eyes.

I keep saying that if I built another house I would design it so I would be able to do any maintenance from a 6 foot step ladder. 


Offline Don P

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2019, 06:38:49 PM »
I did the first drawing of our house in HS architectural drafting class. I kept playing with it as we amassed our nest egg and looked for the place. During that time I modeled it and set the model out at various times of the year to check the overhangs and sun angles. We have nighttime cellular blinds but I don't think we've used them a dozen times in 30 years. I took a class one time "Solar Energy for Homes" and one thing that stuck with me was "Passive Solar requires active occupants" Since we don't do things like pulling the blinds and trapping all the sun, there are now Persian rugs on the dark tile southern floor (not by my choice but a guy knows when to say yes dear). I never hooked up solar water to that slab so I call it solar tempered rather than passive solar. Especially in winter I need all the sun I can get so am quite happy with it.

For glass I ordered the low E coating on south and east pulling in heat and reflecting it back in, on the west it is rejecting the heat, yup dining is west and I don't like it. The original huge deciduous maple I planned on shading the SSW glass in summer has died and been removed, a new one is up but smaller, it is really my hangout on the deck more than a strict need of the house but think about that if you use the landscape as part of the plan. As a kid Dad used a white oak for that purpose, we were farther south, when it died we cooked as it was a southern gable of glass that overhangs couldn't shade. That is why I put the eaves on N&S on ours, gables E&W. In your climate not sure, we are warmer. A cardinal N wall doesn't get sun sterilization, we are kicked west of south a little, maybe 10, the mountain blocks early E so that drove that decision. I've opened up the N this past year and that will probably help with that wall airflow wise but at the cost of more wind in winter.
A laborer works with his hands
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An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2019, 11:26:03 AM »
It seems like the dining room should go in the middle!
Now the solar. A ranch style, long on the east-west axis. My bedroom will be in the south-east corner as I really like waking up to morning Sunshine! 
Can I just do a wall of 6-8' patio doors? A nice porch along the front with a roof overhang that will block the summer sun and let in the other 3 seasons of sun. 
I have a log home builder trying to sell me a kit, telling me do not put to much into the passive solar. I think in the dead of winter passive solar will not be a plus, but it is the shoulder seasons where I will see the gains His worry is that logs are more expensive than a stick frame, and glass is more expensive than logs = a log buiding out of my budget.
I like Don P comment of doing a TF ceiling. It will be in the great room/kitchen. I am leaning towards a stick frame as I like the cost of a SF build.  2x6 are going under $5 each, I would have troubles sawing, planing, and grading to = that.
I can use my own lumber to make flooring, panelling, and fake log siding to match my log cabin. 
 Still thinking and using the FF as my sounding board!
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor

Offline Don P

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2019, 07:36:01 PM »
Our codes have minimum wall bracing requirements, that can be mind bending. I'm sure yours have something similar but you need to find and study those. FWIW here's ours, start at R 602.10
https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/VRC2015/chapter-6-wall-construction
Generally a minimum of a 2' wide braced panel at the ends or within 10' of the end of the wall the same or better along the wall according to its length but braced panels not more than 20' apart. APA has some good publications on compliance.

If you cannot develop sufficient bracing, usually its a wall of windows, then an engineer needs to design a moment resisting frame. Simpson has some narrow off the shelf solutions. After that it usually goes to rigid steel post and beam assemblies.

Bear with me for a rant against the machine ::). A friend was asked to bid a house and came to me for help, and he was going to need our Lull to pluck steel. The owner had drawn up a plan she liked and handed it to an architect to draw plans. Who then handed it off to an engineer for design of steel moment frames. I looked at the plans and said this is nuts, if she would just give up a window here and there in the walls of windows and replace those spaces with a bracing panel all the craziness would disappear. He bid the job and blew it out of their budget. He then suggested what I had said and it went back to the architect and has been redrawn and rebid. I've been through rounds of similar recently. They could have done a little bit of education at the front end and saved the client gobs of design fees.  That is why I'm saying research and know your stuff going in.
A laborer works with his hands
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2019, 09:01:38 AM »
DonP I see what you mean. As always a little knowledge ahead of time can save a lot later. 
I was reading through your code and realized ours is very similar. I may not have a wall of glass, but i can see having patio doors along the south and west walls. the dining room is in the center, so in the morning I will have the sun which I like.
I have been talking to new inovative builders in my area. One does straw homes. The straw is compressed into packs.
One is well suited to my area of uneven rock, she drills the rock and inserts steel posts and ten angle iron joins the posts, then the frame of the house is built at a truss factory, the trusses rest on the steel. the truss is 1 peice in that they are the floor -wall-and roof.   A complete envelope.
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor

Offline beav

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2019, 05:12:03 PM »
Stephen
In "The passive solar energy book" Edward Mazria recommends between 0.19 and 0.38 square  feet of south facing glass for each one square foot of floor area. Being your northern location you prolly wanna be on the upper level. Too much glazing on the south leads to overheating. West and East facing glazing also causes overheating, esp in the summer. We are close to the winter solstice now, observe how much sun would hit an East or west facing window now. Almost none.
If I was to do it again I would build two 2x4 walls staggered with carefully applied fiberglass insulation. No thermal bridging.

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2019, 07:11:27 PM »
Stephen
In "The passive solar energy book" Edward Mazria recommends between 0.19 and 0.38 square  feet of south facing glass for each one square foot of floor area. Being your northern location you prolly wanna be on the upper level. Too much glazing on the south leads to overheating. West and East facing glazing also causes overheating, esp in the summer. We are close to the winter solstice now, observe how much sun would hit an East or west facing window now. Almost none.
If I was to do it again I would build two 2x4 walls staggered with carefully applied fiberglass insulation. No thermal bridging.
Thats an interesting concept, your wall is 7" thick?
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor

Offline beav

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2019, 09:18:39 PM »
Actually my walls are a full 6". I cut all the wall studs on my mill. If I was to do it over again I would do it as above with the staggered studs. Hence no thermal bridging.

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2019, 09:36:11 PM »
I would be using lumber store lumber for the framing. to many rule around here to use my lumber off the mill for structure.
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor

Offline beav

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2019, 10:10:31 PM »
Ya i built mine in the good ole days before stinkin' code junk
You can however do the staggered stud wall with store bought junk

Offline Don P

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2019, 11:00:24 PM »
One is well suited to my area of uneven rock, she drills the rock and inserts steel posts and ten angle iron joins the posts, then the frame of the house is built at a truss factory, the trusses rest on the steel. the truss is 1 peice in that they are the floor -wall-and roof.   A complete envelope.
Interesting, that was experimented with when modern trusses and nail plates were coming on line. It never really took off mainly because of transport difficulty vs building components but there are savings if it can be hauled reasonably. I remember reading through the case studies and didn't think the juice was worth the squeeze after fireblocking etc was detailed in later but that part is up to their numbers.
A laborer works with his hands
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An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2019, 08:17:51 AM »
One is well suited to my area of uneven rock, she drills the rock and inserts steel posts and ten angle iron joins the posts, then the frame of the house is built at a truss factory, the trusses rest on the steel. the truss is 1 peice in that they are the floor -wall-and roof.   A complete envelope.
Interesting, that was experimented with when modern trusses and nail plates were coming on line. It never really took off mainly because of transport difficulty vs building components but there are savings if it can be hauled reasonably. I remember reading through the case studies and didn't think the juice was worth the squeeze after fireblocking etc was detailed in later but that part is up to their numbers.


One of the things that are they are able to do is build in the winter. They ae using laid off skilled trades, winter is a slow to non existant time to build here. No concrete is necessary, trusses are built inside,  so the winter becomes less expensive to build, also more tradespeople are available to build the lower cost buildings using this system. The trades people go back to the multi million $ builds once winter is gone. A better use of the limited trades people in this area.
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor

Offline alan gage

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2019, 11:04:08 AM »
I somewhat incorporated passive solar into the house I built. I wanted to get some benefit from the sun but also didn't want to get too carried away with it financially. It was a relatively small house (1000 sq ft) and would be very well insulated (10" double stud walls) and heated with wood so while the solar gain would be nice it wasn't going to save me a ton of money.

I knew I wanted a large bank of windows to the south anyway so all I did was design enough overhang to block the sun during the warmer months and specify what coating I wanted from the window manufacturer. There are a multitude of different coatings but here in the US the standard Low-E coating blocks solar gain. There is another coating, which I believe is more common in Canada, that permits solar energy but still has a good u-factor for holding heat in the house. That's what I wanted on those windows. I had a bit of a go around with the window manufacturer and they tried really hard to talk me out of it. I finally got a hold of the right person and they said no problem. I expected to pay extra but it was the same price. The living room windows, which faced south and east, were the only ones with the "odd" coating. The rest of the them in the house were all the standard Low-E offered around here.

Pretty much all the window coatings come from Cardinal. You can look on their website to see the different coatings that are offered. I believe the window manufacturer's order the glass, pre-coated, from Cardinal and then install it in their frames. So if the manufacturer gets their coatings from Cardinal they should be able to supply any of the coatings offered (even though it won't be in the manufacturer's catalog).

It worked out well. I can't quantify how much heat I gained through those south facing windows but there were many days during the shoulder season where I didn't have to run the wood stove during the day and even in the middle of winter the gain was noticeable. If I'd been paying to heat with natural gas or propane it probably wouldn't have been a very big savings but doing it the way I did didn't cost me any extra money either; only some extra time figuring out the overhangs and window coatings. It certainly was a nice place to sit and read with the sun shining it. I had a concrete floor to absorb and retain some of the heat.

You mentioned a large bank of patio doors and the one thing I'd be worried about with that would be air leakage, which could easily more than negate any solar gain.

I think my south facing bank of windows was about 9' wide by 5' tall. There was one large 5' wide solid pane window flanked by two narrower double hungs.

Alan
Timberking B-16, a few chainsaws from small to large, and a Bobcat 873 Skidloader.

Offline Klunker

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2019, 11:30:03 PM »
For me passive solar is a no go until you insulate and keep air infiltration down as much as possible.

Worry about these 2 first.

My house is insulated very well is relatively air tight and it has the most windows on the south side by design.
I do gain heat in the winter on a sunny day but I don't have any way of retaining the suns heat.

There are periods of cloudy days that may last for over a week easily in the winter.

I can get power from a PV system on those days but no passive solar benefit.





Offline Don P

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2019, 05:56:31 PM »
The 3 I's, in order;
Infiltration , if you don't take care of this one nothing else matters
Insulation, you gotta have a blanket to keep it in. A window is generally R2
Insolation, if you take care of the first 2 then think about this.

The coating I'm familiar with is lowE, in the south it is often referred to as "heat mirror", it is on the middle face of the inside pane and rejects IR. So well it can blister shingles, melt facing vinyl siding and burn people sitting by hotel pools. I've registered a 60F difference on blistered shingles compared to shingles right beside them but out of the windows reflection, the stuff works.
For solar gain the same coating is on the middle face of the exterior pane, IR and visible light pass in and any IR trying to escape is reflected back in. So it's just a matter of specifying which face the coating is on... and then keeping track of who goes where on the job.
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Offline alan gage

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2019, 09:18:49 AM »
Around here LowE 360 is the standard coating that is highly insulated and blocks solar gain. I specified LowE 180 for my south and east facing windows. It also has good insulating properties (u-factor) but permits solar to enter.

Alan
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Offline woodroe

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Re: Passive Solar Build
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2019, 07:08:54 AM »
Passive solar here since 1990. DIY design and build with diy solar hot water add on.
Modified salt box with cathedral ceiling in the SE corner and 2 roof windows .
Kitchen in the northwest and dining northeast. South wall mostly glass with good overhangs
1350 sq ft living area plus full basement. 
Heat with wood only, 4 cord yr ,exposed center chimney. 
Hard to beat passive solar. 
Good luck !


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