Is Passive or Active Solar Installing For You? Tips to Help You Decide

  • Reading time:6 mins read
  • Post comments:0 Comments

Passive solar homes have a lot of advantages over traditional ones. They use less energy and they’re more comfortable, so they save money on utility bills and heating and cooling costs. Many people are concerned about global warming, so passive solar homes are better for the environment.

The main disadvantage is that passive solar homes may require a little more work to install. And that’s where an experienced contractor comes in handy. A contractor will be able to identify potential problems, recommend quality materials and design, budget your project, coordinate with suppliers and installers, oversee installation of the windows and doors when they arrive, and assist with warranty issues after the job’s completed.

A passive solar installation is one that’s designed to heat a building in the winter and cool it in the summer. An active solar installation is one that’s designed to produce more energy than it consumes, whether by generating electricity or by collecting energy from the sun.

The main difference between passive and active systems is that a passive system doesn’t keep changing direction to follow the sun. Passive systems are usually just as good for heating in the winter, when the sun is low in the sky, as they are for cooling in the summer, when the sun is high in the sky. However, because solar panels tend to be large-scale installations, we often think of them as passively heated.

The most important benefit of passive systems is that they’re less expensive than active systems. Passive systems require less energy to run them than active ones do, so you can get more energy out of a given investment. This means a passive system costs less up front and will last longer.[1]

As a general rule, passive solar is cheaper and more effective. But if you’re going to install a passive system, you’ll need to make some decisions. Which of your windows are the sunniest? Where will the solar panels go? How much space do you have?

If you’re willing to get hands-on, there’s no substitute for looking at models in local homes for inspiration. But if you’re like me and don’t want to spend all your time at home looking at models, there are a few things you can do that will help you make an educated decision.

Click here for an example of how to calculate an installation cost—and see how my calculations depart from the industry standard.

Active solar is what it sounds like: a system that turns sunlight into energy. The systems are produced in different ways and come with various price tags, and they cost more than passive solar if you’re not careful (a very smart way to make a lot of money is to sell solar panels that don’t work).

Passive solar is much less sexy, but it’s the one I’m going to talk about. It’s passive because it doesn’t require any active, central heating or air conditioning or anything like that; it just uses the same passive means as all houses have: the sun.

The most obvious advantage of passive solar is insulation. You can save lots of money on your heating bills by putting up insulation. But there’s more to it than that. A house with passive solar gains something valuable even without doing anything about heat loss, which is often its biggest problem and the thing that makes roofing a poor investment for most people. It gains things like extra space and light and privacy. Those extra things make the house worth more than one with cheaper insulation and no other benefits.*

The choice of whether to use passive solar or active solar heating can be more complicated than you think. Passive solar heating is designed to take advantage of the sun’s energy by allowing it to heat up a structure and then letting the heat radiate out. Active solar heating, on the other hand is designed to capture the sun’s energy before it gets to your structure, then store that energy until later when you need it.

Passive solar heating works best in relatively warm climates where temperatures tend to vary less than other climates. In these places it makes sense to do away with an active system and rely on passive solar techniques entirely.

Active Solar Heating is more efficient in areas where temperatures are fairly stable, but especially effective for places where temperature differences between night and day are high. It also makes sense for places where there is no nearby source of natural light, such as those in deserts or caves. It is not so efficient in places where there are many days of freezing cold weather, but that’s not much of a problem in Alaska!

There are two ways to make a house comfortable: by heating or by cooling. Passive solar Heating and cooling systems are the best way to do both simultaneously.

Passive solar is the way of heating and cooling at the same time. In passive solar, you use the sun’s energy all day long, storing its heat in the house by storing it in dark, insulated boxes that can be used to heat up or cool down your home.

Active solar is the opposite of passive solar. Active solar involves running a hot air furnace or a sun-heated air conditioner all day long, but not using its power to store heat in the house. It only uses its power to make heat from sunlight.

Solar energy is one of those things that we all know about, but few of us know enough about. So we’ll go through the basics and try to make the whole thing clear.

First, let’s talk about passive solar design. This is when you take advantage of the fact that a house is naturally oriented in order to get hot water and sunlight into a room. In most houses, the windows face south or east. That means the sun is coming in at an angle for most of the day when it doesn’t flood the room with light. And as it gets later in the year, it gets even more so.

In other words, if you put mirrors or white reflective paint on a window, so that all the light comes in at an angle, it will reflect and bounce back into the room without going out again (see Figure 2).

Leave a Reply