Building a Solar Home for Less

An inexpensive, efficient solar-heated and cooled home.

The Helio Thermics prototype solar house may look conventional. . . but looks can be deceiving!
The eight simplified drawings illustrate how the various heating and cooling cycles of the Helio Thermics system work. In modes 1 through 4, the vents in the eaves (and atop the attic) are closed to retain heat during cool weather. In modes 5 through 8 (warm weather), these same vents are opened... thereby allowing the attic to cool through convection. Mode 4 illustrates the most complex - and least often used - heating cycle, in which water is pre-heated by the collectors in the attic, then brought to even higher temperatures by a gas-fired heater, and finally passed through the heat-exchange coils in the "air handler".
This cutaway view of the Helio Thermics solar home illustrates the "storage to house" mode of heat transfer, in which the "air handler" draws warm air (red) from rock storage to - and through - the edge-laid cinder blocks... the lower level of the central duct... the blower within the air handler itself... the upper level of the central duct...and finally, ducts (directly beneath the floor) leading to the inside of the house. Cool air (blue) enters the return duct (at right) and travels to the far side of the rock storage area, where it absorbs stored BTU's prior to re-entering the cycle. Heavy insulation, and a virtually airtight house, are what make it possible.

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