Thoughts on Solar Energy Design and Construction

Mike Frerking shares his thoughts on solar energy design and construction for homes.

| July/August 1975

  • Solar energy home design and construction
    The installation of a solar-heating system still demands for most people a significant investment in time and material.

  • Solar energy home design and construction

As an outgrowth of our work on the Grieve solar heated home, a few of us here in Prescott, Arizona have formed a company called Arizona Sun works. One of our main objectives is to demonstrate that solar heating is possible now, and can be achieved without an accompanying 30-year mortgage. Members of Arizona Sunworks are presently building a house that will utilize the Thomason water/rock solar-heating system and a solar heated adobe shop. The shop will be the base from which we'll construct our own solar-heated adobe homes.

Solar Energy Design and Construction

Our ground rules for design and construction are:

  • Build small.
  • Do your own work.
  • Allow available local materials to determine the type of construction and heating system you use.
  • Build in stages. Building small-in phases-allows us to experiment, live with, and perfect alternative systems and skills while minimizing our capital requirements.

The installation of a solar-heating system still demands for most people a significant investment in time and material. It's important, then, for anyone planning such an installation to evaluate his or her particular situation so that he or she may choose the right system for the application at hand.

Before starting construction of a solar heater, a person should be familiar with every design that's available, should understand the climatic conditions of the area in which he or she lives, and should know the heat load requirements of the building being fitted.

When an existing structure is retrofitted, it must first be evaluated for thermal efficiency and, if necessary, reinsulated. (Anyone who attempts to use "free" solar energy to warm a house that's a thermal sieve will be very disappointed.) Walls and roof should have a total thermal resistance of not less than 15 (one-fifteenth of a Btu passing through one square foot of wall every hour for every one degree Fahrenheit temperature difference between inside and outside). The building should be as tight as possible to minimize air changes. Perimeter foundations should be insulated, and windows double glazed or covered with heavy fiberglass drapes or movable insulated shutters.

If you're building a house from the ground up, don't make the mistake of considering solar systems as an afterthought To be most effective, solar-heating and cooling systems must be so thoroughly integrated into a structure that its designer is required to develop a new awareness of the natural forces that determine the building's form.

7/1/2014 4:10:58 PM

Great article. Thanks for posting this up.

6/25/2014 3:53:49 AM

If you want to make money in small caps or penny stocks, then you should consider these helpful penny stock tips. - Buy the company hype. Look out for a company that is getting a lot of press. This will create an increased interest in the market and translates into an increased number of buyers.

8/25/2008 11:11:16 AM

continued- 1. Will my roof system be damaged and leak water into my house? 2. What happens when something damages your “Solar Electrical” system and it quits? 3. When the sun doesn’t shine on your “Panel’s”, will it heat your house or operate some electrical item? 4. Does it operate at night and produce power OR HEAT? 5. Will the voltage be stable and meet “ALL STATE” elec. Rules & Regulation’s? I know these problems “will never occur” and your system will operate for the next “Ten years and you will recover your investment of an indeterminate amount” (BUT did you save any money?} Now your “Panel System” might have to be replaced, “as it is possible” that it could fail to function, COULD be damaged with “SOME” object simply hitting the glass panels or some other problem? Who buy’s “Used” solar panel systems? Now the operational costs of your “Passive Solar System” has required no repairs, or changes and it simply “HELP’S” to heat your home? Look at the 25-year track record of our (4) Passive Solar heating projects and the 20-year operations of our “dual unit” creating “Passive Solar Cooling & Heating “ with NO Maintenance Required in any of these systems. UPDATE-Supplies from LOWES-Dated 08/19/08 to “Purchase” enough supplies to install a stand alone “Passive Solar Heating Unit” to pull heated attic air into your residence Living space! (Decide which rooms you want to add your solar heat into!) You can install more then one duct and motor from the same attic space. You will also need to cover, from the inside, the current attic vent used to “ALLOW” the attic heat to simply leave the attic space. Using an “active” venting system your are “Usually” allowed to cover those “HOT ATTIC EXHAUST OPENING’S” USE THIS SET-UP WHEN YOU HAVE A BASEBOARD ELECTRICAL HEATING SYSTEM! Quantity ITEM SKU PRICE 1 8” Duct Fan Motor #185010 29.93 1 8” Black Ducting (flex) #36441 38.69 (You will ha

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