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Sunlight Comparison on a Passive Solar Home: Summer vs. Spring

As always, we really enjoy visiting the Hawk Ridge owners in their new sustainable, “Sun Smart” (combined passive solar & radiant hydronic floor heating) home. We visited on a hot and intensely sunny June 27th (6 days from Summer Solstice) and there was no direct sunlight entering the home through the south facing windows and therefore no unwanted passive solar heat gain. The interiors were well-lit, yet were staying at a comfortable temperature with no fans or air conditioning running. A few windows were strategically opened for passive ventilation/cooling. As you scroll through the photos, you’ll see the sunlight difference between early summer and early spring.

This is the passive solar collection area in the master bedroom suite on June 27th near high noon. The interior is well lit, yet there is no direct sunlight entering and therefore no passive solar heat gain.

The master bedroom hallway area is welcoming passive solar heat gain (direct sunlight) on a cold & sunny April 3rd. Note that April 3rd is 89 days from Winter Solstice, when this “Sun Smart” homes sees the deepest solar penetration.

This is the main passive solar collection area in the living room and looking toward the reading room. There is no direct sunlight entering on this very sunny, 80+F degree June 27th day.

Passive solar hear gain & direct sunlight entering through the south-facing windows in the living room and reading room beyond. Photo taken on a cold & sunny April 3rd.

The garage is also designed for passive solar heat gain during the colder months, but is seeing no direct sunlight on June 27th.

This photo was taken in early November and demonstrates the passive solar heat gain action in the garage. A garage doesn’t have to be dark, cold, and gloomy! 

Here we can see the roof overhangs on the south side of the house doing their important job: blocking unwanted heat gain on this hot & sunny June 27th day. Notice that the entire south-facing facade is in shadow. Through design, modeling, and evaluation, we carefully determine during the initial design phases how roof overhangs control heat gain. Please check these fun and informative images & videos that we created for the Hawk Ridge Home that explore roof overhangs and solar penetration throughout the year.

This “Sun Smart” home benefits from the Sun’s energy year-round. The solar panels were cranking out electricity on June 27th. These panels are grid-tied, meaning that the electric company pro-rates their electric bill for making more energy than used on the plentiful sunny days. We’ll be eager to see the electric usage after a year, but at this point, this sustainable home is looking to be almost completely run by solar energy (both passive and active) and therefore almost net zero!

 

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