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Newsletter #234

Sun Solar Solarium

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

James Todd
March, 2005

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  1. Location – Location: Maximize the Exposure to the Sun
  2. Solar Power and Solar Heating
  3. Sun Rooms or Solariums
  4. Thought for the Day
  5. Subscription Information

This month’s newsletter is focused around the sun, from locating your home to take advantage of the sun, to Solar Power, to Sun Rooms and Solariums. Hope you enjoy it.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone whom you think may be interested!

1. Location – Location: Maximize the Exposure to the Sun

If you are planning on building a home or purchasing a new pre-built home, one of the considerations that you may want to give some thought to among the many design issues, is the location and orientation of your home relative to maximizing and controlling the solar heating from the sun.

When readers are selecting their home designs, there are many issues to think about, however this short article will focus only on maximizing your homes orientation relative to the sun.

House design varies a great deal. In some homes the kitchen and family room will be at the front of the house, while in others they are at the back of the home positioned to view the backyard and enabling parents to keep an eye on the kids. The first step in deciding how you want to take advantage of the solar heating properties of the sun is to merge your interior house design with the orientation of your home. For example a home facing south, with the backyard and kitchen etc facing north will minimize the sun effects in the wintertime in the back yard and also in the kitchen areas. On the other hand these areas will also be cooler in the summer time since they will avoid direct sunlight in the warmest part of the summer.

Consumers planning in-ground or above-ground pools will maximize the warming effects of the sun by having a southerly facing backyard that soaks up the warming effects of the hot summer sun and also if the kitchen and family rooms are also facing south they will have lots of light and warming solar rays in the wintertime as well.

As a general rule, if you are in a hot humid climate or hot dry climates with little or no winter heating requirements, you may want to orient your home to exclude the sun almost year round and arrange for the cooling breezes to cool your home naturally. In cooler climates, readers may want to take advantage of the solar heating capabilities of the sun as much as possible to minimize heating bills and also maximize exposure to the suns solar rays.

Another article in this newsletter discusses sun rooms and their design. If you are contemplating a sun room now or in the future, orientation of your home and exposure to the sun is very important. If your current planned location to build you home does not offer you the opportunity to maximize the sun’s value, you may want to reconsider where you build.

Our own home was chosen specifically following these guidelines that we have discussed. Our home faces north, our backyard faces south, our family room and kitchen is at the rear of the home and are bright and cheery all year round even in the short cold winter days. Our pool is heated by the warm hot sun in the summer with solar heating that is inexpensive and friendly to the environment.

We have included a number of web sites that discuss these subjects and others about orienting your home. One site is from Australia which has a similar climate to North America and the other discusses the details and theory of orientation as well as other subjects related to solar heating

Some Useful Links

Home Orientation

Solar Heat Gain - Orientation

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2. Solar Power and Solar Heating

Passive solar heating has been used by humans for thousands of years and recent developments in construction techniques and technology has made both passive solar heating more effective as well as efficient. Solar power is just beginning to become economical for residential consumers, however there are still technical and economical issues to overcome. Solar power is still not cost efficient when other cheap sources of power are available.

We have included an excellent web site covering the basics of solar power and what you need to know if you plan to incorporate solar power into your design. There are both practical issues as well as design issues covered on this particular web site. Consumers who are considering solar power either as a primary source of power or a backup to existing power sources can review this site and also be linked to state incentive programs as well to assist with the cost of solar power systems.

The basics of solar power involve ensuring that you have a southerly orientation of your solar panels if you are in the northern hemisphere, a charge controller to manage the charging of your batteries to avoid overcharging, batteries that can hold the generated solar power and that can withstand the many charge/discharge cycles involved with solar power. Finally you may also need an inverter if you decide you want to run devices that require alternating current. Each component must be selected to integrate with each other to manage the voltage and current requirements of your household needs. While solar power is still expensive, it can be an excellent alternative to more traditional power sources if you are in a remote area. Solar power is also friendly to the environment and as far as we know does not generate any health concerns.

Passive solar heating involves taking advantage of the natural orientation of your home and the natural sunlight to heat your home. The south side of a building, even in wintertime will be heated during the day and distribute heat in the evening. These same walls and rooms can be protected in the summer by overhangs to shade windows and glass doors. Solariums and sun rooms discussed in the next article also depend heavily on passive solar heating, especially in the winter time for natural heating and sunlight.

Consumers should consider the orientation of their homes to maximize solar heating in the winter as well as cooling in the summer. Pools can be heated using solar heating panels and solar blankets. Walls can absorb heat during the day and warm rooms at night as the heat dissipates.

There are many ways that enterprising consumers can take advantage of passive solar heating and it starts with the selection of your building location, the interior design of your home, and the design of walls and windows to take advantage of solar heating. We have included a number of informative web sites that may be of interest to about both solar heating and solar power.

Some useful links to check out

Passive Solar heating

The Basics of Solar Power for Producing Electricity

3. Sun Rooms or Solariums

Sun room or a solarium? Which will it be? Well it turns out that you can have both. The official definition for a solarium is “a room enclosed largely with glass and affording exposure to the sun “. In Webster’s dictionary sun parlor, sun parlour, sun porch and sunroom all have the same definition. So now that we know that all of these terms mean the same thing, why would you want to build one and how would you go about designing a sun room?

Americans are adding sun rooms to their homes at a phenomenal rate. The advantages of a sun room are numerous and each will take on a different priority for each person. Sun Rooms add an extra room on to your house in many cases, they provide that light airy feeling to perhaps an otherwise dark home. It is also a place for were your plants can grow. For those people that suffer from being deprived of sunlight during the winter it can be a healthy place to soak up the suns rays without having to endure the cold outside. In the summer with the windows open and protected by screens, you have the enjoyment of being virtually outside yet protected from the bugs and mosquitoes. Sun rooms can be an economical way of adding a room to your house, providing year round enjoyment and best of all, enjoying the natural sunlight year round.

There are many designs for sun rooms, ranging from studio designs which match your existing roof line, to California designs which have a covered roof for protection from direct overhead sunshine to sun rooms that are windows all around including the roof portion. Your selection of sun room design will depend on many different factors and we will try to cover a few of these here in this article, however readers are urged to discuss design details with a local expert in your area that will fit your home and lifestyle requirements.

Location and Orientation: depending on the location were you live, readers may want to vary their orientation of their sun rooms to either maximize the afternoon winter sun or avoid the hot afternoon sun in the summer. We suggest that you give careful consideration to your selection and needs to avoid being overheated or being too cold. Sun rooms facing north east will receive little sun on the winter time, while sun rooms facing southwest will receive maximum exposure in the summer and winter.

Use of your Sun Room: Readers planning their sun rooms as an extension of their home will take a different approach to their design vs. readers who plan to use their sun rooms primarily for their plants. These are two very different design requirements and we purposely choose these examples to illustrate that the readers needs, can be very different. Many readers may select a combination of both to maximize their value and enjoyment of their sun rooms.

Sunlight: if you are among many people who suffer from being deprived of sunlight in the wintertime, a sunroom may be just the answer you need. Many people do not get enough sunlight in the wintertime and they avoid being outside due to the cold weather. Southerly facing sun rooms with lots windows and heated to room temperature during the winter time, will provide you with that sun you need and allow you to enjoy a healthier winter than you might have otherwise.

We have only covered a few aspects of sunrooms or solariums as they are also called. As usual we have provided several web sites that you can browse for additional information.

Useful Web Links

About Sunrooms

Introducing the Sun Porch

Sun Room Design

4. Thought For The Day - Freedom

Good humour is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society.
--William Thackeray

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