Home House & Building Eco Friendly Design Key Passive Solar Design Concepts
Key Passive Solar Design Concepts
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Key Passive Solar Design Concepts
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There are four primary passive solar energy configurations: The four elements are direct solar gain, indirect solar gain, isolated solar gain and passive cooling.

Direct solar gain

Direct gain attempts to control the amount of direct solar radiation reaching the living space.

The cost effectiveness of these configurations are currently being investigated in great detail and are demonstrating promising results.

Indirect solar gain

Indirect gain attempts to control solar radiation reaching an area adjacent but not part of the living space. Heat enters the building through windows and is captured and stored in thermal mass (e.g water tank, masonry wall) and slowly transmitted indirectly to the building through conduction and convection. Efficiency can suffer from slow response (thermal lag) and heat losses at night. Other issues include the cost of insulated glazing and developing effective systems to redistribute heat throughout the living area.


  • Trombe walls
  • Water walls
  • Roof ponds

Isolated solar gain

Isolated gain involves utilizing solar energy to passively move heat from or to the living space using a fluid, such as water or air by natural convection or forced convection. Heat gain can occur through a sunspace, solarium or solar closet. These areas may also be employed usefully as a greenhouse or drying cabinet. An equator-side sun room may have its exterior windows higher than the windows between the sun room and the interior living space, to allow the low winter sun to penetrate to the cold side of adjacent rooms. Glass placement and overhangs prevent solar gain during the summer. Earth cooling tubes or other passive cooling techniques can keep a solarium cool in the summer.

Measures should be taken to reduce heat loss at night e.g. window coverings or movable window insulation


  • Thermosiphon
  • Barra system
  • Double envelope house
  • Thermal buffer zone
  • Solar space heating system
  • Solar chimney