Solar Home Basics

SITE LOCATION for Northern Hemisphere:

1. You will need sunlight to collect solar energy.Heat collection area should face South. If the heat collection area has an orientation of more than 90 degrees off due South a solar investment may not be worth the construction expense.

2. If possible place house on the south slope of a hill... not too high on the hill and not too low. Trees or anything else on the North side may be used to block a North wind.

3. Minimum unobstructed sunlight between 9AM and 5PM is important. Even deciduous trees cast obtrusive shadows in winter.

4. Well drained soil around the foundation will reduce heat loss.


FOUNDATION: I prefer a full basement with solid insulation on the exterior wall. For a full basement an insulated slab is not important since the frost line is above 4' in most US mainland areas. If you must build your house on a slab I recommend that the underlying soil have at least 4" of well tamped level sand or gravel. I also recommend that the cement block and footing be insulated along the perimeter. The solid insulation may later be protected with wire mesh plastered with cement.

Also the footing pour should be separate from the slab pour. An allowance should be made for settling. There will be a lot of weight resting on the footing slab. Also notice there is no insulation under the footing. it's better to place well drained gravel under the footing. because foam insulation would be crushed under the weight of the housre.

Some people may disagree with this method BUT remember the foundation and footings are perhaps the most important part of your house. Don't skimp on these areas. These are difficult areas to repair after a house is built.

A well insulated house on a solid foundation is an important consideration BUT lets not forget about the advantages of photo voltaics.