Tips on How to Build A Passive Solar Log Home

Not everybody knows what a passive solar home is, and as a result not everybody is able to use this concept for their benefit. If you are also clueless about passive solar log homes and don’t know how to build this type of log cabin, worry not, here we will be discussing everything about a passive solar home in order that everyone can benefit from them.

What is A Passive Solar Log House?

A passive solar home is designed to take the utmost advantage of the sun for winter heating, while at the same time providing enough shading for summer cooling. Passive solar homes are designed to increase southern exposure. The house is generally located in a way that the main living areas of the house are located on the south side of the house. Solar access can be maximised by orienting the house in a way that its long axis runs from east to west. Most of the windows of a solar log home are located on the south side so in winters when the sun is low in the southern sky, the house can receive the maximum amount of heat.

Additionally, in the summer when the sun follows a longer and higher path, extensions located on south-facing walls and windows shade these areas from direct sunlight, helping to reduce overheating. Extensions located on the east and west do not provide proper shade because the sun is much lower during the mornings.

Atmospheric Considerations:

Passive solar log homes must be customised to specific climates to function effectively. According to the various locations the size of the passive system to the size of the house and the ratio of glass to thermal storage mass will change. The type of system used can differ too, especially in areas where overheating is a problem.

What to Expect from A Passive Solar Log Home?

Passive solar systems can add up to 30%-70% of home heating and cooling needs, depending upon the design.

Advantages of Passive Solar Log Cabin:

Good passive solar log cabins are not costly to build or difficult to design but they do need the use of basic, practical ways of working with the environment. If you own a solar log home you can have these benefits:

Comfortable: The homes are cool in summer and warm in winter.

Reasonable: Great investment return is ensured or they get a positive cash flow.

Durable: The homes are built using low maintenance and long-lasting materials.

Beautiful: The houses are well connected to the outdoors and are full of light.

Environmentally responsible: The houses make efficient use of non-renewable natural energy resources.

The concept of passive solar log homes is very simple. You must have noticed that on a sunny day a huge amount of heat builds up in your car. And even in winters there is a reasonable amount of heat build-up, this is called solar gain. So why not capture that heat in your log cabin in winters using passive solar design? You must have also noticed that, even on a hot summer day, shaded concrete remains cool, this is called thermal cooling storage.

Passive solar heating and passive cooling revolves around these simple concepts. Passive solar heating and geo-cooling makes the living environment of a log cabin more comfortable as well as helps you save on energy costs. The best part of installing passive system in a log house is that it is very budget friendly. Passive systems are environmentally sustainable and have no moving parts. Additionally, they provide tax credits and do not add to the cost of construction whilst reducing utility bills with great comfort. Yes, it is actually that simple.

However, there are some tricks that make it even more effective. Design and function are highly efficient when the room has a lot of glass windows and doors and faces directly south. As compared to lighter colours dark stained walls and flooring absorb more heat.  Around a sunroom planting deciduous trees can also prove really helpful. When the leaves fall in the winter, sunlight gets in the house. And in summer, the leaves provide shade and assist in the geo-cooling cycle.

Basic Elements of A Passive Solar Log Home:

If you are considering owning a log house or want to convert your log house into a passive solar log home, then here are few elements that will help you achieve this.

Correctly oriented windows: Usually, devices or windows that generally collect solar energy should face within 30 degrees of true south. Also, they should not be shaded at the time of the heating season by trees or other buildings especially from 9am-3pm each day. During autumn, spring and the cooling season you should shade the windows to prevent overheating.

Thermal mass: In moderate climates the thermal mass inherent in drywall and home furnishings of a properly insulated log home is sufficient and as a result, there is no need for additional thermal storage materials.

Distribution mechanisms: Solar heat is collected and then transferred to different areas of the house by the use of radiation, convection and conduction. In some homes, blowers and small fans assist in distributing heat. Conduction happens when there is movement of heat from one object to another connected objected, like when a sun-heated floor provides heat to your bare feet. Convection is heat transfer through a fluid like water or air and passive solar log homes generally use convection to move air from warmer areas. Radiation is the heat you receive when standing near a sunny window or wood stove.

Control techniques: Add awnings or overhangs to decrease the amount of light that comes in your log house during summers. Open shades on the outside of the west and east sides of the sunroom, this will assist shade the interior from the rising and setting sun.

So, go ahead and build a nice passive solar log home and slash your electricity bills as well as create a more cosy and pleasant living experience.

2 thoughts on “Tips on How to Build A Passive Solar Log Home”

  • I would love to have a passive solar home. I am interested in the Uzes insulated cabin which i hope to build/have built on a south facing site in Savoie in France at an altitude of around 1200mtrs. How could this be done? What would it cost? I know you have a French site but my French is not very accomplished as yet.

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