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Passive Solar Design

4.7 based on 3 ratings

Updated on Apr 14, 2011

2011 VIRTUAL SCIENCE FAIR ENTRY

Abstract

Purpose: My project was based upon the conservation of energy that can be harnessed by simply changing the structure of a house. Most houses seen today don't take advantage of the sun's energy, but changing the house a little can make a big difference.

Procedure: The sun's position in the sky is lower in the winter and higher in the summer, so to show that the passive solar house can save energy year round I ran two separate tests with ten trials each. During the winter tests the heat lamp was clamped at a lower position and during the summer tests it was at a higher elevation. After marking where the houses needed to be on the ground so that they were the same distance for each trial, I timed the experiment to be ten minutes for each house. Then after every ten minutes, I recorded the temperature and switched houses.

Conclusion: As I hypothesized, during the winter tests, the solar house heated much more quickly and therefore climbed to a much higher temperature every trial, while the ranch style house took much longer to heat and only rose a few degrees. During the summer tests both houses barely heated and both were at the same temperature. Overall, the passive solar house did harness more of the energy from the lamp.

Type

Physical Science

Grade

10th grade

Difficulty of the Project

Medium- Hard

Cost

$250-$300

Safety Issues

In my project, the only dangers could potentially come from the building of the houses or the light bulbs being a fire hazard but proper safety measures will be taken, such as placing the bulb in a controlled safe area, wearing safety goggles, gloves, and using tools carefully.

Time Taken to Complete the Project

Approximately 3 weeks

Objective
  • What is the project about?
  • What are the goals?
  • Approximately two sentences
Materials and Equipment
  • 2 sheets of 6.35mm layer plywood
  • 2 strips of thin plywood, 2.54cm / 3.81cm
  • 30 1.27cm screws
  • 1 sheet of clear plastic
  • 1 sheet of silver/plastic ceiling tile
  • 2 wireless Celsius thermometers, and two receivers
  • a light stand and clamp
  • 60 WATT halogen bulb

My project was based around the conservation of energy that can be harnessed by simply changing the structure of a house.Most houses seen today don't take advantage of the sun's energy, but by changing the house a little can make a big difference. Changing the layout and structure of a house can save enough energy to make a substantial difference in the energy use of the house put towards heating.

Passive solar designs are simple, but really they are very detailed, and must be very detailed so that every aspect of the house works together.Passive solar houses require a different approach to designing and building because every house is heated in part by the sun, but passive solar houses harness as much energy from the sun as possible.Many people believe that solar homes will affect their everyday life style, or that they won't be able to control the temperature of their home.Solar Houses are built on a few standard concepts, the longest side of the house, or wall with the largest surface area should face south, so that in the winter the sun heats inside the house through the windows on the large south facing wall.Second, the house must be well insulated or capturing the heat from the sun. The wall facing south should contain several windows while the other remaining wall should have fewer, or none. (The main importance in the surface area of wall to window)Finally, provide shade to help regulate temperature in the house, such as placing a couple deciduous trees on the south side of the house because in the summer the trees have leaves to stop the light from heating the house and in the winter the trees lose their leaves and the sun light can then heat the house. (The Solar House, 2005) Passive solar is a great idea, the designs are crucial to the building of the house, they save energy, and passive solar houses are as easy to build as regular homes today.

  • Passive solar, Passive solar design
  • House building materials
  • Roof overhang length equation

  • What is Passive Solar?
  • How much can it save?
  • What is gained/lost by using Passive Solar Design?
  • What are some basic designs?

  1. Assemble the passive solar house and the normal house, but keeping in mind to make them roughly the equal square centimeters.
  2. Install thermometers inside of each house, the thermometers that will be used are wireless, this will decrease the likely hood of the cool air outside the house to get in and the warm air inside to get out.
  3. Mark the ground one meter away from the base of the light stand to make sure both houses are the same distance from the light for each trial.
  4. Attach the halogen light to a stand at a 30 degree angle for the winter test, or a 70 degree angle for the summer test.
  5. Record the starting temperature of the house before the light is on. Have a timer set at 10 minutes and start it at the same time you turn the light on.
  6. After the ten minutes pass, record the ending temperature, and then repeat.

Summer Test
Trial

Summer Test

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Passive House

Starting Temperature

11
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12

Final Temperature

12
12
12
12
12
12
13
12
12
12

Ranch house

Starting Temperature

12
13
13
13
13
13
13
13
13
13

Final Temperature

13
13
13
13
13
13
13
13
14
13

The summer test is to show the amount by which each house increases when the sun is at a higher angle in the sky (at summer time). Both houses blocked heat very well and only rose one degree Celsius.
Winter Test
Trial
*Temperature=Celsius

Winter Test

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Passive House

Starting Temperature

12
13
12
13
14
13
14
13
14
14

Final Temperature

16
16
16
16
17
17
17
17
17
17

Ranch house

Starting Temperature

13
13
13
13
13
13
13
14
14
14

Final Temperature

14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14

The winter test shows that a passive solar house harnesses a lot more energy during winter when the sun is at a lower angle that the ranch style house, and increased by 4 degrees Celsius on average. While the ranch style house only rose one degree Celsius on average.

In the summer test, both houses blocked most of the light and heat from entering the house, proving that in the summer passive solar houses would block heat just as well or better than average houses.However, while in the winter test the normal house only increased by 0 to 1 degrees Celsius, the passive solar house heated up by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius.This test showed the potential energy saving abilities that the house would use in the real world, not including the other, internal techniques that can be put into the house.

The houses weren't exactly the same size and this may have had an effect on the results, but the effect would not be great enough to have changed the general point of the project.

  • Add to the house(insulation, floors, possibly rooms)
  • Go to passive solar houses that exist today and compare the energy consumption to that of a similar sized "cookie cutter" house

Book Sources

Chiras, D. (2007). The Home Owner's Guide to Renewable Energy. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers

Strong, S., Scheller, W. (1993). The Solar Electric House. Still River, Massachusetts: Sustainability Press

Kemp, W. (2005). The Renewable Energy Handbook. Ontario, Canada: Aztext Press

Chiras, D. (2002). The Solar House, Passive Heating and Cooling. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing CO.

Kachadorian, J. (2006). The Passive Solar House. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing CO.

Haun, L. (2002) How to Build a House. Newtown, Connecticut: The Taunton Press

Electronic Sources

The Rahus Institute (2005). Retrieved October 17, 2010. PASSIVE SOLAR. From California Solar Center Website: http://www.californiasolarcenter.org/history_passive.html

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