What ever happened to passive solar?

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dmiller
dmiller Solar Expert Posts: 68 ✭✭✭✭
I'm being facetious, but people storm in here all exited about being green and aren't at all interested in looking at the total home design and energy needs. When PV prices were higher it seemed more people were looking at the whole design. Now it seems the trend is to throw up a bunch of PV and bask in its environmental glow.
On another forum there's a current discussion about a couple who are building up a 33 ton 8x8 former Army truck to travel and apparently lecture people on environmental responsibility. They are putting PV on the roof of course.
Is this the norm in the facebook age? Put the green spin on a 33 ton diesel and no one will notice? Every since I turned 50 I swear people have gone nuts.

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  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    People have been crazy and stupid for a long, long time. As long as there have been people. The "green spin" is just the latest fad. Too few take a holistic approach to environmental issues. Ever see that program on "green" houses? Just because they throw in a few pieces of recycled material gives them the right to splurge on ridiculous size and configuration.

    My passive solar works fine. A little too fine at times.:p Nothing complicated about it: south-facing windows.

    In most cases, retrofitting an existing house for passive solar is too much $ to be practical. You might as well bring in the dozer and start over.
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    dmiller wrote: »
    On another forum there's a current discussion about a couple who are building up a 33 ton 8x8 former Army truck to travel and apparently lecture people on environmental responsibility.... ...Put the green spin on a 33 ton diesel ....

    There are a few of us who are perfectly willing to speak out about the "hypocrisy" of a situation. It sometimes makes for bad feelings, I always try to 'spin' it for the speakers who are showing the use of solar, but am quite willing to say, "I live off grid and it does NOT make me green" as an example if they are making false claims.

    Then I'll state something about minimal sqarefootage homes and using @ 1- 2 KW of electric a day equating that to blow drying ones hair for 10 minutes and while toasting bread in the central air for 30 minutes...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • SolarLurker
    SolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    I understand what you are saying about the hypocrites, I work with socially responsible investments and it seem like everyone and there brother claims to be green. It seems like every company with a recycling program all of the sudden is green.

    It can be a little frustrating, however if the new keeping up with the Jones, is going green then it is still a victory.

    It's all relative, I am sure many off grid folks would consider my net zero house hypocritical, I use near 1800 kw in the summer.
  • mikeo
    mikeo Solar Expert Posts: 386 ✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    The "green spin" is just the latest fad. Too few take a holistic approach to environmental issues. Ever see that program on "green" houses?
    For me being green means putting more greenbacks in my bank account. That means spending less dollars on things that I don't really need.
  • solar_dave
    solar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,397 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    mikeo wrote: »
    For me being green means putting more greenbacks in my bank account. That means spending less dollars on things that I don't really need.

    Yep me too, it all works to my advantage as a capitalist or doesn't happen (mostly). Like my new building (man cave) R27+ walls with R40+ Attic (may blow an additional 6 -10 inches in there if the AC draw is too high). the added insulation costs were minimal during construction. The 3 way mini split with DC inverter technology cost a few bucks more but it made it so I only had one ac power run for the electrician, meet the city code requirement for a separate AC unit in the garage and it has a higher seer rating. It kept the AC guys labor costs down nicely as well. It also lets me run each room at a different temp saving some power unless the room is occupied.

    Now some of my green motivation has been the "Happy wife, Happy life" syndrome. Like my solar thermal setup will take pretty much forever to payback but my wife can show it off as green bling. She is the one with the environmental conscience. But I do love the virtually unlimited hot water. So there are other motivations to power green. ;)
  • Ralph Day
    Ralph Day Solar Expert Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    My research showed solar thermal to be the fastest payback in the solar realm. Mine cuts the propane use for hot water to zero for at least the 4 summer months of the year, and greatly reduces it during the winter months. Mind you, I have to brush off the snow to keep it that way.

    Ralph
  • solar_dave
    solar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,397 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    My research showed solar thermal to be the fastest payback in the solar realm. Mine cuts the propane use for hot water to zero for at least the 4 summer months of the year, and greatly reduces it during the winter months. Mind you, I have to brush off the snow to keep it that way.

    Ralph

    My nat gas bill was running about $40-50 a month, half of it fees, so if my usage drops to zero it is only about $20-25 a month or $240-300 a year, long payback, but MAMA is happy!
  • drees
    drees Solar Expert Posts: 482 ✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    My nat-gas bill is $5-$10/month in the warm months (March-Nov).

    In the cold months it's $10-$25/month now that we have a 95% efficient furnace. The 1970s furnace we had before used up to 3x more gas and was never as comfortable.

    Given that our gas bill for water heating is at most $100/year - why would we spend thousands to install passive solar water heating when the break-even is even further out than PV? Our water heater isn't even all that great - it's a 5 year old 80% efficient unit that does a poor job of regulating temperature. A 95% unit that let us set the water temp a bit lower would be a better investment. We try to set our water temp as low as possible - to the point where we use nearly 100% hot water while taking showers - this is well below the recommended temperature setting of 125F or higher.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    It's like what real estate agents always say: "Commission, commission, commission!"
    Er, no, that's "Location, location, location.":p

    What's most efficient (or "greenest") here is not necessarily going to be so there.
    A long time ago when the Earth was green and there were more kinds of animals than you've ever seen we had the good sense to build with the materials at hand for the climate we lived in. No trees? Don't build with wood. Makes more sense than importing "renewable" Brazilian hardwood 6,000 miles, doesn't it?

    Now it's come to "one-size-fits-all-straight-off-the-plan-import-everything-from-half-way-'round-the-world" and it's pretty stupid.

    Some "recycled" goods actually use more energy to recycle than to produce from raw, and the "land-fill savings" doesn't get factored in to "virgin product" pricing - so people buy the cheaper, "less green" equivalent.

    It's never simple, is it?
  • myhouse07
    myhouse07 Registered Users Posts: 17
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    Hello I build Green home's or leed home's in wyoming.

    Passive home's for the most part don't sell well. They look odd and heat up in the summer and in the winter most set-up's end up with one super hot room that heats the rest of the house.

    I find it better to build a nice looking home with 2x6 walls with 1" foam bord on the out side to stop thermal bridging. I also use windows with low heat lose. With good low heat lose windows R 28 walls and R 60 cellings. I can heat a 4000 to 6000 sqft home with one high eff. boiler, solar water panels for radianted heat floors. That gives you the most amzing heat for only a 100 bucks a month of Lp gas and free DHW too.

    The best part is a well built eff. home will be cool in the summer too. Most of my home owner don't need AC in the summer. :D
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    as myhouse has said passive solar can be utilized very well in basic home designs without getting ridiculous or going over-board. properly designing things with passive solar in mind can be done even by allowing more and/or larger windows to be facing a southern exposure. one could go too far by having one very large southern exposure window heating 1 large room with no windows on the north face at all. there isn't a need to go that far with it and careful planning can incorporate an awning or an overhang to allow solar gains in winter while stopping solar gains in the summer. even shutters can have their place in functionality here.
    of course all of that depends on good design and insulating practices and should be done regardless of passive solar utilization.
  • dmiller
    dmiller Solar Expert Posts: 68 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    What's being done with storing night cool during the summer? I've found just a whole house fan works well most summers. But there must be newer ways to cool thermal mass at night.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    dmiller wrote: »
    What's being done with storing night cool during the summer? I've found just a whole house fan works well most summers. But there must be newer ways to cool thermal mass at night.

    Thermal mass is the key: if the thermal mass is inside the house and the house is well insulated, once the desired internal temperature is achieved it is more easily maintained.

    Since "cool" is actually a lower level of heat energy, anything that helps keep the interior temperature from going up during the day is good. Like grillin' outside on the BBQ instead of inside on the range! :D

    Otherwise you have to find efficient ways to dump the heat.
    And if I wanted to start another argument I'd draw a parallel between this and global warming, but I don't so I won't. :p
  • Mangas
    Mangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    Agree, the total design and thermal mass comment is very, very important

    We started with total design rather than a solar retrofit. Rastra block construction, triple pane windows, shutters and metal roof all were essential.

    Many people have made the long trek up to see our off grid system with green in mind. They leave not so much disillusioned but better informed about their ambitious expectations about saving the planet, conservation and the cost of a reliable off grid solar system built by experienced people willing to do it so far from town.

    After my candor, I always feel a little guilty but assured one more person better understands 2010 off grid solar is an expensive way produce power. Some do it anyway.

    In our case, we didn't build the system to be green. We built it to power our location and our lifestyle. Selfish maybe. Expensive? Depends how you look at it.

    Given our strong sense of independance, we never looked back.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • mlail
    mlail Registered Users Posts: 22
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    Mangas,

    Got any PIC's? Maybe a web like for the rest of us that are too far away to take the trek?

    While I understand everyone's issue with calling themselves "Green", I only want to build a retirement home that is free from external charges as our life style will allow.
  • Mangas
    Mangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    Here are acouple of pics of the fixed mount 44 panel array, 4 SW Plus 5500 watt inverters, 2 FlexMax 80s' and air extraction system.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Dave Angelini
    Dave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,776 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    dmiller wrote: »
    What's being done with storing night cool during the summer? I've found just a whole house fan works well most summers. But there must be newer ways to cool thermal mass at night.

    The old way is worth considering also! Live in the mountains!

    Nice install mangas! Hard to not love the desert, for me at least! I don't think of it as selfish but rather the alternative to going crazy!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Nevada mountain area
       htps://offgridsolar1.com/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • dgsloan
    dgsloan Registered Users Posts: 22
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?
    mlail wrote: »
    Mangas,

    Got any PIC's? Maybe a web like for the rest of us that are too far away to take the trek?

    While I understand everyone's issue with calling themselves "Green", I only want to build a retirement home that is free from external charges as our life style will allow.

    I agree with your concept - Since investing in the Stock Market will not give good returns then why not put your money where it will save you the most during retirement. Even aquariums (Thermal mass) help regulate house tempurature and they only become expensive if you buy the fish. With the right exposer to sunlight they are very inexpensive to maintain - and with barley straw and ultra violet light source there are no algae problems. Another way that I have read about to regulate heating is reflective - redirecting sunlight thru existing windows. Has anyone had any experience with this concept? Windows can get expensive especially if you get them with a high R rating - I would think that reflective would be more economical.
  • Mangas
    Mangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: What ever happened to passive solar?

    Thanks Dave,

    Very challenging environment for most people.

    After a visit to town, a good horse in the desert mountains and the grid far away is a pretty good sedative for us.

    Seeing your mountains behind you, know you agree.

    The fly swatter was our way of keeping technology in perspective.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers