Solar options and considerations:











Passive Solar

Passive solar is basically designing the home and environment to optimise solar augmented home heating and cooling.

In effect, Passive solar is designed into the home from day one. It uses strategic windows, optional passive interior heat sinks such as floors, walls and fireplaces to absorb as much solar heat as possible.  Even on seemingly overcast days, some solar energy gets through, with a corresponding temperature improvement in the home.

The heat sinks absorb heat during the day and slowly release at night helping stabilize the home throughout the 24hr. day, and effectively reducing the huge temperature swings, especially overnight.

It is important to indicate your consideration of Passive Solar early on to allow us to provide you with options that fit your budget and mindset.  Some options such as overhangs are immedialty cost effective.

Some of the considerations for Passive Solar might include:

  • Thermal heat sink in floor, chimney or walls

  • Trombe Wall

  • Placement of deciduous trees

  • Home automation including remote opening skylights

  • Solar blinds

  • Home Orientation

  • Overhangs for summer shade

This is an example of a simple relocation of a massive thermal heat sink to a location where midday-afternoon sun can warm the fireplace rocks, slowly releasing the heat overnight.

Of interest the above installation could have been improved by moving thermal mass closer to the windows, and to have used a darker stone to better absorb the rays of the sun. Below clerestory or Skylight windows can add light and warmth to other rooms, located away from the sun.


Active Solar  Options


Active solar uses pipes, a collector typically on the roof, and a reservoir of heat, typically a huge water tank. It is common practice to use solar heat to augment hot water tanks in the home. The savings can be huge. 

Photovoltaic Solar cells can also considered active solar and if excess power is generated beyond your normal use, the excess can be sold back to your power grid, effectively turning the meter backwards. Solar cells are still quite expensive and have a long payback period. 

Wind power is also a form of Solar energy, as is wave power. In some locations, where councils allow, wind energy can provide a solid ancillary income. Locations with average wind speeds in excess of 25kph are excellent candidates.


Pre-Planning: If you are considering active solar in the future, but not when you build your new home, it is a good idea to run a low cost conduit from the roof/attic to ground level during construction. This is simply 2 lengths of 60mm  thin-wall plastic pipe, run vertical through the inside of the walls. Then you can simply feed the pipes through the conduit at a later date.


Active Solar Panel

  1. Use a Solar panel to heat your hot water cylinder. This can amount to a 30% power savings.

  2. Heat a larger heat reservoir (insulated water tank, or stone/rocks). Residual heat can then be piped into the home as needed

  3. Large Arrays of Photovoltaic cells can turn your meter backwards, effectively storing your solar energy in the power grid.

Note: each power company have their own requirements. Sometimes two meters (in and out) may be required to wholesale power back to the power grid. Intrinsic safety measures must also be in place to ensure no back powering of broken lines. Synchronous inverters are typically built this way, no power 50 hertz in from the grid, means no power out. This is an important safety measure.