Passive solar techniques do not rely on solar panels. Their goal is not to produce electricity or to heat water. Their goal is to achieve thermal comfort by protecting the house from the elements, or by getting solar heat gains, by proper orientation of the house, and by using design and architectural features (shape of the house, windows, overhangs…).
In a strict sense, passive solar techniques do not require pumps, fans or electronic controls.
And we shouldn't confuse passive solar with passive solar houses (PassiveHaus), a special type of low-energy homes, relying on very high levels of insulation (super-insulation) and on a rigid set of construction standards.
Though passive solar houses (PassiveHaus) may use passive solar techniques, they involve a lot more.
Passive solar is not an off-the-shelf solution.
Buildings should be properly sized and properly sited and oriented to the sun (or protected from it); they should also have convenient shape and layout (compact shapes are advantageous in cold climates).
Architectural features are very important for a solar passive approach.
They include elements such as the size of the windows on the different walls; overhangs, shading and landscaping, or floors and walls designed to store solar heat gains (high thermal mass floors and walls)
Passive solar design involves proper landscape design, to protect the building from cold winds, or to get breezes and shade during the summer.
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