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Comment: Very light wear to corners. No highlighting or underlining. Name written on inside of front cover.
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The Passive Solar House: Using Solar Design to Heat and Cool Your Home (Real Goods Independent Living Book) Paperback – May, 1997

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Published in concert with the Real Goods Trading Company of California, this book explains in detail the whys and wherefores of a particular form of passive solar design, formerly patented but now in the public domain. The patent was held by the author and used while he was president of Green Mountain Homes, a fabricator of post-and-beam kit homes. The science he used and describes here is settled and elegant, even quaint, and is detailed to a degree that could be off-putting to some readers. On the bright side, the enthusiasm he brings to the subject is useful, even to those prospective homebuilders who may not be interested in solar heating and cooling. The book is suffused with a sensitivity to environmental issues of all sorts, a useful perspective in these resource-limited times. An essentially simple book, elegant in presentation and forceful in argument; recommended for extensive scientific (for the references and associated calculations) and/or broader home-building collections.?Alexander Hartmann, INFOPHILE, Williamsport, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


For the past ten years The Passive Solar House has offered proven techniques for building homes that heat and cool themselves, using readily available materials and methods familiar to all building contractors and many do-it-yourself homeowners. True to this innovative, straightforward approach, the new edition of this best-selling guide includes CSOL passive solar design software, making it easier than ever to heat your home with the power of the sun. Since The Passive Solar House was first published, passive solar construction expert James Kachadorian has perfected user-friendly, PC-compatible software to supplement the design process explained in the book by allowing homeowners/designers to enter the specifications of their design and see how changing a variable will affect its energy efficiency. This is the building book for a world of climbing energy costs. Applicable to diverse regions, climates, budgets, and styles of architecture, Kachadorian's techniques translate the essentials of timeless solar design into practical wisdom for today's solar builders. Profiles of successful passive solar design, construction, and retrofit projects from readers of the first edition provide inspiration to first-time homebuilders and renovators alike.

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Product Details

  • Series: Real Goods Independent Living Book
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company; First Edition edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930031970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930031978
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By J. Vogt on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book in a bookstore in Bar Harbor, Maine and 1 year later built a house around its concepts on the coast in Downeast Maine. The house is performing to expectations. We have had no problems over 3 years.
Before proceeding, our building plans were independantly verified by a mechanical contractor. He found that the formulas presented in the book were accurate and dependable.
The concrete crib added about $3K to the overall cost of the house (it has a 25'x40' footprint) and the windows had to be specially ordered from Andersen. We also had some trouble finding the 6 mil aluminized mylar.
The only departure we made from the plans presented was we decreased the amount of air exchange by 50% over what was recommended. We used an outside air intake that funneled outside air into the crib and the bathroom vents (2) for exhaust. We have had no problems with this.
I was fortunate to have found a contractor who was willing to take the time to understand the concept and then successfully build to the specifications. A number of foundation contractors turned us down. The contractor had to do the foundation himself. It went very smoothly.
If you are serious about building this house, be sure to have very specific architectural plans for your builder....she/he will need them. Procuring the services of a "green" architect who buys into these stuff is most helpful.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Henry Perkins on April 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
"The Passive Solar House" explains in detail a system that the author patented (patents since expired) for a passive design using a concrete slab for thermal mass. There are detailed worksheets to let a prospective homebuilder figure out expected temperatures and available solar intake throughout the United States. Along with the formulas and worksheets, you can figure out how much insulation, concrete slab mass, air duct area, and heating plant capacity you'll need to incorporate the author's system into your house plans. While the author's patents were in effect his company sold dozens of passive solar houses in factory-built modules. Many of those houses are depicted in both exterior and interior photographs.
While the thermal slab approach works equally well to buffer temperature swings for both heating and cooling, the book's emphasis is on solar heating. Conventional above-ground construction is assumed for the most part, but the treatment on the "sidehill" variant can be extended to included earth-bermed or buried houses.
The illustrations are generally good. In a few cases they are more diagramatic than detailed; however, with enough attention to the illustrations and the text, most details can be gleaned. (I'm still trying to figure out the spacing relationship between the concrete slab channels and the return air duct, though.) But this is definitely a book more about solar design than engineering or construction.
"The Passive Solar House" could be improved by including more techniques for summer shading (such as awnings and overhangs) rather than just assuming deciduous tree plantings (which are expensive to keep watered in desert regions). Coverage of solar absorption properties of floors and windows would also be helpful.
Summary: while not perfect, this is a very good book for explaining the author's thermal slab approach to passive solar design.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Gulick on May 1, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is amazing how many houses are plopped down in this country with no consideration of the sun. After reading this book, it becomes apparent that even if we built the same houses, but simply oriented them with respect to the sun (i.e., windowed rooms facing south, closets on the north wall, etc.) we could make drastic reductions in our consumption of natural resources.
The book has general information on site selection, house layout, etc. but also details a manner of building involving forgoing a basement for a floor of concrete (for thermal mass), window placement and insulating shutters. During the day, the house will not overheat because the 'solar slab' soaks it up, while at night recirculation techniques are outlined that make this heat available and comfortable at night. The book also includes all the formulas used in the calculations of thermal mass, window sizing, etc. Even if you don't plan on building the house in this book, I got some great ideas involving placement of a hearth (a vertical thermal mass) in front of windows to put the sun to work minimizing the need for heating fuel. If you are planning a house, I'd highly recommend this book.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Pauls on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was planning a major two-story, south-facing addition to our home on a slab and wanted passive solar already so I was intrigued by this book. It brings together the need for thermal mass to moderate temperature swings, backup heating needs, and provides much needed cooling assistance. I liked how he determined a practical level of insulation and didn't over engineer that aspect. He also covered air quality issues at length.
One small error, I think, was in his design of thermal shutters saying the foil surfaces would reflect heat back into the room while behind wood veneers. I may be wrong, but reflective surfaces don't reflect heat unless there is an airspace adjacent and not up against a solid surface.
I would like to see spreadsheets on disk to make it easier to run your own calculations for your home design and for your region. I would also like to see a chapter on making additions to your home like I'm planning. Adding more information about solar water heating would help complete the book too. I'm curious about the author's experience in this area.
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