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on January 18, 2004
I have spent a lot of time researching passive solar designs using books from the library & information on the internet. A lot of books on solar designs are from the 70's & 80's and the designs lead to overheating of homes by overglazing (too many windows). Some of the more current books on solar design gave more vague information, and didn't thoroughly describe concepts and materials.
This book has it all! Very good information on all the design elements, such as direction of home, foundation designs, window ratios, as well as recommendations for particular products. The book had in-depth information on all the available heating systems including solar heating, heat pumps, & radiant floor heating. At the end of the description for each heating system, there was a pro/con list that talked about the energy effiency, cost, & performance of each heating system over others . There was a helpful chart on hot water heaters with payback periods for different fuels (solar, electric, gas, propane) so you could compare the costs associated with the fuel. In all of my research, this was the first such chart that really spelled out the benefits of certain fuels over others. The book was written in 2002, so it is very up-to-date with the most current products & concepts.
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on February 10, 2003
The Solar House: Passive Heating And Cooling by global environmental issues expert Daniel D. Chiras is an "user friendly" architectural guide to choosing and implementing an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly backup heating system, and thereby making any dwelling both cost-effective and naturally heated and/or air conditioned. Black-and-white sketches clearly illustrate the detailed walk-throughs about the basics of passive solar heating, passive cooling, assessing the performance of one's energy system and much more. An excellent guide for embracing ecology-friendly living, The Solar House is especially recommended as a do-it-yourself home reference for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in making their personal home as comfortable and environmentally friendly as possible.
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on November 19, 2002
At last -- a comprehensive, easy-to-read, well-illustrated solar house book, perfect for architectural students, build-it-yourselfers and masters of solar technology as well -- who will benefit from the many important lessons learned.
My delight with the book began when I first saw its elegant cover. The more I read, the more I realized what a treasure it is. I was especially interested in the latest information on radiant floor heating, ground source heat pumps, and passive cooling. It makes me feel good to know that a book this full of information, yet so accessible, may result in significant reductions in the 44% of total household energy used for heating and cooling.
Chiras combines several decades of personal experience with information from some of the best minds in the field. His stated goal of producing a comprehensive and accurate book is well met. Nice job -- get a copy!
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on November 20, 2003
The Solar House by Dan Chiras is a masterpiece. Chiras' inimitable style shows through on every page. Like his other books, the writing is clear and engaging. The book is well organized and full of useful information. It is an absolute delight to read.
Most books on passive solar tend to ignore or give superficial treatment to several vital subjects, for example, passive cooling, region-specific design, indoor air quality, and back-up heating systems. And many books still propagate some pretty bad designs. Not this one!
The Solar House covers passive solar design and construction in great detail, drawing on modern science and architecture, yet is easy to read and understand. Not only will you find just about everything you need to know about designing an energy-efficient solar home, you will learn about common mistakes still being made by some designers -- and ways to avoid them! It could save you a fortune on construction and heating and cooling costs.

This book is useful to architects and owner-builders. Even if you have read other books on the subject, you owe it to yourself to add this book to your library. It's worth its weight in gold.
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on January 9, 2003
I highly recommend 'The Solar House' to anyone with an interest in passive solar design. The book is a great primer on the subject giving well informed information on many aspects of solar design. The author does just what I hoped he would... dispelling many of the myths associated with passive solar design. He shares practical experience on what works and what doesn't in the real world for warm and cold climates.
This makes an excellent first book to read on the subject. For those who have read others, this is a great source of updated knowledge and a complement to any collection. It is by far the most comprehensive and useful book on solar design that I have seen on the market.
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on October 7, 2005
Whether you intend to act as the general contractor or leave everything to somebody else, this book is an excellent resource for how to get it right when incorporating passive solar features into a house. From site selection to plan orientation and proper glazing placement and thermal storage, The Solar House illustrates what works and what doesn't. Don't buy land or build a new house or sun space without reading it first!
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on February 11, 2006
This book is a must for people wanting to build a house that will have lasting value as oil prices continue to zigzag their way higher over the next 50 years due to "the end of oil." Dr. Chiras, it is clear, has practical experience in this subject through his several passive solar houses the last of which he seems to have built himself. In this book he covers, among other things, integrated passive design, energy-efficient design and construction, passive solar heating and cooling, back-up sustainable heating, health matters.

The material is well illustrated and explained. The only math is rather simple in Chapter 7 which describes the design process of a passive home and assessing its performance. This chapter also describes computer programs available to do the arithmetic for you.

Reference material is given throughout the book, and a very thorough resource guide of ten pages is provided at the end of the book.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to build a house that will survive the next fifty years without driving the owner into deep debt!
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on July 25, 2006
This is a book with a good deal of information on solar homes. But the author repeats himself over and over. The book could have been writen in about 70 pages instead of 270 pages. Also the author does not give you all the necessary information that he could. Instead he refers you to different websites throughout the book. Before I read this book I had already done a lot of research on solar houses on the internet, though this does take more time the information was free and covered at least 80% of what is in this book. With a little more research I probably could have found the rest. The book is still a good read though.
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on July 9, 2006
The ideas seem sound and helpful; however, the book would be better written more to the point and include more pictures. It reads like a high school essay that has to be 10 pages long but you only have 5 pages of material for -- so you pad.
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on November 4, 2007
Everyone I talked to stated this as the first book someone should read to come up to speed on passive solar designs. And it is a good overview. But only an overview, providing lots of concept and a few "rules of thumb" only. Taken for what it is, this is a very good introduction to passive solar concepts. You'll have to look elsewhere for more detailed information if you plan to participate in the design phase of a passive solar building, or to learn enough to evaluate another's design. There are a few good references in the book to other materials as well.
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