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The Passive Solar House (Real Goods Independent Living Books) by James Kachadorian The Passive Solar House (Real Goods Independent Living Books)
by James Kachadorian

Paperback: 220 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 9.96 x 8.01
Publisher: Chelsea Green Pub Co; (June 1997)
ISBN: 0930031970

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Card catalog description: This book offers a technique for building homes that heat and cool themselves in a wide range of different climates, using ordinary building materials available anywhere and with methods familiar to all building contractors and many do-it-yourselfers. A formerly patented design for author James Kachadorian's Solar Slab heat exchanger is now available for the use of anyone motivated by the desire to build a house that needs a backup furnace or air conditioner rarely if ever. This is a building book for the next century. Applicable to a diversity of regions, climates, budgets, and styles of architecture, Kachadorian's techniques translate the essentials of timeless solar design (siting a home in harmony with nature, using windows as solar collectors, achieving year-round comfort by balancing good insulation with healthy supplies of fresh air) into practical wisdom for today's new generation of solar builders.

From the Author: It's been 3 1/2 years since THE PASSIVE SOLAR HOUSE hit the bookstores and I've been pleased with its reception. The book was written as a "gift" to the public as I realized that the design techniques I used were known only to me. The book has accomplished the goal of having readers of all disciplines read and grasp the theory and go on to design their own solar homes or hire a professional to assist them. Sometimes a little assistance is needed from me but I see the book working as intended.

It's been 25 years since I built the prototype of the system. That building served as my model home and office while I was in the business of designing and shipping solar homes in "kit" form. The building still works like a charm for its new owner.

I've lived in my solar home for 21 years. No problems as the laws of physics are hard to defy. It still amazes me how shortsighted our government's energy policies are. For the last 25 years I have purchased the small amount of fuel oil I need for the year in August when fuel oil prices are at their lowest. I've already made 50% on this year's purchase and the heat season hasn't even begun. It's a nice and secure feeling to be able to heat my home entirely with alternate fuels; or if I chose, to use my back-up oil fired system. My solar home gives me the freedom to plan my purchased energy management to use the least amount possible and obtain the lowest price.

If you decide to purchase the book, I hope you'll find it useful in designing and building your new home to utilize our finite resources in the best way possible and best of all: capturing and storing free solar heat.

Customer Reviews
Hit the mark - Excellent book and from Vermont!, December 3, 2002
Reviewer: Holly B Jeffries from W Topsham, VT United States
Excellent ideas. Well presented. Great reference charts. AND he's from my area so it makes his words that much more applicable to my own situation. This book is a must read (even if you live elsewhere! :-)

A Realistic Option for a Solar Home, October 18, 2002
Reviewer: Greg Harvey from Columbia, MO USA
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.

Pretty good, but not the last word on passive solar., October 7, 2002
Reviewer: scottdriver from Santa Monica, CA USA
Most of the book discusses the author's (admittedly clever) passive solar designs. I learned a considerable amount from the book, but would have appreciated more information about other types of passive solar homes, such as earth sheltered or single-story designs. Well worth the time it takes to read it, but I hope that there is a 2nd edition.

Well thought out, May 1, 2002
Reviewer: dgulick from Littleton, CO USA
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.

I built the house, April 17, 2002
Reviewer: John O. Vogt from Falmouth, ME USA
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.

Great Background Great Data, January 3, 2002
Reviewer: John D. Sarick from Ithaca, NY United States
This books begins with a complete discussion on the benefits of a passive solar design built house along with the data to help you on your way. Worthy purchase.

Good passive solar but only one style..., November 29, 2001
Reviewer: Stacey R Van Keuren from Southeast PA, United States
This has good passive solar info but only is showing one style of how-to. But the style is the author's design so that's understandable and very much in a New England style of building.

The Solar Slab concept is practical and effective., November 25, 2001
Reviewer: wxw from San Diego, CA USA
This book introduces a building method that is inovative and brings forward the knowledge of the last 20 years of solar design. Highly recommended reading.

Excellent resource for solar builders, May 22, 2001
Reviewer: Peter Whitlam from Nottingham, UK
An excellent book for the solar home designer with a good selection of the data tables and worksheets needed to calculate the necessary design criteria, but unfortunately they only cover the USA. Excellent explanation and instructions on the building of a solar slab, and how it interacts with the environment above. All of the principles explained within the book may be applied to other designs. Worth the money !

Getting Away from Rice Power, April 26, 2000
Reviewer: Jimmy Pak from Allentown, PA
My Name is Jimmy Pak, I used to live in Korea where everything was powered by mule. When I moved to America with my wife Ellen Su. we bought our first house here. It sure beats the bamboo shacks we came from. It has been our dream for our kids to grow up in america. Our house needed alot of work so we went on the internet and found this book. This book provided me with the technical know how to complete complex tasks around the house. Just the other day I completely rewired the living room. this book is great, just give me your address and I will send you a pound of rice.

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning Related Book:
The Passive Solar House (Real Goods Independent Living Books)
by James Kachadorian
Paperback: 220 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 9.96 x 8.01
Publisher: Chelsea Green Pub Co; (June 1997)
ISBN: 0930031970

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