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The Passive Solar House: Using Solar Design to Cool and Heat Your Home, 2nd Edition Hardcover – Jul 31 2006

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Product Description

About the Author

James Kachadorian is a civil engineer with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is the founder of Green Mountain Homes, a company which gained national recognition as the first provider of innovative, manufactured solar homes. He has built more than 300 passive solar homes. Kachadorian resides in Woodstock, Vermont.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Subtitle Misleading - This Book is about Passive Solar Heating Nov. 28 2006
By TJ in Houston - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A more accurate title / subtitle would be: The Passive Solar House: The Complete Guide to Heating Your Home. I say this because there is only a page and a half out of 224 pages given to cooling (that is pages 110-111). I realized that I may have purchased the wrong book when I read in the Preface the following:

"The knowledge imparted in this book has been accumulated from over 30 years of data gathered from several hundred solar homes located in the northern tier of the United States, from North Carolina to and including Canada and west to the mountain states. These are locations that are primarily focused on heating."

I live near the gulf coast, and was interested in learning about passive means to cool my home, in addition to heating. (As I write this just after midnight, at the end of November, my Air Conditioner is necessarily on!) This is probably a 4 to 5 star book for those living in the cooler regions of the country, and I do not intend to discourage those living in such areas from reading this book. And, if I move to a cooler region after retiring, I will probably pull this book out and review it.
70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous and excellent EXCEPT for... June 12 2007
By D. Garcia - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First to address TJ in Houston's cooling problems. 1) movable awnings over windows and walls exposed to sunlight 2) slit windows at the bottom and top of the north side wall will allow heat to escape at the top which will pull cool air in at the bottom, especially at night and especially in a two story building. You might also explore cooling towers which essentially do the same thing.

I've been involved with building houses for several decades, and I've been thinking passive solar for quite some time too. In fact many of the ideas in this book are very similar to ideas I've developed independently.

I've seen everything on thousands of jobs from everyday homes to ultra gigantic mansions. One thing I've learned from the BEST builders is to avoid the experimental. Avoid extravagant shapes. Build simple buildings. Put your money into quality material and hardware... unless you want problems. And please keep the place neat. Nobody likes tripping over or cleaning up garbage the last guy left. Call your subs BEFORE you need them and ask them what drives them nuts, instead of finding out you made the same goof everyone makes, after you've spent a bunch of TIME and MONEY building it wrong.

I have to say the slab thing, and the ideas about the Sun's inclination etc are ingenious. They've changed my thinking considerably.


Well mainly some small, but galling, typos, and the lack of a website, or at least an obvious website. James needs to get feedback on these problems and the revisions need to be posted somewhere so they don't keep driving people nuts:

1) on page 76, Table 6-10 it says "see appendix 4." If you use appendix 4, like I did, it will totally confuse you and give you a headache. It SHOULD read appendix 5. The data on appendix 4 LOOKS like it MIGHT work which makes the problem worse. This one took me almost an hour to figure out.

2) The book has many pictures and come with even more on a CD, many useless, like a picture of a truck delivering stuff. I've seen trucks on roads before James. This is no help. However there is no CLEAR picture of HOW the slab is CONNECTED to the foundation walls. I'd like to see a close up. The diagrams are not clear enough on this issue. I don't have that much experience in this area and I'd like an answer. It seems to me that if the slab is in contact with the foundation wall there will be heat loss thought transmission from the slab to the foundation wall. Isn't that why the wall is insulated on the inside? If the slab does not contact the wall it seems to me that it's free floating which makes me nervous. In the diagram it looks like plywood ties the slab and wall together which make me think termites. Poured concrete slabs are usually tied together using rebar or similar. What is the secret?

3) on page 67 he goes though a series of equations to derive the elegant end equation I=Btus/hr·ºF. However you don't need the last equation to derive the information on the next pages. You need the NEXT to the last equation. It took me half and hour to get past that confusion. I kept looking for the LAST equation. Where oh where was it? The math is moderately difficult for us non engineer people but this typo made my head hurt. Ouch!

4) the diagram on page 46 appears to have a stud that makes a 45 degree turn and then another 45 degree turn??? I really don't think it does this, but I'll be durned if I can figure what they are trying to illustrate.

Anyway James, if you see this please put up a little tiny website with your email address please, so we can contact you about errors. A web appendix with corrected typos would be nice too. Websites are cheap and easy now days and you don't need much of a website really.

Otherwise great ideas.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Buy This Book Before You Build Sept. 17 2006
By B. Waggoner - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent resource for anybody who plans to build any kind of solar house. Several detailed (yet easy) design examples walk you through all the necessary heat gain and loss calculations which are necessary for all successful (i.e. comfortable and effective) solar structures. Many types of backup heating systems (including wood stoves) are discussed, including how they work together with the solar heating system. Lots of useful tables and other data in the appendices. This book focuses on a single "solar slab" design concept (which precludes the use of a basement), and only mentions other possible solar designs in passing. That said, it would be foolish to design a solar house without having this very affordable and excellent book in your reference library.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Describes some original thinking into solar houses Nov. 13 2006
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book on solar house design that I've seen where the author is a professional engineer who worked in the housing industry. He built houses of the conventional design when energy was cheap. When the price of energy started going up he began looking into solar heated homes and eventually got a patent on a passive system that is remarkably inexpensive when compared with other systems.

Basically he designed a large mass of concrete that acts as a big heat sink. That is, when the house is warmer than the concrete, heat flows into the concrete, cooling the house. When the house is cooler. Heat flows out from the concrete, warming the house.

There are a lot of solar systems that work this way, the advantage of his is that it uses standard, i.e. cheap, concrete blocks and a poured slab. He further designs the layout of this concrete so that air would flow through passages in the concrete blocks without the necessity of having blowers to force the air through.

All in all, the book contains some very clever ideas, and has both simple explanations of how it works with enough theory and mathematics to enable you to design your own house. This is made easier through using the software contained on the CD supplied with the book. Here is a fairly complete, fairly simple design tool that will allow you to do a lot of the basic design work of your own solar home. This is not the style of your home, it is the design of the solar aspects.

Anyone thinking of a solar home would be foolish to not spend the few dollars this book costs to get and understand Mr. Kachadorian's concepts.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Solar Home Design Jan. 9 2007
By Joseph Costion - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have been using this book as a text book for my class - Solar Home Design for the past several years because the thermal analysis worksheets are an excellent way for my students to learn the fundamental principles of energy & thermal performance of various building envelope systems. The worksheets allow my students to calculate any size or type of building and design for any location desired. Students conclude via the worksheets the Solar peformance ratios per month and annual solar performance , plus the needed supplemental heat required from a variety of heat sources.

This is an excellent book for teaching thermal performance and energy balances of residential buildings to adults interested in designing a comfortable Solar Home.