What is a Solar House?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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Solar houses are homes that make use of an energy system powered by the collection of solar energy. The typical solar house is outfitted with panels to collect sunlight and batteries to store the collected energy until it is needed. With homes of this type, the collected solar energy may work along with the power supply obtained from the local power grid, or be part of a hybrid system that involves the generation of energy through other alternative means.

The design of a solar house requires paying attention to several key details. In the actual floor plan for the home, care is taken to place windows in locations where they allow the most natural light to enter the space. Since most solar homes are designed with an eye to keeping the consumption of energy as low as possible, strategic placement of the windows helps to reduce the need for overhead and lamplight during the daytime.

Strategically placing the solar house panels is also key to the design. In recent years, panels have been designed that are much less noticeable than in times past. At the same time, the newer panels are capable of more efficiently harvesting energy from the available sunlight, assuming they are positioned so they have the greatest exposure to directly sunlight during the majority of the day. Some designs today call for the panels to be able to tilt and rotate throughout the day, maximizing their efficiency.


The battery storage system of a solar house today is also greatly improved over designs from earlier decades. The storage capacity tends to be higher, while the ability to connect with the home’s wiring system is also streamlined, making it very easy to operate. When working properly, the batteries are more than capable of maintaining an energy supply that will take care of most household needs, including heating, cooling, and operating various appliances.

While a solar house uses solar energy as the primary source of power, there are often ancillary systems in place that can provide power in the event of a system failure. Along with linking to a traditional power grid, the owner of a solar home may also consider investing in wind energy equipment. While more difficult to maintain, people living in areas where the wind is brisk for a good part of the year often find this dual application of alternative energy sources helps them be prepared for just about any contingency, without relying on a utility operated power grid.



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