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Posts: 7
Reply with quote  #11 
I'm designing my next house & have great solar potential at 8,800' altitude in central Colorado.

South wall will have room for 200 ft2 of vertical collectors on ICF wall.

I'm considering Trombe Wall at about 25-30% efficiency, and hot air panels at about 40-50%

I have more than enough double pane sliding glass doors.

Trying to decide?



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Posts: 1,845
Reply with quote  #12 
   Sounds nice! If I had the sliding panels and wall space I would build hot pair panels using the sliding panels you have and vented soffit panels in the design of a screen panel.  This is a efficient, high output collector that is hard to beat for performance, looks great, and would last a long time with very little maintenance.  Just put good filters on to keep dust and bugs out of the collector.  The only down side is the sliding glass panels are heavy so if you had to mount them high it might be harder.

Posts: 720
Reply with quote  #13 
John Johnston...how ambitious are you?

You mention a passive panel to collect heat & eletricity.

How good is your soldering skills?? Solar PV 'cells' produces a lot of heat. I'm envisioning a panel using the cells as the collector. The cells would need to be suspended in the panel to allow air flow on front & back side.

Here's the kicker. You have to solder the indivual cells together. I honestly don't know if it would generate as much hot air as a dual screen or other type of hot air collector. However it would provide the electricity you mentioned.

It's a ton of work soldering those cells together. Oh yea, they are extremely fragile. I included a picture of a Solar PV panel I built a few years ago. It's the best picture I have showing the size of the wiring.

Buying solar cells (on ebay) isn't cheap!

It's an idea though if you are really, really ambitious!

Central IL

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #14 
I was thinking of mounting a collector similar to yours onto a Homestead WaterTower and using a split tank to store the Hot/cold water elevated.  I'm looking for brainstorming ideas on combining w/ a water pumping Windmill and Wood Boiler (Current System) with a solar/watertower to lessen the wood I burn and also provide non-electric water pumping for home/greenhouse/livestock in the frozen Northwoods of Wisconsin.

The watertower would most likely be like the plan at the website below


Any Ideas??
Paul (woodboyz)

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #15 
First off thank you all for the great info on simply solar. 

I have recently moved into a home that has a trombe wall. It is two foot thick cinder block.  The area of the entire main floor i am looking to heat is 2000sqft. Though the most important for me to heat is the main living area.
The interior pic shows the holes at the top some covered with wood block. The inlet is at the base of the wall(not seen) and is a rectangle hole about 4 X8.

The exterior wall has 4 windows and the rest are trombe walls with double pane glass and a 3.5 inch gap between the wall and the glass.

I am looking for some insight.

1. What type of passive solar would be recommended for the current situation: Screen or downspout?

2. If downspout, any ideas on heating the three rooms with one unit? Or should I focus on only the main living area?

I was thinking of running a main air line across the base of the wall with a split running into each of the sections. I am not sure if there is a big enough fan to push the air through.

Thank you for your time and info.


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Posts: 1,845
Reply with quote  #16 
Wow, that has a lot of possibilties but I am not sure I understand enough of what you have.
The trombe wall is behind everything that does not have the little square screen thingy? 
The Tromb wall sections have no input vents from the inside?
The wall/collector is just glass 3.5 inches, then cinder blocks? are they painted black?
Is the overhang sufficient to keep it from overheating and is is vented at all.
Can you get inside the panels to modify them?
What is that ridge type thing inside the panel a foot up from the bottom?

Nice find, sorry lots of questions and no answers.

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #17 
Dan, thank you for your reply.

Sections 3,6,8 and 11 from left to right are windows from top to bottom with the bottom 3rd being a window that slides open. All other sections are the solid cinder block wall with the block painted black, the 3.5 inch gap and then the double pane glass. 

There is a 4 inch by 8 inch inlet on the bottom of each section, which can't be seen on any of the pics, there are two 2 inch circular outlets on the top of each section.

The overhang was designed to block the sun from hitting the wall in the summer months (by June it is fully shaded) and start to heat it in September.

Only small amounts of air come through the outlets now. I think part of the problem is that the seal between the frame and the glass is not very good and heat escapes. So I will be removing the glass repainting the wall, sealing the leaks in the sections and putting a new outer frame around the glass. This is when I would like to add the screen or aluminum downspout or an type of modification that will improve the output.
There is no electric venting or in line fan to push the air through. That is something I would like to add if needed.

I think the ridge you are seeing is the reflection of the railroad ties. There is currently nothing inside the collector with the exception of moths, bees and a lot of dust.

Thanks again


Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #18 
John Johnston,

It is my understanding that PV panels lose efficiency the hotter they get. Inside a collector the object is for the air to heat up. The question then is, does the amount of heated air produced have greater value then the reduction of electricity produced?

I appreciate your mind set of squeezing every bit of value out of your system, our world needs more of that.


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Posts: 1,845
Reply with quote  #19 
   Seems like you have it all under control, I would add screen as you have a lot of area and screen works better and is far cheaper.  In the mean time maybe you could experiment by addeing a few small fans to the inputs to see how much heat you get out.  You should do this anyway so you know what kind of improvement you get when you modify the system.  You mentions bugs, you should also think about adding screens to the inputs and outputs to prevent this.

Posts: 720
Reply with quote  #20 
I agree with Dan, black screen would be the easiest, cheap to install. In this case you DO want the wall to heat up, so a single layer of screen 'may' be the best. That woulds allow enough sun to go thru to heat the wall.

Of course, you have the opportunity to have 1 section single layer the next 2 layers. Monitor temps to see which performs the best.

The only problem I have with passive is the airflow. It's severely limited if both input/output vents aren't the same size. Since there's only a few hours per day to generate heat...I say install a fan, blow in as much heat as possible.

The walls are 2' thick, making wider vent holes truly isn't a good option (better air flow).
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