Passive solar heating - Ancient civilizations used it, we can do it too!
Carson Dalpke
Kerrisdale Elementary
Floor Location : J 038 E

Climate change is one of the biggest problems we are facing and will continue to face. One of the main contributions to climate change is our abundant use of fossil fuels in everything we do, from driving cars to the usage of electronics. The conventional heating of homes significantly contributes to our carbon footprint, but environmentally friendlier heating options exist. I researched passive solar heating as one option and devised an experiment to compare two different systems. I built an experimental house with either a Trombe wall or a direct gain system and measured the temperature inside the house over the course of a “day” by simulating the sun with light bulbs. The temperature was recorded with the light bulbs on for 30 minutes, followed by 45 minutes with lights switched off. From the resulting temperature curves, I was able to draw conclusions regarding the efficiency of different versions of these systems. My results showed that the Trombe wall worked better than the direct gain system at distributing the gained heat over the day and thus kept the temperature in the room comfortable longer into the night. This effect was even more pronounced if insulation was added on the inside of the Trombe wall, but at the expense of overall heat gain over the day. A window cover can be used to reduce temperature gain during the day. The house with the direct gain system warmed up faster than with the Trombe wall, but also loses heat quicker during the night. Thus, the direct gain system temperature is more responsive to changes in the conditions and can be affected more easily while the Trombe wall helps more to distribute the heat over the day. Which system should be used thus depends on local climate and also personal preferences.