direct and indirect use of solar energy

Passive Use of Solar Energy

In the use of solar energy, a distinction is drawn between the active and passive use of solar energy.
The active use of solar energy necessitates the application of equipment such as solar collectors, pipework, collector vessels circulation pumps for the transfer of the solar energy. This system entails large investment and maintenance costs which must be recovered solely by saving in the cost of energy. As a result, such systems cannot be operated economically in single family houses.

The greatest energy losses from a building that uses solar energy arise due to the conduction of heat through windows, walls, ceilings and roofs.

In the passive use of solar energy, the heat is utilised through direct incident radiation and heat storage in specific structural components such as walls and floors.
The passive use of solar energy necessitates the use of specific structural components as heat stores, such as walls, ceilings and glazed units.

Because of the conditions under which solar energy is used passively, the arrangement of the ground plan necessarily follows a particular logical layout. The living and sleeping accommodation – which will be used continuously, or in other words used for long-term – should be facing south and provided with large window areas. It is useful to provide glazed structures in these living and sleeping areas.

There are three important reasons for this when you apply the passive use of solar energy:

  1. Extension of the living area
  2. Gain in solar energy
  3. Provision of a thermal buffer zone


The seldom-used low-temperature unheated rooms, with low natural light requirements should be facing north. They act as a buffer zone between the warm living area and the cold outside climate.

The efficiency of this system depends on specific factors:

  1. Climatic conditions – mean monthly temperature, solar geometry and incident solar radiation, hours of sunshine and level of incident energy radiation
  2. Method of using the solar energy – indirect usage, direct usage
  3. Choice of materials – absorption capability of the surface and heat storage capability of the materials
use of solar energy

use of solar energy


This “Use of Solar Energy” is taken from the book Architects’ Data written by Ernst and Peter Neufert, whereas this book has become the guideline for architecture college students in the world.

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