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Community and Q&A

Solar Path Finding

Bella Victor | Posted in PassivHaus on

Hello friends,

Am planning to build a two-floor house with the bedrooms downstairs and a media room upstairs in Southeast PA – 3500 square feet.

I would like to incorporate the concepts of passive heating and cross-ventilation.

How does one find the optimal direction to orient the home? Is there solar path information online that is especially useful.

Also would passive solar homes always look unusual. How do you suggest one incorporate these concepts in a traditional-looking home?


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  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    The best online source of tools for passive solar house design is this web site: .

    That said, you may be overthinking your current design issues. In general, passive solar design principles are simple: the long axis of the house should be oriented east to west, and more windows should be placed on the south side of the house than on the north side of the house.

    If you have a large lot that is relatively open, these principles are easy to follow. The only complications arise when a site is small, or when the local views conflict with passive solar principles, or when a homeowner is more interested in facing the street than facing the sun.

    The 1970s idea that a passive solar house should have a huge expanse of glass on the south side of the house is obsolete. These days, designers understand that a house with a moderate amount of south-facing glazing will perform better than a house with a great deal of south-facing glazing. If you are having trouble designing a south facade that looks good to you, it's time to hire an architect.

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