Solar Home: Shape and Orientation

Solar homes are a prudent way of tapping solar energy for various purposes. They are also a great way of reducing the electricity and thus are environment friendly. Not only do they help in generating power but also they are a perfect way of reducing the temperature level in summers and increasing the same in winters. Solar homes work not only in absorbing the heat to power electronics in winters but they also help in emitting heat in summers.

Therefore solar homes use solar energy in major parts of the year regardless of whether the sun is shining hard or soft. Therefore solar homes are reliable and much more productive than other sources of solar power generation. They provide a major alternative from the normally built homes.

Building efficient solar homes requires proper orientations and shapes being implemented. It is a primary requirement for the solar homes to have optimum absorption and correspondingly appropriate radiation.

Solar Homes : Orientations Considerations

Solar homes are needed to be built in an ordered and specific shape for proper working. At the time of construction it is very important to take care of the shape and orientation for getting optimum results for a long term. This factor is of great importance.
Proper orientation is equally important for solar homes to deliver the desired power. With the solar energy being available of varying intensity at various levels, orientation becomes a very important factor for making solar homes.

Some of the major orientation aspects to be kept in mind are

  • South facing – Since south facing walls absorb major heat from winter sun and reflect from the summer sun, south facing buildings are preferred over other orientations. The best orientations are considered to be within 30 degrees of east or west due south.
  • Outside air temperatures – Outside air temperatures are also an influential aspect which determines the orientation of the solar homes. For receiving maximum solar energy, major emphasis has to be given to the tapping of energy in the morning and afternoon. Therefore solar homes are built facing south east rather than south west.
  • Other factors like wind, fog, demands and needs – Other important factors like wind and the morning fogs coupled with the needs and requirements of the house owners are also influential for the orientation of the solar home. The exact orientation and angles of the house can be determined once the architect is able to conceive the exact requirements related to the locality. Though the changes are minimal they can prove to be impotant in the long run.

Solar Homes : Shape Considerations

Since the solar radiation is received by varying intensities by different shapes, the shape of the solar homes is also important for boosting the benefits of the solar homes. Various shape related issues to be considered before building a solar home are-

  • Dimensions – The dimensions of the solar homes are important for the proper working of the technology. Proper ratios of length to breadth are required for the making of a productive solar home. Solar homes should not be made in square shapes. Therefore the lengths as well as breadths of the home are different in different directions. Making a solar home in square shape reduces the optimization of the results required.
  • Elongated dimensions in east west – Solar homes are considered to work in a better way if there is an elongation in the east west walls as compared to the length of the north south walls. The east-west elongation can lead to an increase in around 40% of the generation.
  • Placement of windows and wall area – Placement of the windows also affect the efficiency of solar homes. The windows prove to be a discontinuity for homes through which heat can enter and be absorbed or emitted.

solar housing - orientation and shape

Source- Solar Technologies for Buildings

The above graph explains the wall area and windows as a factor to the heating requirements and also the absorption and emission index for such designs. Heavier constructions require more heating and have higher absorption. They should be used at walls built for absorption purposes.

The area of the walls is also a deciding factor which determines the extent of solar power optimization. The more the area of the walls, more is the solar insulation provided by them.

Solar Home : Options Available

Some options available for the solar homes manufacturers are listed below. The options are somewhat affected by the local climatic conditions as well as the users’ needs.

  • South direction is preferable for all latitudes. Between the tropic of cancer and tropic of Capricorn the south faced houses is an important factor.
  • The homes should be from zero to thirty degrees of south to south east. Different angles are taken for different geographical location depending on the sunrise and noon intensity.
  • Homes should not be square. Quadrilaterals with varying lengths and breadth are to be implemented. The length of the east wall should be the most followed by west, north and the south direction.

solar home - orientation
Source-Solar Technologies for Buildings

The above diagram shows the importance of having proper orientation in south and south east where the solar energy can be absorbed to the fullest for the premiere parts of the day.


The orientation and shape of the solar homes are the deciding factors for the competency and productivity of the technology. Solar homes are provident investment which leads to generation of a substantial amount of energy.

Variable options are available for the solar homes. The solar homes built in the correct orientation and shapes provide a major edge over other solar technologies. Being an investment which need not be changed over time, solar homes construction should be perfected according to the local needs as well.

Solar homes are a better alternative to other forms of solar technology like solar roofing, solar windows or normal solar panels. With lower maintenance and one time investment cost, solar homes provide major benefits which can be availed with proper architecture.