Friday, June 25, 2010

The Attached Solar Greenhouse

I have recently been covering the house 
that Rob Stout has designed and built.

 The complete set of posts are:
 An Active Solar System,
Woodworking By Rob Stout,
and his work was included in Door Handles And Latches.

Now I want to show the two very nice attached greenhouses,
 one on either side of the front door.

This photo shows the two in relationship to each other.
The glazing is a four walled polycarbonate sheeting 7/8" thick.
It will bend to the curve without any special bending technique. 
Also make note of the vent windows at the bottom.

The inside of the greenhouse is an inviting, warm,
 and green space at any time of the year. 
When these photos were taken on June 12th Rob
 and his wife Judy had been harvesting tomatoes
 through the winter and there were green figs 
on one tree and much more.

The house side of the greenhouse creates a nice space also.
 This side makes for a work space and what a view in the winter.
Both the door and windows can be opened or closed at the occupants discretion.

The other side is a nice place for plants.
 Before the greenhouse was added the windows
 here alone provided excellent passive solar heating.
 The low winter sun would shine in on the masonry floor
 and wall heating them up during the day so they could release
 that heat at night. This is an exceptional and efficient solar home.


  1. Hi Ches! We're back home after meeting you at the NM campsite last week. My wife and I were in the Scamp trailer. I'm checking out your blogsite and find it extremely interesting. Just finished reading the one from Friday, June 25, 2010 - The Attached Solar Greenhouse. I want to one day have a house that maximizes solar heat gain, and I've wondered which is more efficient - south facing windows that let in sun which heats thermal mass items like tile floors, or the greenhouses like this article shows. Seems like windows and thermal mass would be best for heating, and greenhouse would be best if you want to grow things. The greenhouse would also probably minimize heat loss from the living space at night. What is your experience with this?

  2. Hi Sonny, Hope you had a good trip back. Your question is a good one and goes to the heart of the matter. If you go to the right sidebar for blog archive and click on the arrow (not the month or year itself) for 2010 and then the arrow for February you will see a post for Passive Solar. Towards the end of that post I talk about greenhouses. You can also click on the heading under Labels for Solar In New Mexico. The best greenhouse for heating is narrow (3' to no more than 5') so that the sun can shine directly on a masonry or mass wall between the greenhouse and the the house in the winter when the sun is low in the sky. And you want to be able to close the greenhouse off at night as it will cool down with either doors and/or windows. Some people may want a breakfast nook or a larger room, but for the most passive solar heat you want the greenhouse to be narrow. Also you want the plants to be succulents or cactus as you want to control the humidity. To grow food requires high humidity which may condense as it enters the cooler living area creating damp conditions leading to mold problems. The advantage solar greenhouses have over south facing windows is the mass wall for holding heat and the insulation the greenhouse provides at night. South facing windows will lose heat at night and you will want to close curtains as the sun sets. With the greenhouse you can leave the doors and windows closed during cold winter days and the warmed mass wall will still heat the house Read through the posts I have for Solar In New Mexico to see if there is more that may apply to your situation. I hope this helps. It is an important point. You may also notice the mention of trombe walls. They are collectors that work in a similar way and use mass to hold and distribute the heat.

  3. I almost forgot no glazing or skylights in the roof. The overheat in the summer and lose heat in the winter.

  4. anyone know how to reach rob stout??? signing anoymous due to lack of aol or such account

  5. You can reach Rob Stout at