This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan Storm 5 years, 1 month ago.

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    I don’t know if anyone else has experience with this personally, but I’m interested in adding a Trombe wall (masonry covered on the exterior with glass) to capture the sun’s heat on a southern wall during the day and then diffuse it at night.

    But I’m trying to decide if the costs are worth it in our home. . . or how to prioritize this with other options.

    We already have a veranda which will heat the house during the day if it’s sunny–even on a cold day. But we close that at night. We are already planning on enlarging a window opening (also on the south side of the house). This, again, on a sunny day will provide heat during the daytime, but nothing at night.

    We have a wood stove as backup and in fall/spring we tend to do one fire either at night or early AM. In the winter we typically need to burn in the evening and the AM since the days are shorter and the nights are colder. –And obviously we heat when the wheather is cloudy.

    So, basically, I’m looking for a night-time solution to cut back on fuel use even further. We’ve also considered adding more insulation to the outside northern wall. It would be fantastic to go for the ‘all of the above’ approach but funds are an issue and maybe just one of the options would actually be enough.



    Hi there just wanted to drop my 2 cents worth of experience. Depending upon where you live and what zone you are in a
    trombe wall may work. I live in central Alberta 52 Deg North and from November to March solar heating is not even in the equation. Mass is a fantastic thing it absorbs heat and then slowly releases it. How you heat the mass is the determining factor. Here a Rocket Mass heater works great costs almost nothing if you have land with wood, clay and rock and some pipe free or recycled odds and ends. Try or google Rocket mass heater, lots of U-tube videos. you may have people local to you that have worked with/or have rocket stoves.



    Thanks Ron, that idea could work if we add on to the house, actually. We don’t really want to replace the existing wood stove in the living room, as it’s quite nice, but a rocket stove and the thermal mass that can go with it would be a good complement when we add on to the house–especially because it sounds like it can be made inexpensively. I worry about insurance issues, but there is probably a way to overcome that if I look around locally.

    Since I’ve heard they can run on twigs small wood scraps that folks around here throw in their burn piles, I think the cost of running it would be very inexpensive as well!




    I am a little familiar with Trombe walls but only from reading. The thermal mass does not have to be masonry (you could use water jackets or barrels for instance), but the glass in front of the mass was at least originally, I believe, exclusive to the system, close to the mass, and did not lend itself to use as a view space. The wall was fitted with two holes (need for number of sets determined by wall length and house layout restrictions and needs). There was a lower and larger opening and the other smaller and higher to promote a pressure differential to accommodate thermal siphoning. The benefit of thermal mass does not have to be in such a expensive form but does have to be insulated from heat robbing floors or walls. For instance a thick pony wall or bench of cob would heat up from sunlight through a south facing window that allowed full exposure of the sun over the wall during the day. Water jackets of steel or glass could be installed to avoid permanent installation issues for a more elegant look. However, just a plastic black barrel could be tried to determine viability of a system (cover three sides for a more decorative look maybe). Another solution could be a small half green house attached to the home and filled with rubble or stone in an insulated basin which could be vented into the house (glass doors) during the winter and outside (windows) in the summer. However, you would want to consider the need to insulate the glass at night, and insulate the walls and ceiling. Plan an overhang to limit summer sun or grow a deciduous tree in front of the structure. You could even install a rocket stove in this unit. Hope my brainstorming wasn’t too boring. I see you really put a lot of thought into your designing.


    Nathan Storm

    I enjoyed this Dan Chiras youtube “free Heat for life”
    The video includes the good and the bad and the integration of trombe walls

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