The Energy Showcase

A Pioneering Solar House

Solar Energy Supply


The appearance of the house’s south solar roof is partly inspired by that of a 1981 solar house in Boston, USA, as depicted on the front cover of this book by Steven Strong. The multiple large panes collect solar energy in two different forms as electricity and as domestic hot water.

The principal heating system of the house is passive solar. The Canadian krypton-filled, low-e triple-glazed windows on its south wall gain more heat than they lose, even in a typical southern English winter. Similar windows have been in production in Canada for over 20 years. A relatively light-coloured patio to the south of the house acts as a reflector and increases winter solar gains.

The house’s three distinct solar energy systems; i.e., electricity, DHW and passive solar, are all relatively integrated into the building structure; i.e., built in rather than bolted on. This improves aesthetics and helps to make high-performance buildings more economical to construct.


One of the krypton-filled, double
low-e, triple-glazed windows.

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East end of the solar roof
soon after installation,
before the gutters and
downpipes were in place.



The solar water heating system under construction is passive, meaning that there are no moving parts or controls to fail. A normal active solar water heating system has a pump and controls which transfer energy from the roof to a storage tank when the sun is shining.

The four panes of glass at the east and west ends of the roof are solar photovoltaic (PV); i.e., they generate electricity from incoming solar radiation. Custom-made in Hamburg, Germany, the 1170 x 2850 mm panels contain an array of single-crystal solar cells, laminated between two panes of heat-strengthened glass.

The single-glazed lean-to glasshouse attached to the south of the house will play a role in preheating the ventilation air. Based on experience at a similar house in Worcestershire, the glasshouse may also be able to provide some heat to the house during exceptionally cold, clear weather.

Digital StillCamera

View of house south wall, showing the lean-to glasshouse.