The Prime Directive

The Prime Directive for Solar Heating: It MUST Be An Upgrade

Always design and install solar heating equipment that is at least as reliable and trouble-free as the conventional system it replaces.  Whenever possible, provide performance, longevity and controls that surpass the conventional alternatives.  Solar heating must be an upgrade.

To meet the prime directive, try following the Six Principles for Solar/Hydronic Design listed below (roughly in order of their importance).

  • RELIABLE: it must be at least as reliable and trouble-free as a conventional heating system
  • EFFECTIVE: it should effectively address the heating goals of the end-user
  • COMPATIBLE: it should be compatible with the rest of the building industry, not requiring special modifications to standard industry practices
  • ELEGANT: Albert Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Fewer parts doing the same job is preferable. A mechanical room that is a mystery to everyone but the original installer is not elegant.
  • SERVICEABLE: it’s a mechanical system; service and maintenance will be required. When it is required, it should be easy and inexpensive.
  • EFFICIENT: when all other principles have been addressed, the system should be designed and installed to be as efficient as possible. Efficiency is determined by the end-user.

The success of any solar hydronic home heating installation depends on the often- conflicting balance between any of these six principles. Finding the balance between them defines the art of solar heating design.