Glass-Roofed House-Practical Solar Heat?

I have a roofedporch, which has clear plastic panels for the roof. It is amazing-on clear winter days, the room is a comfortable 75 F, while the outside temp. is in the 20’s. Qould this concept work for the roof of a house? Seems to me that if the heat could be stored somehow (say in a water tank) you might be able to heat your house in winter with a clear roof only. Has any architect built a house with a glass roof?

I’ve seen demos of such things here in the UK at the Centre for Alternative Technology (link)

They use old flat panel radiators painted black, within a clear plexiglass box. Hook up the radiators to a storage tank and pump arrangement then attach the whole thing to your most sunward facing roof. It seemed very effective.

Don’t know about a whole roof, I would think cooling would need to be addressed in the summer (outside shade from deciduous trees or inside blinds and such).

However, there is a house in my town which was built to maximize natural resourses. Amoung these innovations is something along the lines of your Idea; They have many southern windows (with deciduous trees for summer shade) and a large stone slab in the floor to absorb the heat in the main room (which is vaulted and open to the second floor).

I have never seen their gas bill but I’ll bet it’s less than mine.

And the more I think of it, didn’t a Mr. Wright design something similar about a century ago?

Did I just spell ‘among’ as ‘amoung’? sheeesh!

I would think you’d be better off going with a passive solar system including some kind of heat sink so that you could store some of that heat for night and cloudy days. My parents have such a house including a solid concrete wall covered in black metallic paint, a 6 inch air space and then a sheet of glass. The air space is vented into the house and an overhang ensures that the higher sun in the summer doesn’t heat the wall while the lower sun in the winter does. They also have dark tile floors which are directly over the concrete foundation to hold heat.

Ralph, you should also consider problems with condensate causing various problems. Air always has some amount of humidity. With lower temps, condensate will collect in your insulation, attic structures, etc. You need to consider how you will prevent creating a nice environment for mold, bacteria, dry rot, maybe even termites, etc… Everything has draw-backs, so think it through by considering every aspect of such an endeavor.

And remember, people who live in glass houses… :wink:

  • Jinx

Sure, it’s the more common way of using solar power. Electric solar panels are expensive and tricky to hook up properly, but for pre-heating water for your water heater, all you need are some pipes and some black paint.

Here’s a [/url=]diagram of one for heating a pool.

A glass roof is problematic due to lack of light control, protection from damage and re-radiation at night increasing heat loss. A common approach used on many solar design houses is to surround the house (well, at least the south and west sides) with enclosed porch “greenhouses”. Large heat sinks (masonry walls, water tanks, etc.) are used to store the heat.

There was a concept that had a double glass outside wall with a system to pump insulating material into the wall at night and out during sunny days. It worked but was godawful ugly.