Passive solar home interior (C) Daniel Friedman, Denise AughtmanThermal Mass Wall Finishes for Absorbing & Storing Solar Heat

  • THERMAL MASS WALL DESIGN - CONTENTS: Design details for a thermal mass heat storage wall for passive solar energy systems. Passive solar design details for thermal mass walls and thermal mass wall finishes or coatings. Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to choose a final coating or finish material, color, etc. for thermal mass walls and passive solar energy systems

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This article discusses the design details, color, coating of a mass wall intended to absorb and store solar heat for a passive solar energy home. Accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.

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Coating, Color, Design for Thermal Mass Wall for Passive Solar Design

The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Topic: Use of Drywall over Masonry Block Thermal Mass Wall


In a passive solar home I am building, the entire first floor is enclosed by vermiculite-filled, 10-inch concrete block externally insulated by 2-inch thick polystyrene insulating board. I am inquiring about the efficiency of covering the interior surface of the masonry block thermal mass wall with drywall that would be attached directly to the block by adhesive.

Will solar-gain heat be absorbed by the drywall and thereby conducted to and stored in the underlying masonry wall? -- David Kallett, Pompton Lakes NJ


If the thermal mass walls are intended to absorb and store solar heat, the wall surface should have high absorptance (a dark color) and conductivity that equals or exceeds that of the storage materials themselves (the concrete block) so that heat will flow into the thermal storage wall at least as fast as if the wall were left uncovered.

You mention that most of the walls will not receive direct sunshine (see our photo at page top), but will absorb heat from the room air. In this case the color of the surface [of walls not receiving direct sunlight] has little importance in the heat gain and storage of the mass wall.

Plaster on the block wall would be your best bet, since its internal properties are about the same as concrete block, and it would bond tightly and continuously to the block.

Gypsum board is almost as conductive as concrete block (k = 4.4 vs. 5.0 for concrete block). [See THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS]. More important, however, is the bonding of the gypsum board or drywall to the block wall. Gluing in the typical fashion (beads of glue applied with a caulking gun) will leave air spaces that will impede the heat flow from the drywall into the block wall.

So if you can't plaster the block wall, how about just painting it?

By the way, directly irradiated mass is several times more effective than convectively coupled mass - or in simple terms, a thermal mass block wall that receives direct sunlight is several times more effective than thermal mass walls that do not.

Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.

The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below has been preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article.

Our page top photo shows the interior wall of a low-cost passive solar home discussed at this website.

Readers should also see the passive solar design articles organized at SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS.

Thermal Properties & Thermal Mass Articles


Continue reading at FLOOR COVERING for OVER THERMAL MASS SLABS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see THERMAL MASS in HOMES - STUDY - log wall home thermal mass effects

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