SSH101: Your Solar Home!

An Introduction to Heating, Cooling and Powering Your Home with the Sun.

This course shows how to heat, cool and power your house with sunlight. It also explores heating water and cooking food with the Sun. The course has seven modules with a total of thirty lessons and hundreds of illustrations. Short video clips introduce the basic concepts, followed by more detailed explanations.

There are hands-on projects to build and experiment with, and several solar history examples. At the end of each unit is a short review quiz. Graduates receive a certificate of completion.


Module 1: The Earth and the Sun
Module One explains why the sun’s position in the sky changes. We’ll see how these changes cause winter and summer, and use this knowledge to get the most solar energy all year long.


Module 2: Understanding Heat
In Module Two we explore how we can use sunlight to heat water, cook food, and to keep buildings comfortable all year long. To do this, we first need to know what heat is, and how it flows from one object to another.


Module 3: Solar Ovens
Module Three presents ways to cook food with sunlight. Using just a few simple tools, like an insulated box, reflectors and a pane of glass, we can make an oven that can be powered with just solar energy.


Module 4: Solar Hot Water
Module Four shows how the Sun’s energy is a cost-effective source for heating water. Solar hot water can be used for washing and bathing, to heat swimming pools or spas, and even to heat the home.


Module 5: Passive Solar Design
Most homes burn fossil fuels to stay warm in the winter and keep air conditioners running in the summer. Passive solar home design uses many of the ideas we’ve just studied to keep buildings comfortable all year long with little fuel besides sunlight.


Module 6: Solar Electricity
Module Six explores how solar electric panels work. We’ll look at the atomic structure of the silicon cells that make up solar panels, and see how photons of light knock electrons free to make an electric current.


Module 7: System Sizing
Module Seven explores system sizing, the process of finding out how much electricity you use, and then determining how big a photovoltaic system you’ll need to supply that electricity with sunlight.