Trombe walls are great. They’re silent and maintenance free. Once installed they use no energy besides the sun that heats them and they can give heat for a lifetime. What that means is they're free to run. So why don’t we all have Trombe walls in our house?
How it works
Trombe walls utilise the heaviness of mass to store heat. This mass referred to as “thermal mass” is coloured black on the surface where the sun hits it. The black absorbs the sun’s energy into the wall. A layer of glass keeps the Trombe wall’s heat from escaping outside and can work to create a warm air current.
a tiny Trombe Wall
Limited space and keeping the weight down were big factors when adding things to this Tiny House.
So, how do you make a wall heavy enough to act as thermal mass, but not add too much weight for travel?
Water! More specifically, custom built water-tank walls.
Easy to fill when parked and easy to empty when it’s time to travel.
Below is a slideshow showing the Trombe walls in the Solar Tiny House. I didn't show the top hatch in this drawing.
Fully insulating these trombe wall/water tanks, retains the heat until you’re ready to use it. When ready for some warmth, just open the insulated hatch on the top and voila! The warm surface radiates heat into the room!
Super charging the Trombe Wall
We could stop there, but let’s take it a step further.
The thing about having off-grid solar power is that on a sunny day your batteries can get fully charged before the sun goes down. Sometimes even before noon! So, where does the excess power go? Many times it's just wasted.
That's where load diverters come in. Once the batteries are topped up the load diverter redirects the excess power from charging the battery to another function. Like 12v heating elements in the Trombe wall. This would boost the temperature of our thermal mass, making the trombe wall an even better heater.
What do you think of Trombe walls? What would happen if everyone who's located in a cold climate added Trombe walls to their house?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.