Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis details the construction of three solar heating projects for the benefit of the literate New Mexican builder reading at about the seventh grade reading level as established by the Rutgers Readability Test. The theory of solar heating is presented at intervals in the text for the alert. However, it is assumed that the reader will be a New Mexican, for whom solar heating is so entirely practical that theory can generally be displaced in favor of rules of thumb. No subtle trade-offs are needed in New Mexico. We have sun (insolation) when we need heat (cold periods). Our natural endowment satisfies theory. The text presents rules of thumb for constructing sensible apparatus for harnessing this natural endowment to provide a practical proportion of the heat needed to maintain a house at a comfortable temperature during the cold periods of the year.

In the first and second chapters, two alternative systems actually built by the writer are describe􀀔 in sufficient detail to permit the reader to construct them. The writer's basis for choice of the systems is described. The first system uses water as a transfer fluid, and the second uses air. The relative merits of air and water as transfer fluids are discussed. Costs of the alternatives are discussed and tabulated. Construction difficulties (of interest principally to the owner-builder) are discussed. At all turns, an effort is made to engage the interest of the builder-reader through the use of anecdote and non-threatening (non-academic) language. In the third chapter, an optimized air system requiring no outside power (fans) is described. The third chapter also enlarges the climatic scope of the thesis by including a northern New Mexico situation, which exhibits more climatic extremes in terms of temperature than the Albuquerque setting of the first two projects.

The last chapter of the thesis describes a project for a solar heated enclosure for growing cold-resistant vegetables (e.g., turnips) year-round in a northern New Mexico climate and for starting cold­susceptible vegetables of high market value (e.g., tomatoes) in the early spring. In the last chapter an effort is made to underline the implications of solar heating for regional and personal "self-sufficiency" in at least one area (loosely describable as "horticulture") other than house heating.

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert Carl Cohlmeyer

Second Committee Member

Keith Haggard

Third Committee Member

Edith Ann Cherry

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