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Old 09-27-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
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Most energy efficient directional orientation for 5thWheel: north-south or east-west?

I hope to have at least partial shade (perhaps 20' of my 36' fifth-wheel length) on the north side of a pole building...but wonder in general about north-south versus east-west orientation for energy advantages in east Texas (about 130 miles in from the TX coast.) One dealer said to use east-west in the winter for heat gain and north-south in summer.

I do hope to add my own shade in various ways but just wondering what experienced RVers have to say. I plan to live year-round on this rural property and would prefer to not to move around the fifth-wheel seasonally.

Thanks for any ideas---and any Texas year-around RV living advice in general.
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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You get the most the from the south - solar panels are typically oriented to the south for best energy generation.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:49 PM   #3
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Clarification on my Question: energy conservation

Thank you for your reply. However, at this point my concerns are energy CONSERVATION rather than GENERATION. (I don't have any solar panels and probably won't add any because I will be on-grid.)
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Old 09-28-2013, 07:26 PM   #4
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Thank you for your reply. However, at this point my concerns are energy CONSERVATION rather than GENERATION. (I don't have any solar panels and probably won't add any because I will be on-grid.)
My point is not about solar power generation. Rather about heat gain from the sun orientation.
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Old 09-28-2013, 07:34 PM   #5
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East west maximizes sun exposure for winter. North south minimizes sun exposure for the summer. Not really much different I would suspect in heat costs and the winters are really minimum with very little when real cold. I would go north south and relax and enjoy.
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Old 09-28-2013, 07:48 PM   #6
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East west maximizes sun exposure for winter. North south minimizes sun exposure for the summer. Not really much different I would suspect in heat costs and the winters are really minimum with very little when real cold. I would go north south and relax and enjoy.
I'm hoping to get enough shade in summer (and wind-break in winter) from parking on the north side of an east-west aligned 25' pole building to give me an east-west payoff. But if I move my site on into the wooded grove just north of that building, I might do better for sure with the north-south orientation you mentioned. I'm really torn.

Perhaps I'm also influenced by my years living in the Midwest where RVs and trailers were so vulnerable in summer wind storms and tornadoes. The idea of a permanent structure (a metal pole building) providing a south side windbreak seems very appealing to me. (I may park/align on the north side of the building close enough to get the shade and protection while still being able to open the entrance door to enter my fifth-wheel. I thought it may also provide means of anchoring/protecting solar tarp or screening.

Any and all ideas/opinions are appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 09-28-2013, 08:24 PM   #7
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Summer you want shade on the south and west. Winter sun will help heat the south and west .

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Old 09-28-2013, 10:07 PM   #8
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My point is not about solar power generation. Rather about heat gain from the sun orientation.
Sorry, I'm confused. In your previous post you wrote: "solar panels are typically oriented to the south for best energy generation." Solar panels and passive solar have very different orientation requirements. But thank you for your assistance and comments. :-)
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:10 AM   #9
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Here in the great white north I build my home with all windows facing south as possible and receive the sun heat in the winter. Planted leaf trees that are fully grown that shades the large windows in summer and let the sun shine in winter. In the north side I build a windowed sun deck that has exposure to all four sides and not heated. Water never freezes in side so keeps north side warm in the deep winter. Example of the perfect orientation. At least for us in the north with low sun in winter.
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:39 AM   #10
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Sorry, I'm confused. In your previous post you wrote: "solar panels are typically oriented to the south for best energy generation." Solar panels and passive solar have very different orientation requirements. But thank you for your assistance and comments. :-)
Apologies for providing input that confuses you...
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:32 AM   #11
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I always point my MH windshield to the East.

Summer, with the sun high in the sky the roof gets most of the exposure and there is no broad side pointing to the sun at any time during the day, and late afternoon the sun is on the back end. Sun Screen on the outside of the windshield helps prevent too much heat gain in the summer.

Winter, with the sun low in the sky, I get sun through the windshield to warm up the place (we don't run the furnace at night, just to warm up in the morning) and get broadside sun during the day to help keep it warm. If I don't need the heat, I just lower the awning.

And I also have my solar panels tilted to the passenger side in the winter for the southern exposure.

I boondock a lot, so orientation can be a choice most of the time.

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Old 09-29-2013, 03:39 PM   #12
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>Winter, with the sun low in the sky, I get sun through the windshield to warm up the place....
>

Thanks for the thorough and helpful description of your situation. Come to think of it, your high-summer-sun/low-winter-sun strategy was described by one of the ancient Greek authors who wrote about home construction in similar terms. (I no longer remember the name of the classical author but your comments awoke some long neglected neurons.)
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Old 09-29-2013, 03:57 PM   #13
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>I boondock a lot, so orientation can be a choice most of the time.

What is your opinion on tree shade? Some tell me to take advantage of deciduous tree shade and others tell me that the falling limbs, tree sap, and additional insects aren't worth the risks and the ongoing damage. What do you think about the trade-offs?
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Old 09-30-2013, 01:32 PM   #14
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>

What is your opinion on tree shade? Some tell me to take advantage of deciduous tree shade and others tell me that the falling limbs, tree sap, and additional insects aren't worth the risks and the ongoing damage. What do you think about the trade-offs?
If you are sitting up on a semi permanent basis, things are different.

For short term stays I try to avoid direct shade because of my solar, and, I like the wide open feeling. So, if I'm facing the East and it is warm, then a little shade on the SW corner of the rig would be good.

I took a 200 mile day trip drive through the mountains and hills SW of Flagstaff yesterday. Saw some great places to boondock South of Williams on the northern edge of meadows, right at the tree line. Lots of rigs were in amongst the trees. I would rather be more in the open and @7,000 feet, could use the warmth of the sun.

Some people like the shade, I like the sun. High mountains for summer, low deserts for the winter! It's like I told my sister when I was full timing, "If I need the A/C or furnace, I must have made a wrong turn somewhere!"

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