A Trombe (TROM-bee) wall is a passive solar device consisting of a thick sun-facing masonry wall (thermal mass) to absorb the sun's energy, combined with an air space and insulated glass. It was developed in the 1950s by Felix Trombe.

While the sun is shining, optical energy travels through and is trapped beneath the glass and absorbed by the masonry wall. The energy stored in the wall is then released slowly to the interior of the building when the sun is no longer shining. Using the sun's stored energy to heat your home reduces your conventional energy consumption.

During the summertime when heating energy isn't needed, the sun is higher in the sky and usually a Trombe wall has an overhang on it. The sun hits that overhang and bounces back rather than being collected and dispersed by the masonry wall.

More from this category

Habitat for Humanity

Volunteers joining hands

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that provides simple, sturdy homes. Learn how energy efficiency is a key factor in building these homes.

learn more

Finding an energy-smart builder

New home under construction

An energy-smart builder will help you make the right choices for your family and lifestyle.

learn more

Aging in place

Adjustable height kitchen sink

Using universal design principals, your home can adapt to your changing lifestyle needs.

learn more

New home comfort issues

Graphic of heating and cooling circulating through a house

Our four-part series explores how to handle comfort issues in a new home.

learn more

Insulated concrete forms

Insulated concrete forms in the ground

An insulated concrete form (ICF) system eliminates the cold drafts typical of wood-frame construction.

learn more

Building an energy-smart house

Pete and Megan talking with homeowners

Hear from real homeowners and builders who made energy efficiency a priority.

learn more

 

Talk to your utilities

Utility worker with an electric meter

Before you break ground on a new house, give your utility companies a call. They can help you avoid unnecessary expenses and construction delays.

learn more

Structural insulated panels

Cross section of a structural insulated panel

Structural insulated panels, also called SIPs, foam-core panels or stress-skin panels, are significantly more airtight than stud walls.

learn more

Air quality and ventilation in new homes

Man showing ductwork to Pete and Megan

New, energy-efficient homes need new solutions to circulate and ventilate the air inside the home.

learn more