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Thread: Shop Orientation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    Shop Orientation

    Nearby there are two tire stores. The buildings are similar, with several big doors which are left open whenever the weather is not ridiculous. One faces east, the other west. The west facing store gets wind, rain, dust and lots of afternoon sunlight (just the thing in a heat wave). Not sure what architects are taught but orientation may not get enough encouragement.

    We rarely get any chance to consider shop orientation but if we do, it can make a big difference.

    Now I'm going to go sit in my east facing garage and watch the rain.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Tampa Bay, FL
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    3,748
    Depends where you live, Tom. At my workshop, we get winds/weather from North, South, East, and West. Truly all four. But I think your point is well taken.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Kansas City
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    2,560
    Snow and ice issues favor West or South driveway orientation around here.
    Hobbyist

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Heat and AC are a nice thing to have.

    But seriously, I do agree that whenever a building of any kind can be oriented such that the path of the sun, on-site shading and local weather patterns can be considered, it's a good thing. It's going to impact more than just doors and windows, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    Snow and ice issues favor West or South driveway orientation around here.
    Just the opposite here...North facing is optimal for openings, door and windows.
    Eastern exposure next.
    South and West are brutal in summer...aaaaand, folks, we are on track (come 29 July) for 30 consecutive days of daytime temps above 110F.
    (And people wonder why AZ refuses to honor "Daylight Savings Time" )
    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    SoCal
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    My shop was oriented to preset the long face of the roof to the south in case solar was added. The math didn't pan out so it is moot. I do agree that we rarely embrace mother nature when deciding where to put / aim stuff.
    "A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg".


    Samuel Butler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Mid West and North East USA
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    I built a shop for Nick Kukich and Mike Dulak. Our orientation was pre determined by the lot. Nick and the architect collaborated a good deal about windows and their locations. lots of big windows on the north with light colored surfaces outside were important. The reflected sunlight creates a lovely work environment. Mike was insistent on a porch that faced both south and west. It is a neat building and has been turned into an air B&B. The Clarke Street lodge in Rocheport MO.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    9,392
    Drive through any subdivision built in the last 40 years and look at the houses orientation. There is none just aligned to the street. Corner houses are the exact same plan as middle of the block ones. They sometimes orient things if there is a real view.
    For the new high school they probably spent over a million dollars on fancy welded sun shades over the upper windows. The waste was 1/4 of the windows faced north.
    Bill D

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    8,598
    Here, ends SW and NE with big doors on both ends. Prevailing wind is mainly from the SW. When it's blowing 30, it's shop cleaning day. Open doors on both ends, and between a leaf blower and a 4' compressed air wand, the shop is quickly almost as clean as new.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
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    5,466
    In 2006-7 my 1600 sq/ft shop was oriented with a 60' gable roof running pretty much East and West. For light in the daytime there are six skylights along the North side of the roof, which pretty much allow a lot of light inside, but no direct sunlight for heat gain.

    The South side of the roof is blank, and Solar panels were added about 15 years after the build. There are large windows facing South, but an 8'wide porch the full length shades them all year, so no direct sunlight there either.

    A 30? Amp 220V electric heater does the job in our mild winters, and a large window 220V air conditioner was built into the North wall where it can be replaced as needed. Still on the original one.

    Since the solar panels were installed on the South facing shop roof a few years ago, in addition to those on the house (62 in all), I decided this year to run the shop AC 24/7 at 77 degrees all summer, and drop it to 75 degrees with a couple fans to keep it moving when occupied.

    I am testing this way to see if I can do that without running up an electric bill higher than our solar output. We also now have 2 1/2 electric cars here this year, which is also an electric use increase from the three half electrics (plug in hybrids) we had in the past. If we get much of an electric bill, we will simply quit cooling the shop when it is not being used.

    There is a 3 HP Oneida dust collector that vents outside. I have notice no problem with the shop losing cool when the DC is on, but that is maybe a total of only 5% of the time I am actually in there. I do lots of things other than cutting wood.

    I would say that orientation was a very important part of planning the shop, along with tree placements. The shop is also insulated like a house with 5/8" drywall throughout, and double pane low E windows. The dogs have noticed the difference and go into the shop whenever I am there.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Rick, today's highly efficient mini split systems would likely use less electricity than the resistance heat and window AC do if you have concerns about consumption from your solar. Obviously, there's an initial cost outlay to switch but if the impetus is to work better with the electric service you have, it could be worth consideration.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    My new shop will have a shed roof facing south and at the best pitch for solar panels at my latitude. Clearstory windows under the eaves on the north side for light and venting
    BilL D

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Piercefield, NY
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    My current shop is 16x32 with the long wall facing south having two 3x4' or so windows which we use in the spring to start seedlings. The door is on the north side and there is also a small window there. Someday I hope to build a house and workshop on a bigger piece of ground where I would have room for a 24x28 or so workshop with a loft for doing clean work and for storage and packing boxes. I think ideally I would want more south windows with a suitable overhang for passive solar heating. The house I grew up in was designed that way and was very comfortable and efficient, in a similar climate in Maine.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    N CA
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    They say that an artists light is from the north. Not particularly artistic I cannot say. My decision on my shop build was for max solar gain. Fortunately it made sense for the lay-out of the shop from the existing driveway. The thing is build it to suit your lot, but build it to pay for itself if you possibly can. I cannot think of anything that can do this other than a good solar system. My 30x34 shop with an 8/12 pitch accommodated a 7.5 kWh solar install. The pro companies quoted me $30-31k for a 5.5-6kwh system. I bought direct and put in the 7.5 kWh system all in permits etc for $15.5k. The house and shop ran at zero $ for the three yrs we were there. The new owners are loving it. You can do this with a bit of care on the building orientation. Anyone on this site is mechanical and competent to do the install of thes things. It is not ROCKET SCIENCE. I had an electrician come in to terminate the panel connections, otherwise, me and when necessary a couple friends.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Marina del Rey, Ca
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    My new shop's windows and 10' high overhead door face south, which provide plenty of daylight. And there is a breeze normally from the southwest. This is actually ideal, though the hottest days require that I run a large exhaust fan for comfort.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

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