Live in a Solar Greenhouse


38 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88954-237-6





Reviewed by Thomas E. Towle

Thomas E. Towle was a freelance writer living in Shawville, Quebec.


Nik Wistinghausen has a strong background in solar construction concepts, being both an industrial designer and the founder of a solar greenhouse consulting agency in southwestern Ontario. In his book he mixes technical expertise with an informal approach, which will allow the ordinary reader to understand the gist of his theories without the need of a glossary of technological words.

The title of the book describes the contents very aptly: Wistinghausen proposes the ideal solar home and then in the following chapters proceeds to lay out plans for it in simple layman’s language. Although fans are used, the building concept is basically a “passive solar” design and, as the author stresses, a low-cost, maintenance-free one. In a somewhat radical approach to space-saving techniques (devices such as fold-away furniture and the lack of a basement in the plan), he cites our culture’s tendency toward smaller families and the subsequent need for a more compact dwelling; this helps the home builder because the minimum square-footage built means cheaper construction costs and less space to heat and cool. The many drawings are clear and help to clarify his ideas.

Live in a Solar Greenhouse is filled with practical hints for anyone interested in building a passive solar home; it isn’t hard to see that the author is an avid enthusiast of solar energy but at times the enthusiasm takes on the tone of a sales-pitch; it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him using the booklet as a pamphlet to entice home builders to buy his design, or at the very least to incorporate his ideas into their dwellings on a consultation basis. The homey episodes with “Uncle Bob, the Snow Storm, and the Hot Tub,” are best left to apple pie commercials.

There are a few printing errors and the paper is a poor grade, but the book is interesting reading.


Wistinghausen, Nik, “Live in a Solar Greenhouse,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,