In the northern hemisphere, houses are aligned so that windows face the south. In the southern hemisphere, houses are aligned with windows to the north.

So, for example, we have this building advice:

Based on the movements of the sun, passive solar buildings typically have windows (glazing) on the southern facing side* of the building in order to absorb the sun’s heat energy to warm a building during the winter.

but then this has to be followed by this

In the northern hemisphere, in order to face the sun and obtain maximum solar gain, the windows would face the south. In the southern hemisphere, however, it is opposite, with the windows facing the north in order to maximize solar gain.


Is there a word that refers to this direction without the need to specify which hemisphere you are referencing?

  • Although insolate is good, it's not a word that many people are familiar with. I wonder whether "facing the equator" might work. Mar 6, 2016 at 21:17
  • I think you're not giving your target market/audience credit due. The embedded 'sol', along with the common prefix 'in-' and suffix '-ate' are likely to be enough when considered along with the context, and they'll have the satisfaction of figuring out what the word means and having it confirmed. Additionally, such specialized terms as "passive solar" are likely to be at least as unfamiliar as 'insolated', plus more disturbing (what is 'active solar'?). Your suggestion of 'equator' is good though; 'equatorward' (one word) is in use and likely immediately familiar to most English speakers.
    – JEL
    Mar 8, 2016 at 3:59
  • So since insolation is a measurement of solar energy, and equatorward is a direction, the latter is better? Mar 8, 2016 at 19:40
  • I find 'equatorward' awkward, on reflection (no pun intended). 'Facing the equator' (your original suggestion) now seems better to me, although by preference I would use 'insolated side'.
    – JEL
    Mar 8, 2016 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


the sun is never stationary and moves from east to west. But the direction from which the sun's main rays come at any given time is sunward


toward or facing the sun.


facing the sun

  • This is good for the orientation of the windows (e.g. sunward windows), but the OP is looking for an adjective for the direction in which the sun's main rays come from. It's a bit off to say: "The windows are oriented towards the sunward direction.". Moreover, a better adjective for the windows is sun-facing, since there are south-facing and north-facing windows, but not southward/northward windows. A search in Google will confirm that.
    – Færd
    Mar 5, 2016 at 3:33
  • 1
    Sunward doesn't work since that could mean anything from where the sun rises to where it sets. Mar 5, 2016 at 3:49
  • 1
    Sun-ward does work here as he is orienting generally. He's not aiming a gun or burning ants. Sun-ward would play in both hemispheres.
    – user116032
    Mar 5, 2016 at 18:48

A word you could use may be 'insolated', an adjective derived from the verb 'insolate':

insolate, v.
trans. To place in the sun; to expose to the rays of the sun.
insolated, adj. exposed to the sun's rays.

["insolate, v.". OED Online. December 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/96907?redirectedFrom=insolated (accessed March 05, 2016).]

Your example sentence, edited to suit 'insolated':

Based on the movements of the sun, passive solar buildings typically have windows (glazing) on the insolated side of the building in order to absorb the sun’s heat energy to warm a building during the winter.

Using 'insolated', your follow-up starting with "In the northern hemisphere" has been obviated. The first sentence, as shown above, says it all.

If you think the sentence using 'insolated' might result in fussy questions from its intended audience, for example,

Aren't all sides of the house insolated?

you could add a qualifier. For example, "the maximally insolated side" might be best for your audience, or perhaps "the most frequently insolated side" would be better.

The verb 'insolate' and its various derived forms (examples include 'insolated', 'insolation', etc.) are in common use by those involved with the passive solar market.


elevation http://www.photopills.com/articles/understanding-azimuth-and-elevation Do not confuse with azimuth.

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