Why buy or rent a villa with a south facing pool?
In this blog entry I’m going to try and explain why a villa with south facing pool is essential when you are creating your shortlist for a villa purchase or vacation rental in the Orlando Florida vacation regions, or any northern hemisphere accommodation (reverse the logic for a southern hemisphere property). Here’s a Dave-special diagram:
Simple diagram explaining the length of a shadow case by the sun in Florida
As sure as the day is long, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, but depending on how far north and south of the equator you are (known as latitude), will add a north/south dimension to the angle of the sun’s light, and therefore a length, to the shadow a building casts.
If we take the simple example above of the midday sun to remove any east-west shadow angle, the diagram above explains why latitude adds an angle to the sun and subsequently a shadow at midday when the sun is directly overhead on the equator. This is the exact reason you need to rent a villa with a south facing pool.
Our villa shadow profile in December
The further north you travel, the longer this shadow is.
Do you want your pool to be in the grey shadow the building and the sun create at midday? No! To find out exactly what the shadow looks like in Florida, I put in the latitude and longitude of Dave’s Florida Villa into the coordinates on a shadow plotting site, then selected the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. December 21st. The results are in the time-lapse picture view to the left.
I then put in the rough dimension of our single-storey hip-roofed villa, because the height of the building increases the length of the shadow. A two-storey building will cast a much bigger shadow than a single-storey villa.
It’s very clear to see why you want your pool to be in the area not affected by the shadow throughout the entire day.
A pool on the north-east of a building gets lots of sun in the morning. One on the north-west would get the evening sun. However one facing south gets a lot more sun than both.
It’s not just the fact you can sit in the sun all day by the pool, the south facing lanai remains dry all year, so less mould exists naturally, and the water dries quickly, so generally it’s a much nicer and warmer place to be than on the north side of the building.
You can see that by looking at any of the buildings in Florida – the north side of the villas are always a little greener and dirtier than the south facing aspects. Have a look on Google Street View and take a look for yourself on Tuscan Ridge. We rejected many houses in Florida because the pool deck was so dark and dirty because it was north facing.
Extreme survivalists use this technique when navigating in the wilderness, just not on buildings but on the vegetation! Not really much need for this in Tuscan Ridge!
Many thanks to the website Find My Shadow which allowed me to use the efforts of someone else to help explain what our villa shadow profile looks like in the winter months.
But where’s the proof? To put all this theory into action I downloaded our villa aerial view from Google Maps and guesstimated when it was taken. See the image below.
This aerial photo was probably taken in the winter, early afternoon, I guess at around 1pm. The pool is still completely bathed in sunlight after being exposed all morning. Our south facing pool will remain mostly in the sun until around 4pm. Even during the shortest day of the year!
Google maps satellite view of Dave’s Florida Villa – with the south facing pool
In September we have sun easily past 4pm, but at 4pm you can tell that the shadow in September is much shorter than in December, so more of our lanai is exposed to the sun. Great for evening dining and relaxing.
The last example I have is when the building has a gable-ended roof. This roof design results in a much higher roof but one that is structurally weaker to hurricane force winds.
Hip roof (left) and a Gable roof diagram
The only benefit is more storage space which we don’t care about in Florida when we want the most sun available.
Gable end roof and the resulting shadow in December
This shadow plot is also in December, so compare it to the first of our diagrams and you can very easily see just how much longer the shadow is cast with a gable roof.
Click to open full size.
In conclusion, a vacationer or house buyer should always consider the benefits of a south facing pool or garden. How much sun do you want to get? Also factor in the height of the building, roof design, and latitude, which all impact the size of area of shadow cast by the sun.
If you have a choice you should always without exception get the south facing pool. South east for the morning sun, and south west for evening sun. Exactly the same when buying houses with gardens in the UK.