Solar Air and Water Heating
Solar heating systems are a great way to utilize solar power in a cost-effective way. Doing so can
generate hot water, or even air, in any climate, using a free resource –sunshine! Home solar heating is a
relatively easy way to supplement your existing heating system, thus reducing your energy use. This can
lower your electric bills. In doing so, the investment cost can soon be returned and you will be well on
your way to a more energy smart and ecologically friendly household.
Solar Air Heating
A solar air heating system is an active system, as opposed to a passive one. Passive solar heating
systems depend on the southernmost windows to provide a degree of the heating load for the building, or
can also rely solely on the structural elements such as floors, walls and windows, to collect and distribute
solar energy to provide heat in the winter and avoid it in the summer. Active systems, on the other hand,
utilize solar panels, which collect solar energy and fans, which distribute the energy.
Solar air heaters draw upon the simple principal that warm air rises and cool air sinks. They are able to
collect the cooler air at the bottom of a room, circulate it through the air heater, and then blow the warmed
air back into the room. Solar air heaters are best utilized if they are installed where they are able to
either blow or diffuse warm air directly into a room –preferably one which is used regularly during the
Solar air heaters utilize solar collectors to heat the air that passes through the unit. Solar heating panels
can be mounted on the windows, walls, or the roof – so long as there is direct sunlight available. Also
available are smaller “window unit” type of solar air heaters, which can be installed under a window that
receives full sun and south facing. These smaller units are direct-transfer systems, so that heat is never
stored. Accordingly, these types of units will be most advantageous if one is looking to use an air heater
during times when sunlight is available to lower electric costs.
How much money using a solar air heater can save depends on your home’s overall energy efficiency,
and climate conditions. Naturally, these factors vary greatly from home to home and from place to place.
These variables make it difficult to say in any general terms how much can be saved. However, these
systems prove most beneficial in areas that experience long winters with low temperatures and sunny
skies. If your area does not fit these conditions, however, there’s still a beneficial way to take advantage
of solar heating.
Solar air heating systems can be designed to also serve as a water heater during the warmer months.
This of course will offset energy costs even more as well as speed up your return on investment costs.
To do this type of dual-purpose system, an air-to-water heat exchanger needs to be added to the system.
Some systems also require a certain degree of plumbing.
Solar Water Heating
Unlike other new and upcoming solar technologies available today, solar water heating has actually been
a quite well established and accepted system in most countries for many years. It is recommended to
have a qualified solar thermal heating systems contractor recommend and install a solar water heating
system due to the many factors that can determine the type of heating system and installation. Such
factors include: climate, local building code requirements, safety concerns, and the solar resource that
will be utilized.
In order for a solar water heater to work, a collector for the solar energy is usually positioned and
mounted on the roof for optimal sun exposure. The energy collected is then used to heat fluid (either
water or, in some systems, a separate loop which contains anti-freeze and corrosion inhibitor) flowing
through the system. Since solar water heating is usually a supplemental system, alternative energy
source is usually connected to the system to provide back-up support to ensure hot water is always
Calculating the cost and return on investment time frame for a solar water heating system will depend on
a number of factors, including:
• The cost of installation
• Purchase price of a solar water heating system
• Efficiency of the system
• Any appropriate government subsidy for purchase or installation of a system
• Any annual tax rebates or subsidy for using renewable energy
• Cost of electricity (per kWh)
• Average amount of power used (per month, per kWh)
• Annual maintenance cost
• Cost of maintenance of a conventional water heating system
Beyond traditional water heating, there are also systems available to provide pool solar heating. Plastic
pool covering systems are either solid sheets or floating disks, which act as solar collectors. Pool water is
circulated through the system and heated before being redistributed into the pool. Once the desired
temperature is attained, a diverter valve is used to cycle water without any further heating. As a general
rule of thumb, the space required to mount any pool solar collector panels that are necessary is 50% the
pool’s surface area.
For more information, visit http://www.getsolar4less.com/