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Solar Pool Heater or Solar Pool Covers

SolarPoolHeaterA solar pool heater is a cost-effective and environment friendly solution for keeping your swimming pool warm even during the coldest days of the year. Installing a water heater for your pool can considerably reduce your gas and electricity bills. Using solar energy will also reduce your operating costs. In fact, solar pool heating makes the use of solar power very cost effective in a lot of places around the world.
Installing a solar water heater for your swimming pool will increase your swimming season at the lowest cost possible.

A solar pool heater can be used for outside and even for covered pools

Most of the time, unglazed flat-plate solar collectors are used for heating swimming pools. Unglazed flat-plate collectors don’t need insulation and are easy to install. For better performances solar collectors should be pointed to the south.

Solar collectors are also used to cool water in hot countries. This is done by pushing the water through the collectors during the night when the ambient temperature is cooler. While circulating through the collector’s pipes, warm water will cool.

On almost every solar pool heater system you’ll find a solar collector, a filter, a pump and a flow control valve

The solar collector is the device in which the water circulates to become warm. The filter is attached to the input of the solar collector to remove small fragments from the water. The pump’s role is to push water all the way from the filter to the collector and finally to the pool. The flow-control valve can be either manual or automatic. Its purpose is to redirect the water from the pool to the solar collector.
Solar collectors are easy to install; they can be placed on the roof or on the ground.

The choice of solar collectors used for solar pool heater is usually dictated by the type of weather where you live. In general unglazed solar collectors made of rubber or plastic are the most employed. They are by far less expensive than glazed solar collectors and are very efficient for this kind of application.

A properly installed and maintained solar pool heating system requires minimum maintenance and will operate efficiently from 15 to 20 years. This is made possible by the kind of material used to manufacture solar collectors. Read more

Solar pool covers offer another interesting way for heating your swimming pool

Another item to consider for your swimming pool is a solar pool cover, also called solar blanket.

They can be an addition to your already existing solar pool heating system or can operate as a stand alone system. Covering a pool when not in use is a very efficient way to keep the water warm and make your swimming season a little longer.
A solar cover will also reduce your utility and maintenance bills if you are using gas to heat your swimming pool.

Solar blanket as they are also known can be positioned manually or by using a swimming pool reel system that will allow easy deploying and retracting of the solar cover. Opening and rolling-up the pool cover can be easily done by only one person.

The choice of solar cover for swimming pool will depend mostly on the budget you are willing to spend. Solar pool covers are available for aboveground and inground swimming pools. Pool covers are usually made of polyethylene or vinyl. Both materials are UV treated enabling them to resist deterioration over time.

  • Vinyl solar covers have a longer lifespan.
  • Polyethylene solar blankets look very similar to the bubble packing material used to wrap fragile objects but they are thicker.

The function of a solar cover is to allow the utmost amount of sun’s ray to enter to the maximum depth of your swimming pool

Solar pool covers works like giant solar collectors, they grab the solar energy all day long and move the heat obtained to the water.
Solar blankets work by reducing the water evaporation process and retaining the heat of the pool. They are more suitable for gentle climates where there is no extreme cold. It is most probably the cheapest technique for heating a swimming pool.

Solar pool covers float on the water and anchors are not necessary

They can raise the water temperature up to 15 degrees. Although solar covers are not intended for cleanness purposes, they will significantly reduce the amount of debris that usually fall into any swimming pools.

Too much chemicals in your pool is the most frequent cause of degradation of pool covers. Chlorine will slowly attack the material forming the cover. Make sure to always roll back the solar pool cover before adding chlorine and other products to the water. The solar cover can be used again once the chemicals are totally mixed with the water.

To extend the life of solar pool covers you should always remove them during the winter season. Before storing the cover in a safe place it is important to clean it and dry it meticulously to avoid deterioration. Read more

By investing into a solar pool heater or solar pool covers , you’ll definitely make big savings and most importantly you will contribute to a cleaner planet by using solar energy.

Solar Air Heater, Energy Efficient Heating

Solar Air Heater

Courtesy solarwindowheaters.com

Solar air heater systems convert solar energy into warm air. The basic components used for solar heating devices are plates, vents, heating coils and diffuser. The heat is concentrated and collected in the flat plate connectors with thin panels, which store and convert the heat energy of the sun. The panels are generally 4, 6 or 8 feet long and baked on black coating powder.
For better results, the panels are made of custom gauge aluminum materials. Most of the time the heaters are placed on the roofs so that they have a direct exposure with sun.
With the rays falling on the thin panels or plates, the solar energy is concentrated and used to heat the coils inside the collector. When the coils get heated, they make the surrounding air warm and the hot air is pushed through vents into the house.
The solar energy is either collected and stored in the storage medium like rock bin for later use, or directly transferred through the vents.

Solar air heater systems commonly use a concentrating collector

The solar panels can be mobile units, which move according to the sun. This helps in continuous supply of heating facility at homes or offices, as the ratio of concentration of rays is uniform. It is more efficient and useful as compared with the normal systems. Such systems are mostly seen in organizations or institutes. In addition to its efficiency, it also provides the users with greater heating.


Using a solar air heater is very useful for regions having very low temperature.
The initial cost for the installation is high but after that, there is no cost as solar energy is free and it is a clean source of energy.

Solar heating not only help to reduce electricity bills but also help to improve quality of indoor air.
The quality of the air is maintained by filtering the air and increasing the intake of the exterior fresh air.
A solar air heater is the best option to go for, as there are variety of unique designs and high quality systems available at affordable prices. It is just a one-time investment, which serves the users for lifetime. It is the most efficient and economical way, which helps reduce air pollution and global warming. Furniture, floor, walls and ceilings absorb the warmth; solar air heater helps to restore it back during day or nighttime.

Solar heating systems can be a bit difficult to choose; therefore, you should always select an appropriate product, which will suit your requirements. In the market different systems of various shapes and structure are available for office, home, organizations etc. hence it is essential to select the right solar air heater. More information here

Even though installation process is quite easy, it is always advisable to leave it to the experts and leave no room for errors. You can find numbers of specialists online and most of them will be able to help you design and install a solar air heater suitable to your situation.

Five Uses of Solar Panel Systems

Solar Panel SystemsSolar panel systems are composed of an array of solar cells or collectors that can harness energy from the sun for a number of household or commercial applications. Believe it or not, a solar panel can produce electricity, treat waste water, light greenhouses, heat up water, and steam cook.

  1. Producing electricity
    The usual solar panel systems are made up of photo-voltaic cells that collect and gather light from the sun. Thereafter, it converts solar energy into usable electricity. This process is called photoelectric effect, which is made possible using special materials called semiconductors.

    Solar panel systems became popular because of advancements in the quality of materials used in solar technology and improved panel design.As a result, solar panels became cheaper and more commercially appealing. Today, most homes favor solar power systems as backup power sources over the conventional backup generators.
  2. Treating waste water
    Solar panel systems can be used for the waste water treatment of brackish or saline water. The process is called solar distillation.
    A mining town in Las Salinas, Chile houses the first large-scale solar distillation plant that was ever constructed. The plant can distill about 22,700 liters of wastewater each day.
  3. Heating water
    One of the features of a solar panel system is that it also collects sunlight to harness its heat energy. Concentrating the sunlight onto a heat-conducting container would raise its temperature such that it will be able to heat water. These are called solar water heaters.

  4. The greenhouse effect

    Greenhouses are very popular in the agriculture and horticulture industries. Solar panel systems can be setup in tandem with thermal masses to create a greenhouse effect that will improve plant growth and productivity.

    English and French farmers realized that fruit walls trap the heat of the sun, and in turn, has a positive effect on the fruits. With this discovery, farmers use thermal masses to trap the heat emitted by the sun. They find that the fruits are actually undergoing an accelerated ripening process with the help of thermal masses.

    Aside from increasing the growth of plants and fruits, the greenhouse effect can also be used to dry farm goods such as coffee beans, marigold and other crops. There are countries that actually use the greenhouse effect to dry up chicken manure for use as fertilizer.
  5. For cooking
    Solar panel systems can also be used for cooking food, as well as drying and pasteurization. Panel cookers are one of three categories that use solar panels for cooking. Using a reflective panel, sunlight is directed to insulated containers. Typical cooking temperatures of about 315 degrees Celsius are possible with this setup.

    The only problem with this system is that direct sunlight is required to achieve the right cooking temperature. Also, the panels must be re-positioned as necessary as possible to keep track of the sunlight’s position.

Setting up solar panel systems will give you the opportunity to save money from all of these applications and uses. Not only will the system be environment-safe, but it will also serve as a backup power just in case you need one. Get more details here

Solar Heating Panels Explained

Solar Heating Panels

Courtesy www.solardecathlon.gov

When thinking about solar energy, the first thing that comes to your mind are those expensive photo voltaic solar panels that transform the solar energy into electricity. Solar heating panels use a totally different technology. Instead of producing electricity, they are designed to heat water or air.

Solar collectors as they are also known can be classified in two different groups according to their use. The first one is designed for solar water heating and the second for heating spaces. Both systems work in a similar way.

  • Flat plate solar collectors
    Flat plate solar collectors without glass cover are most of the time used to heat swimming pools. There is no need for insulation on such systems. When the collectors are enclosed in a frame equipped with glazing and insulated their main purpose is for air and domestic water heating
  • Unglazed Collectors
    Unglazed solar collectors are intended for low temperature purposes like aqua culture and swimming pools water heating. The majority of these solar collectors use polymer plastic or rubber. To extend the life of these materials they are UV treated.
  • Evacuated-Tube Collectors
    Solar heating panels using evacuated-tube collectors are made of a number of glass tubes. Each vacuum-sealed tube contains an absorbent plate attached to a heat pipe. The heat present in the pipe is transferred to a device called condenser. Condensers are fixed to a heat-exchange part. Heat obtained is transferred to the condenser. The cold water run through the system, collect the heat from the condensers before going to a tank. On this kind of water heating system, cold weather or water at high temperature have almost no effect on evacuated tube collectors.
  • Glazed Flat-Plate Collectors
    Glazed solar heating panels are made of a thin rectangular container and a plate of black color placed behind a glass cover. On the plate is located a circuit of tubes. Water or antifreeze liquid will run through the tubes. While circulating, the liquid will absorb the heat coming from the sun thanks to the solar collector. The hot water is then evacuated to a storage tank connected to the existing water heater. Such solar heating systems using flat-plate collectors perform better in warm weather. They are perfect for applications requiring average to high temperature.

All the above solar hot water systems are a great and efficient way of using solar heating. Such technology is mature enough to be implemented and provides excellent results. Whatever the kind of solar heating panels you decide to install, you can expect to make substantial savings on your energy bills.   5 cool things about active solar heating

Solar power can be available in numerous places in the world. For example you can get solar power in a car parked in the sunshine, in a house without air flowing, in a building with no windows opened and without fans regenerating the atmosphere. When you enter this kind of places that have been heated by the sunlight for a long period of time you can quickly notice the intensity of the heat inside. This high temperature generated by solar heating panels can be used to heat water or air in homes and buildings.

Using solar heating panels is a natural and free way of heating spaces or water

When heating using solar power you utilize a piece of equipment that will capture the heat coming from the sun during the day. The device used to catch the heat from the sun is called a solar collector.
For example, when the windows are closed, your car’s interior gets very hot when parked outside at midday. The dark seats become too hot and will remain warm even when the sun stops shining directly on your vehicle. Because the seats have trapped the heat and released it slowly. This is the way a solar heating panel works.
Making a solar heat collector is not very difficult. For example things like black color, glass, metals and mirrors attract and concentrate the sun rays. There is an infinite choice of ideas to capture the heat and trap it for future use.

To heat your water or house, you need to find a way to circulate water or air through the solar collector. The hot water produced, flows into an insulated water tank then to your taps or the hot air is used for heating the house. No gas or electricity is needed to keep the water warm.

Finding a way to bring the hot water or air into the house is not difficult. For example fans and water pumps are often used for this purpose. Both devices will push the air or water to the desired destination.

Creating a solar collector can be a challenging project for the neophyte

That’s why they are widely available online and in specialized stores. Nowadays, solar power products are easy to buy and affordable. You can also find them in ready to use kits.
If you succeed in implementing your project, you can have solar heating or hot water all year long. Not only you will make substantial savings, but you will also contribute to a better environment.

Active Solar Heating

Active Solar HeatingActive solar heating systems are a novel approach to improving the energy efficiency of your home; compared to putting photovoltaic cells on the roof, they can be attractive, and inconspicuous. The basic mechanism of an active solar system is to put a solar collection surface, usually of a dark color, with tubes that transfer the heat transfer fluid to a storage tank. These are called active systems because any electricity generated is used to move the heating fluid around the system, where it can do the most good.

Active solar heating systems are easier to retrofit into a house

They use much of the existing infrastructure, or because they can be part of a remodeling job in the attic. Important considerations in this style of solar heating systems are the choice of the working fluid.

If you’re using air, the warm air from the system heats up a bed of rocks or clay pellets, which then re-radiate heat back into the system after nightfall. Air-driven active solar heating systems are the most affordable ones on the market, and the simplest ones to install and maintain; you never have to worry about your air-pipes freezing and bursting, for example.

Solar heating with water as the working fluid takes advantage of the incredible thermal capacity of water as a liquid; water is one of the most efficient heat transfer systems around, which is why wet clothes are a risk of hypothermia. Water requires a pumping mechanism, which air flow systems do not, but it’s also much more efficient per unit volume of heat transfer fluid.

One of the mechanisms used on active solar heating systems to make water run efficiently, and to power the pumps needed to make them work, is a refrigerant cogeneration system, or a small photovoltaic system (small photovoltaic systems are also used to power fans for directing air flow in air driven systems).
The refrigerant will heat up, expand, charge a compressor, which discharges and moves water through the system at a faster rate than it circulates.
This can also be used to power an air conditioner, which can be a nice benefit.

The second major advantage of a water driven system is that it can completely replace your hot water heater system if you have a reservoir that’s large enough, and you get enough sunlight. For homes that are built with these systems in mind from the time the plans are drawn, you can make a solar water heater system that runs warm water through hose underneath a sealed concrete floor, as part of a ground floor heating system, with the southern facing wall painted a dark color, and used as the primary collection point from the get go. Read more

Active solar heating solutions are affordable, environmentally friendly, and a good investment in the resale value of your home; even if they won’t pay for themselves in the immediate term with reduced utility bills.

Passive Solar Heating

Passive Solar HeatingIt is well known that the sun is stronger from the south direction. This theory is often used by people willing to use passive solar heating for their homes. To get maximum natural lighting and heating at minimum expense it is always better to have windows facing south. Even though it is not true all the time, it also depends on your geographical location. It is a general rule to keep in mind when using solar energy.

Passive solar heating is when sunlight is transformed to heat that can be used for heating or cooling spaces or heating water. Solar heating systems are called passive because no electrical apparatus like pumps or fans are used to force air or water all the way through. When such electrical or mechanical devices are used the system becomes active solar energy and is more expensive due to all the external mechanical and electrical equipments connected to the system

Passive solar heating is ideal for heating spaces and water but many factors have to be taken into consideration

Adequate insulation like windows with double glazing and other insulated construction material should be used in order to regulate the temperature inside and to prevent heat loss. Thermal mass materials are a good choice. They have the capability to store energy, both cold and heat and to discharge that energy back into the house when needed.


Mass materials are usually used for walls and floors. The perfect thickness for thermal mass materials is between 4 and 5 inches. Phase-change materials are also often used.

Direct solar gain is the easiest and most affordable way for using solar heating.
The house itself becomes the solar system. The windows situated south are the solar collectors. The floor and walls store the energy.
For fully taking advantage of the solar gain, the house and windows must be orientated to the true south. Get more info here

Solar heating technology is also applied for solar furnace and solar forge but the most suitable and effective applications for passive solar energy remain heating water and spaces.

Due to the ever-increasing costs of electricity and gas, more people are deciding to be fewer dependants on traditional forms of energy and be more involved in alternative energy. Building a house heated by solar energy can cost a lot of money initially, but in the long run, the benefits of passive solar heating are sure. When setting up and using a solar heating system, the main rewards are substantial savings and your contribution to a cleaner environment.

Solar Heating System

Solar Heating System

Courtesy Wikipedia

Choosing a solar heating system for home can be kind of overwhelming. To avoid heat loss, it should be implemented only after a very good insulation of the home is made. It is important to keep the generated heat concealed into the house. Double glazed windows, curtains and thermal materials for floors and walls will help. By using solar energy to heat your home, keep in mind that you will still need electricity or gas as a backup heating source.

There are several ways to capture solar energy for heating purposes. All systems gather the energy from the sun through solar collectors. The heat obtained can be transferred to the interior of a house of building. Basically there are two types of active solar heating system and there is a similarity with solar water heating systems in the way they both work. Some systems will provide both functions, heating water and space.

Depending on the configuration, air or water can be the heating medium

In case of hot air, fans can be used to push the hot air inside the structure and warm the space. With water, the hot water coming out of the solar collectors is pushed by a pump through a distribution system and flows inside radiators (hydronic) located inside the house. Another way to circulate hot water for heating spaces inside a house is by using floor coil heating systems. In this case, hot water flows inside tubes located under the floor of the house. A solar heating system can be used for whole buildings and individual houses.

Due to the always increasing costs of gas and electricity, a lot of people are choosing to be less dependant on fossil energy and be more involved in alternative sources of energy. Designing a home heated by solar energy can be costly initially, but the long term benefits are certain. When installing a solar heating system, savings and cleaner environment are the main rewards.

The use of solar heating systems is not a new thing

Solar water heaters for example are commercialized and used since the 1800’s. But today’s solar energy technology is more efficient and the production and prices are going down every year. As long as the demand keeps growing and production increases, prices will continue to decrease. By using a solar heating system, you can reduce your electricity or gas bills. Such heating method will also add value to your property. With all the tax incentives and rebates offered on solar powered installations the timing is ideal for considering moving to solar energy.

You get your dose of vitamin D every time you go outside on a sunny day. Not only that; you immediately feel the warmth of sunlight. This heat from the sun is actually a very important medium for some of the newer solar heating systems available today.

Solar heating is based on the technology of solar thermal energy. The technology is used to harness the energy of the sun for its heat or otherwise known as thermal energy.

A solar heating system uses collectors to capture heat energy from the sun

These are called solar thermal collectors and can be categorized as low, medium or high. Low thermal collectors are easy to recognize since these are popularly used in the heating systems of swimming pools. Medium thermal collectors, on the other hand are used to heat up water for domestic or commercial use. Both the low and medium thermal collectors are made up of flat plates.

High solar thermal collectors, on the other hand, collect sunlight using lens or mirrors. These types of solar collectors are used for the production of electrical power. You must not mistaken high solar thermal collectors to photovoltaic cells since it does not directly convert solar energy into electricity.

Applications and uses of solar heaters

Solar heating systems have many applications and uses. For instance, it is used to set-up a greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect provides the extra heat that fruits and plants need to grow faster. It is a big help to farmers and horticulturists.

Solar technology is also used to regulate the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation of houses. Controlling the heat present in an environment using thermal mass materials will provide the heating and air-conditioning requirements of a house.

Solar heating systems can also be used for cooking. You can use solar cookers that concentrate heat energy to a container to rise up its temperature. With enough heat, the food inside the container will be cooked in no time.

Such systems are also used for the disinfection and distillation of water, and to obtain salt from seawater.

Evaporation ponds or solar ponds are used to separate the salt from the seawater. Separating the salt from seawater is actually the oldest application of solar heating systems and compared to the above applications and uses, the technology has indeed gone a long way since then.

The key to solar heating

The basic processes involved in solar heating include the gain, transfer, storage, transport and insulation of heat. Either of these basic processes can be found and identified from the above-mentioned applications and use of solar heating systems.

Scientists have found ways to maximize heat when it goes from one process to another. It is not impossible that future research will eventually identify other uses for heat energy from the sun. A single process or a combination of a number of processes can cover future applications.

Understanding solar home heating systems

In buildings, the heating system is integrated to the ventilation and air-conditioning systems. These systems regulate the room temperature during the summer and winter months. But building construction is now considering solar home heating systems to provide heat during the winter instead of the conventional electric or generator-based systems.

In countries like Russia and the northern parts of Europe, people seldom use air-conditioning because the climate is always freezing cold. The people use oil-fired heaters, gas heaters, and district heating to provide warmth inside their homes. Oil-burning systems are more practical than electricity-based heating systems.

However, these heating systems still burn oil and fossil fuels as compared to a solar system that uses renewable energy from the sun. Long term, implementing a solar home heating system is still cheaper than oil-burning systems.

Oil-fired and gas-fired heating systems may have an efficiency ranging from 80% to 97% but are not environment-friendly. Newer laws implemented in several countries led to the need for a newer and safer option for a heating system. For example, a phase-out of oil-fired heating system was implemented in Sweden.

Coal-fired heating systems are not only harmful to the environment but are also less efficient at about 60%.

Electricity-based heating systems are the conventional type used by most buildings and homes. However, these systems are less efficient because about two thirds of extracted energy from fossil fuels is lost.

The solar home heating system is definitely pro-environment because the source of heat energy is renewable and does not emit unnecessary wastes. It is cheap because solar energy is basically free. You only have to shell out a small amount for investing for the solar collectors or solar heating panels and the initial setup of the system. After that, you will immediately start with your savings resulting to a faster return of investment. More

Using heat pumps

Heat pumps are popular in countries where the weather tends to change between warm and cold climate. The heat pumps provide the needed air-conditioning during summer and it can also be used to provide warmth during the winter season. For colder climates, geothermal heat pumps are used to extract heat from the ground.

There are many heating system options to choose from but if you want to save on electricity costs, why not consider a solar home heating system? Solar heating provides convenience and comfort during winter when temperatures tend to go freezing low.

This is especially true in countries where the climate is quite cold at most times of the year. Houses and buildings use a furnace room and boiler room, respectively, to provide local heating but you can cover more areas of the house using a solar heater.

A solar home heating system is composed of row of solar panels or solar collectors that collects energy from sunlight. Pipes locked in frames circulate water that can be heated either via natural convection process or by incorporating pumps into the system. Heated water is passed to these pipes for heat transfer and is stored in a tank for other possible uses.

The major advantages of a solar heating system over the rest are its cheap running cost, environment-friendly and rely on a renewable source of energy. There is no heating system that has all of these three features.

Solar Dryer for Energy Saving and Food Conservation

Solar DryerUsing a solar dryer is a process that has been practiced since man learned to think for himself. This might sound like an exaggeration but it isn’t. When man understood that food has to be preserved; the first thing that he thought of was drying it. As it is widely accepted that stone-age man didn’t have microwaves or other heating devices, he used the sun’s heat to dry roots, berries, tubers and meat. You’ll find a lot of details here

Solar drying is still practiced in many countries where the wheat and lentil grain stocks are exposed to the sun so that they are sufficiently dried for storage. The disadvantage of this process is that there is a great chance of contamination and spoilage.

Solar drying used in agriculture or industrial drying process prove to be very useful in energy conservation. They not only save energy but also save time, improve quality, make the process efficient and protect the environment. The use of a solar dryer (which is different from classical drying) is useful across various industries for different purpose viz.

  • In agriculture for crop drying
  • In food processing for dehydration of fruits, potatoes, onions and vegetables
  • In dairy industry for producing milk powder and casein
  • In lumber industry for seasoning of wood and timber
  • In textile industries for drying of textile material

There are two types of solar drying devices namely direct and indirect solar dryer

  1. The direct ones or cabinet dryers are enclosed, insulated structures inside which solar collection and drying takes place. Radiation is collected through a transparent cover (glass or plastic) in the drying chamber which is ventilated for improved airflow. Trays carrying the products to be dried are placed inside the chamber.
  2. The indirect solar dryer or thermo-siphon dryers have a collector and a separate drying chamber. They operate more efficiently and allow more control over drying. The collector heats up the air which rises and forces its way through the racks containing the products in the drying chamber. Such dryers may be without flow enhancement and they are best suited for high value commercial scale drying.

Many vegetables and herbs can be dried and then stored for the rest of the year. Peas and beans should be dried with varieties of dried mint to enhance the flavor. Beans prefer a bay leaf in each jar. Garlic and onions need to be peeled and sliced to about 3-4 mm thickness. There are many other fruits and veggies that can be dried using a solar dryer. Some fruits like tomatoes, apples, figs, grapes require additional efforts. More info

There are many websites that offer help with the construction of such dryers for home use. You can dry your food at home and without the contamination and spoilage endured during classical drying. The solar dryer is also a very good way to start saving energy. Most of the industrial dryers work on electricity and fossil fuels. Solar energy helps to provide industrial and agricultural drying with a non-conventional and economical way to dry foodstuffs.

Portable Solar Panels for Domestic and Military Applications

Portable Solar PanelsOne of the most popular types of portable solar panel systems are the thin film solar panels. But just how much energy does it gives you? Not enough to heat your house, but enough to run some of your portable devices, or recharge their rechargeable batteries.

These portable panels operate like large solar panels, but generate less electricity due to their smaller size. Like their larger cousins, they operate best under direct full sun conditions. Most of them will work on cloudy and rainy days, but it will take longer to generate the electricity to charge your device. Most will not operate with indoor lighting, but there are solar panels being developed that will be able to use indoor light. They’re projected to reach the consumer market in another 4 or 5 years.

Good portable solar panels have built-in regulators

They’ll automatically adjust the amount of energy they produce to the amount that the device requires. So be sure that the units you buy have this feature, otherwise there’s a danger of overcharging (or “frying”) the device that you’re trying to recharge.

Most foldable solar panels come into sizes small enough to fit into a large pocket or purse

But you can’t fold the cells themselves. Think of a weight belt. It’s foldable and flexible when compared to a barbell. But it folds because small weights are sewn into a flexible fabric, not because the weights are foldable. It’s the same with the foldable solar panels: they fold because the solar cells are small enough to be mounted on foldable fabric.

So even though portable solar panels are advertised to be durable and waterproof, you still need to be careful when handling them. If you fold or crease the solar cell itself, you’ll probably break or disable it. So don’t fold the cell, or put the portable panels in the washing machine, or poke them with sharp objects. Your weight belt will survive that kind of treatment, but your portable solar panel won’t.

One more word of caution: the portable solar panel can’t recharge regular batteries. It can only charge rechargeable batteries. This may be obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many people try to recharge regular batteries.

You will need additional connector equipment in order to use the portable panels, so plan for the additional expense. You’ll need connectors that fit with the charging plugs on your portable devices. And if you plan to use your portable solar panels to trickle charge your car, boat or snowmobile battery, you might need a set of battery clips.

“Trickle charging” can keep your vehicle’s battery fully charged. Here’s how it works: place the portable solar panel on a surface where it receives the most sun; then plug it into the cigarette lighter socket, or attach the clips to the vehicle’s battery. This can be a great help in really cold climates where temperatures drop below freezing, and you have to keep your car parked outside all day.

Portable solar panels are still relatively expensive compared to using grid electricity at home or in the office. But they make sense if you spend a lot of time camping, hiking or working from your car. And they’re great backup systems for times when the power goes out.

Flexible Solar PanelWhat are thin film solar panels

Thin film solar panels are a newer, thinner type of solar panel that has the potential to make solar energy much more affordable. They rely on the same photovoltaic process that “thick” solar panels use. Put simply, the PV cell contains semiconductor material. Sunlight passes through and interacts with the semiconductor material, and creates an electric current. This electricity can be used immediately to power appliances in your home or business, or stored in batteries for later use. More here

So what’s so great about thin film solar panels

Well, thick solar panels (the first generation of solar panels, and the ones you are used to seeing), traditionally use crystalline silicon for the semiconductor material. It works as a way to create electricity from sunlight, but it’s labor-intensive to manufacture. Each cell has to be produced on an individual silicon wafer, one by one, which makes it expensive.
This is the main reason that solar panels have not been widely affordable in the past.

But thin film solar panels use materials for their semiconductors that are much thinner than crystalline silicon. The “thin film” semiconductors can be mass produced using automated systems and cheaper materials. At this point, the process is almost 3 times less labor-intensive than the process for manufacturing the traditional crystalline silicon thick cell solar panels. So the cost to manufacture solar panels is coming down. This means it will be cheaper for new start-up businesses to enter the solar panel manufacturing market. And as more businesses produce and supply portable solar panels, prices will drop even further.

The “thin film” process also means that the solar cell is smaller, lighter weight, and can be applied to materials that are smaller, lighter weight and more flexible themselves. In fact, “thin film” technology has changed the look of home solar panels so much that you might not recognize them. Instead of needing a heavy and elaborate steel structure to hold a large array of thick silicon-based solar panels in place, the thin film solar panels can be integrated into the roof or wall itself.

Thin film composition roofing shingles and thin film panels for metal roofing are already commercially available and being used in construction. Smaller portable solar panel systems are being manufactured to power up your electronic devices. Cell phones, GPS devices, MP3 players and even televisions and laptops can now be powered with thin film solar technology.

Thin-film foldable solar panels are widely used by the military

These portable solar panels are small enough and lightweight enough that you can “install” one on your backpack or carry one in your purse. And just like digital watches, which cost hundreds of dollars only a few decades ago, it won’t be long before the price of home solar panels will be so low that we’ll be buying them with our pocket change at the corner convenience store.

Solar Pool Heating Benefits

Solar Pool HeatingIf you own a swimming pool, you definitely need to consider solar pool heating a way to keep it warm. Otherwise, your pool will be too cold to use. There are many ways to heat your pool including gas heaters, propane heaters and pool covers. With the price of gas and energy rising, many of these heaters will be expensive to operate. Fortunately, there is another option that you should consider. A solar pool heater system can easily keep your pool warm and comfortable while helping you save money on your energy bill. This article will describe how solar pool heaters work, why you need to consider investing in a solar hot water system and how to choose the right heater for your needs.

How does solar pool heating work

As the name implies, a solar pool heater is powered by energy from the sun. Though some heaters work differently, most cycle the cool water from your pool through solar panels. These panels use solar collectors to capture energy from the sun. The panels then use this free energy to warm the water before cycling it back into your pool. As a result, your pool is kept warm and comfortable for those who wish to use it. A solar pool heater system can economically lengthen the time of year that you use your pool.

Benefits of using solar pool heating

There are several reasons to use a solar pool heater over other types of heaters. First, as mentioned, you can save significant on your monthly gas and energy bills. Second, you and your family can enjoy using your pool for a longer time during the year, knowing that your energy costs are lower. Third, solar pool heaters usually require less maintenance than other heaters. Both electric and gas heaters need to be serviced occasionally. Last, a solar pool heating system will likely last longer than other types of heaters. While many gas heaters carry a 2-year warranty, you can expect your solar heater to last 7 to 10 years.

You can purchase solar pool heaters for an above-ground pool as well as an in-ground pool. A large above-ground pool can either have a “roof top” cover that collects the sun’s energy and warms your pool or a heating system that sits on the ground. Many owners of smaller above-ground pools prefer a solar pool heating system that sits on the ground. An in-ground pool should use a “roof top” cover. This type of cover typically sits on the roof of your home while collecting energy. Unobtrusive, a “roof top” cover will likely not even be seen by your guests.
Consider the decision to buy a solar water heating system to warm your pool an investment. Not only will it allow your family and friends to enjoy a warm pool in which to swim, but you can extend the swimming season and do so while saving money on fuel costs. Further, because solar pool heaters require less maintenance and are generally more durable than other heaters, you can expect your heater to warm your pool for many years. You can find additional info here

Should you build your own solar pool heater

Building your own solar pool heater is a great do-it-yourself project if you want to add solar to your home. You will not need to buy a lot of expensive equipment or tools. And you will not need highly specialized skills. Here is a basic explanation of the process and benefits so you can decide if you want to tackle it.

The project payback time can be as short as 2 years in terms of energy savings. This is because you will be saving the cost of gas to heat your pool. And the cost of materials for building a solar pool heater is lower than with most other solar projects. You will also be saving the cost of installation if you decide to go ahead and do that yourself.

You will need to purchase only a few simple components: solar collectors, piping, a controller and a diverter valve. You will not need to build or buy a storage tank, since your pool already stores the water. And you won’t need to buy, build or install a circulating pump, since your solar pool heater will use your pool’s circulating pump.

Here’s a simple explanation of how the system works. The water from the pool gets pumped into the solar collector, gets heated by the sun and gets pumped back into the pool. This is called an open loop design. The controller allows you to select the warmest temperature you want the pool to reach. And the diverter valve either sends water back to the pool if it is already warm enough, or over to the collector to be heated as needed.

The solar collector is a simple system of black polypropylene UV-resistant tubing. The choice of materials is important so that the tubing doesn’t break down from exposure to the sun or from exposure from the chlorine in the pool. The proper materials will last up to 20 years.

Although it is tempting to think of doing it all yourself, including making the solar collector, it is really easier and more cost effective to buy ready made collectors for your project. The reason is that adhesives will not stick to polypropylene, and the equipment you would need to thermal weld it would cost more than buying the ready-made collectors. Also, experts advise against using a less expensive rubber or plastic tubing that will break down too quickly because of exposure to the sun and chlorine.

If you decide that you really want to install your solar pool heating system yourself, the easiest method is to buy a kit. You will still need to design measure and install your system. And you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your efforts for years afterwards.