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.