Solar panels can generate electricity for homes and buildings, but that isn’t all that they can generate. There are some solar technologies that make use of the sun’s thermal energy to help produce heat for those homes and lower the heating bills.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels generate electricity, however energy from the sun can be used more than one way. A popular way to use solar power, aside from solar electricity, is with a solar heating system. It converts solar energy to usable heat instead of electricity.
There are a few different ways to use solar energy to generate heat. Listed below are the ways to use solar energy to generate heat that we will be discussing.
Solar water heating systems
Depending on where you live and how much hot water you use, the cost of heating water can be expensive. One way to reduce that cost of heating water for your home is by solar water heating, which is commonly known as solar hot water, is a great solution.
If you have a solar water heating system you can use the suns power to reduce how much your house relies on more traditional water heating sources, like oil, electricity and natural gas, that is favorable and environmentally friendly.
These solar hot water systems capture thermal energy from the sun and use it to heat water for your home. These systems can either be passive or active - these passive systems use gravity and natural circulation, active systems use pump and controls to circulate water.
Like regular solar systems, there is a payback period for the solar water heating system. The payback periods vary depending on the method you are currently using to heat your water.
The payback period for a solar hot water system which replaces natural gas will be longer than one that replaces electricity and gasoline because natural gas is a lot less expensive of a fuel.
If you install a water heating system on your roof, you can expect to see significant annual returns that are dependant on your water the previous method of water heating. Using a solar water heating system also reduces your carbon footprint and your homes impact on the environment.
Solar space heaters
Solar space heaters are unique because they use the sun’s energy to heat your home. Similarly to solar water heating, these systems usually require more collectors, which results in more roof space, as well are bigger storage unites to get the job done.
The energy is harnessed and the solar collectors and used to heat either liquid or air. After it is heated it is then circulated to spread the heat where it is needed.
Like solar water heating systems, there are passive and active solar space heaters. A passive system works a lot like greenhouses, the collectors gather energy and the heat is then trapped and circulated naturally. Active solar space heaters use pumps and other mechanisms to circulate the heat.
These solar space heaters can reduce the heating costs up to 70 percent. But, mist building codes require backup heating system, this way your solar space heaters should be mixed with an already existing heating system.
How to Heat Your Home Using Solar Energy
As winter approaches, and the fear of those rising utility bills is currently on the horizon, many people are wondering if now is the time to make the switch to solar. A lot of people don’t think they can switch to solar during the winter, due to the cold and the clouds, but that isn’t true. The cold weather will have absolutely no effect on your solar panels, as they absorb sunlight, not heat. And the clouds will make them slightly less efficient, but your solar panels will still do their job, and again, you won’t have to worry about it. So, how do you heat your home using solar energy? Keep reading this blog to find out!
Heating Your Home with Passive Solar Energy
Passive solar energy does not require the use of solar panels, batteries, converters, or any other special equipment. Instead, it relies on the natural power of the sun that beams into your home. Newer homes are being built to utilize passive solar power by including large sun-facing windows, stone floors, and brick walls that help absorb and retain heat from the sun.
If your home has well-insulated windows, leave your blinds and curtains open to allow the sun to pour in, naturally warming the air inside. You may have heard this referred to as the “greenhouse effect” and it works pretty well as long as your windows are in good repair and not allowing a draft to enter. Putting up plastic sheeting can help reduce drafts and allow the sun to still enter. Leave doors open and reverse ceiling fans to help circulate the warmed air throughout your home.
If you want to maximize passive solar heating as much as possible, you can place large drums of water beneath the window to absorb the sunlight and warm, providing warmth for the entire room. Painting the wall opposite the window a flat black will allow the wall to retain the heat from the sun rays and naturally warm the room a few degrees.
If you are not into having drums of water or flat black walls and allowing the sunlight to come in does not warm your home enough, you can invest in active solar power.
Heating Your Home with Solar Panels
Active solar power requires the use of devices, such as panels to collect solar energy and convert it to usable energy. Most commonly, photovoltaic solar panels are what is used on the roof of homes to collect solar power. These panels collect sunlight and convert it into DC power. Using a converter, it is then transferred into usable AC power to run a heater in your home.
Using solar power to heat your home is not only environmentally friendly but is pocketbook friendly as well! Although the initial investment of an active solar power system may be more than your current electric bill, the return on investment is much higher than buying a new furnace. Solar energy isn’t subject to inflation the way gas or electricity is, so you can prepare for a much more constant bill.
You’ll definitely want to install solar this winter, as you’ll not only be able to keep your heat running much more without having to worry as much about your bill, but you’ll also be able to start saving during the highest usage of electricity all year.
Solar pool heaters
One way to use solar water heating is for pools. Solar pool heating systems are a great way to harness the sun’s energy and use it to save a lot of money by heating a pool.
The way that a solar pool heater works is that it uses a solar thermal panels, which are often known as collectors, that collect the heat from the sun and then transfer that heat to the pool water that us pumped through them.
These solar collectors often look very similar to photovoltaic panels, but they have space inside them for the pool water to flow through and be heated.
These pool heaters need little to no maintenance and if they are installed property they will usually last for about 10 to 20 years. A lot of homeowners are able to break even on their pool heater investment in under 7 years.
Solar heater installation options
There are more solar technologies are on the marker right now that can help you save money on your energy bills. The solar technologies have not only the use of the sun to generate power, but they also have other attributes in common:
They both help the homeowners save money
They both are often eligible for a lot of the same incentives and rebates
Both of the systems work the best on sunny and shade-free roofs.
If you are interested in installing a solar water heating system on your roof, it is recommend that you find a reputable and licensed solar contractor to come out and do the job.
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