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Solar Heating Basics

Solar Heating Basics

Solar Heating, or solar hot water, is the most cost-effective, and quickly becoming the most popular and fastest growing use of solar energy in the world.  Every year, tens of thousands of home and business owners take advantage of the massive financial benefits of a solar heating system.

Solar thermal hot water systems can be used for:

  • Domestic Hot Water
  • Radiant & Space Heating
  • Pool, Spa & Hot Tub Heating
  • Process Heating
  • & More

The concept is simple. Solar energy is a free source of unlimited heat. Unlike solar electric, solar thermal systems harness energy directly as heat and use it to augment a household’s domestic hot water, space heating or pool heating systems. It is by far the most efficient way to harness the energy of the sun.

  1. The sun heats a non-toxic propylene glycol solution within the solar hot water collector.
  2. The glycol solution is pumped to the basement where it exchanges its heat with the water in the home’s hot water storage tank.
  3. Once the heat is transferred, the glycol solution is pumped back to the collectors to be heated again. The process continuously repeats itself and optimized by an advanced digital controller, providing free hot water for up to 30 years.

Sizing A Solar Heating System
Sizing a solar heating system is actually quite simple.  When sizing a solar domestic hot water system, there are really only a couple of small factors that need to be addressed.  The most important is the number of residents in your home.  Statistics bear out that the average person uses about 20 gallons of domestic hot water per day.  This means that, if you have a household of 4, you would use roughly 80 gallons of hot water each day (again, this will obviously vary a little bit as each person and family is different).  So, for a family of 4, a pre-packaged kit that produces 80 – 120 gallons of hot water on a sunny day will be adequate for reducing hot water heating costs by 50%, or more over the course of a year.

Solar Space Heating

Solar energy collected at relatively low temperatures can be used effectively for space heating especially in radiant floor systems. The design requirements for space heating systems differ from those for domestic water heating, because space-heating needs are seasonal and larger. These differences affect collector size and tilt and influence planning for the storage volume size and tank design. Space heating systems can take many different forms, each with its own unique approach to collecting, storing and distributing solar energy. However, conventional residential and commercial heating systems can be used for the distribution of solar energy to a building or home – and to swimming pool or spa in the summer!

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