To get the most out of solar energy, it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and get someone to install solar panels on the roof today. There are many ways we can benefit from the solar power. One is the indirect gain – Trombe Walls.
An indirect-gain passive solar home has its thermal storage between the south-facing windows and the living spaces.
Using a Trombe wall is the most common indirect-gain approach. The wall consists of an 8–16 inch-thick masonry wall on the south side of a house. A single or double layer of glass is mounted about 1 inch or less in front of the wall’s surface. Solar heat is absorbed by the wall’s dark-colored outside surface and stored in the wall’s mass, where it radiates into the living space.
The Trombe wall distributes or releases heat into the home over a period of several hours. Solar heat migrates through the wall, reaching its rear surface in the late afternoon or early evening. When the indoor temperature falls below that of the wall’s surface, heat begins to radiate and transfer into the room. For example, heat travels through a masonry wall at an average rate of 1 hour per inch. Therefore, the heat absorbed on the outside of an 8-inch-thick concrete wall at noon will enter the interior living space around 8 p.m.
How well your solar heating system works and performs really depend on several factors. One of course is the quality of your system, your system design and the installation. When you’re ready to have solar heating system installed, be sure to check with the installer. You want to get several quotes and ask for references. Their experiences really matter in how well they can install the system. Talk to other customers.
Once the system is successfully installed, don’t forget the annual maintenance. It’d be the best to use the same contractor who installed it in the first place to maintain the system. That’s another reason to find a good and experienced installer in the first place.
If you’re thinking of installing active solar heating systems or are just wondering about its true benefits, all I know is that it is the most cost-effective when they are used for most of the year. Which means that you need to have good solar resources. AZ, for example, will be a good place to have solar heating. If you currently use electricity, propane, and oil heat to heat your house, solar heating system will make the cost go much lower. You might be able to receive sales tax exemptions, income tax credits or deductions from your state government also.
It’s true that the system will not come cheap. The cost of an active solar heating system starts from $30 to $80 per square foot of collector area installed. But your fuel bills will be reduced so much even just in the first month. You can even use it to heat water and to generate electricity. If you’re also environmentally responsible, it will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. So if you know that you’ll stay in the house for a long time, then invest in a system.
There are two basic types of active solar heating systems. One is liquid-based system that heats water or an antifreeze solution in a “hydronic” collector. The other one is air-based systems heat air in an “air collector.”
Even though these two systems differ in their fluid types, both of them collect and absorb solar radiation, then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system, from which the heat is distributed.
Usually, in home heating, these systems might not be able to provide enough space heating, an auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat. Often time, the liquid system is more used when storage is included, and is better suited for radiant heating systems, boilers with hot water radiators, and even absorption heat pumps and coolers. If you have forced air systems, both air and liquid systems are great supplements.
Basically, daylighting is solar lighting through the windows and skylights. You bring in the sunlight through windows and skylights. It can save you significant amount of energy and cut on electricity bills. Unless you live in an area that receives little sunlight throughout the year, most houses and building can benefit from daylighting. The other good thing about daylighting is that natural light is better for your health. Humans, animals, and plants all need sunlight.
Artificial lighting can never replace natural light from the Sun. So if you’re thinking about buying or building a new home, consider the options of daylighting. Many schools are encouraged to have large windows to help improving students’ grades and health.
Did you know that active solar heating system that is used all year long is the most cost effective? However, if you live in a cold climate but receive limited sunlight, or if you live in a very warm climate, an active solar heating system will not work well. We all know how expensive the heating oil is, and they fluctuate with the oil price. Other sources such as electricity, propane, natural gas are all more expensive than solar systems. If you’re looking to install solar heating system, check with your state. Some states offer sales tax exemptions, income tax credits or deductions, and property tax exemptions or deductions for solar energy systems.
It is definitely true the cost of an active solar heating system is high and caries from places to places. Commercial systems range from $30 to $80 per square foot of collector area, installed. Usually, the larger the system, the less it costs per unit of collector area.
One thing for sure is that heating your home with an active solar energy system can significantly reduce your fuel bills in the winter. A solar heating system will also reduce the amount of air pollution and greenhouse gases that result from your use of fossil fuels such as oil, propane, and natural gas for heating or that may be used to generate the electricity that you use.
If you live in the right climate for an active solar heating system, check with the supplier and installer and find out whether cost will be offset by the savings. It will certainly save you money, but you need to find out how many years it’ll take you to recoup the cost. Also if you might move in a few years, particularly in an uncertain economic time, you might take that into consideration.
Outdoor solar lights are very easy to install and virtually maintenance free. Plus they provide free electricity. You can purchase them at any home improvement stores. Most outdoor solar lights have solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. And then the electricity is stored in batteries to be used at night. The price of solar lights have become cheaper and cheaper. You can buy half dozen for around $25. They basically need no installment. Simply follow the instructions and place them wherever you would like to.
They will work in any areas as long as you receive adequate amount of sunlight during the day. You don’t need to live in a bright sunny area to enjoy solar lights.
Since outdoor solar lights have become so inexpensive, check with the manufacturer to see if replacement bulbs or batteries are available. Some units do not provide replacement options. In other words, they are pretty much one time use. Once the bulbs are out, you have to get new ones.
Image how cool it would be to heat up your pool using a solar swimming pool heater. Number one you can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs. The cost to install them is about the same as gas and heat pump pool heaters. But they have very low annual operating costs. Actually, solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar energy in many climates.
How they work is not that complicated:
- A solar collector — the device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
- A filter — removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
- A pump — circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
- A flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.
Talk to a contractor and see what they can offer.
Source: Department of Energy
Did you know that clear glass transmits up to 90% of solar radiation. It either absorbs or reflects only 10% of solar radiation.You would think since clear glass can transmit solar radiation in, it can also transmit it back. The beauty is that, it doesn’t, after solar radiation is transmitted through the glass and absorbed by the home, it is radiated again from the interior surfaces as infrared radiation.
Although glass allows solar radiation to pass through, it absorbs the infrared radiation. The glass then radiates part of that heat back to the home’s interior. In this way, glass traps solar heat entering the home. So that’s why many energy efficient homes have almost all glass walls or large windows.
Solar water heaters are great. They will save energy, money, and the environment. But before you buy and install a solar water heating system, you need to first consider your home’s solar resource. Not all homes are suitable for a solar water heater system. It all depends on how much sun light your home gets.
Solar water heating systems use both direct and diffuse solar radiation. Ideally, if you live in a sunny, dry, and warm climate, it’ll be great to install one. However, northern climate might still have enough solar resources. The most important is where your home is built. If it’s built in a heavily wooded area, then it’ll not work.
The best way for you to find out if not through guessing, but consulting a solar system supplier or installer. They’re trained professionals who can conduct a solar site analysis.