electricity generation » solar power » home solar power heating - Information on heating your home using solar power.

Solar Power: Home Heating

The sun's energy is ideal for warming both water and enclosed areas, as anyone who has experienced a hot summer's day can attest. There are several different methods for harnessing the sun's power for the purposes of heating and in many cases it is feasible to use a combination of these methods to achieve full self-sufficiency. Solar hot water panels, combisystems, active and passive solar heating, solar chimneys and the harnessing of thermal mass are all legitimate ways of heating both homes and water. The infrastructure you utilize for your home will depend on the architecture and positioning of the home itself, the climate you live in, and the budget you have at your disposal. While it would be ideal to be able to have as many eco-friendly heating methods in place as possible this is not always feasible.

Solar Water Heaters

Perhaps the most popular solar heating technology available for home-owners is the solar hot water system. The basic technology of a solar water heating system utilizes a panel - usually mounted on a roof or positioned in a sunlit area - and a hot-water storage tank. The panel will have some form of piping that is heated by the sun's rays, warming the liquid that the piping contains. In simplistic systems the liquid within the pipes will be the water itself, whilst in others it will be a heat-conductive fluid (if this is the case the piping will run through the hot water tank, heating the water contained within).

Some solar hot water systems are completely carbon neutral whilst others use a small amount of mains power to run the pump which circulates the fluid through the heating panel piping. In all cases the use of a solar hot water unit can greatly reduce the reliance on mains power, cutting your annual energy bill and reducing your impact on the environment.

Solar Air Heating

Solar heating is another possibility worth considering and can be combined with your hot water heating system for further efficiency. There are two main types of solar space heating, determined as either passive or active technologies. Passive solar heating revolves around the concept of intelligent architectural design, using the positioning of the building, the materials used to construct the building, and the natural circulation of air and heat within the building to contain heat.

Solar chimneys (sometimes referred to as thermal chimneys) are an example of this passive technology - they encourage air held in the solar chimney void to be heated and then circulated throughout the rest of the building structure.

The other classification of solar heating, active solar heating, involves the circulation of air through a solar panel heating system and back into the internal spaces in need of heating, usually with the help of a pump or fan. Active solar heating is very similar to solar hot water generation and can easily be combined into what is known as a 'combisystem', a system which uses piping and panelling to achieve both space and water heating.

Availability And Installation

Most of the systems discussed above can be bought from hardware stores or from specialist heating businesses. Whilst not impossible to install yourself they require a certain degree of construction and plumbing competency and it is advisable that you seek the help of the company you purchase the system from for installation.