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Should I Install an Active Or Passive Solar Heating System?

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By : Andy Groves    99 or more times read
The sun provides more than enough free energy everyday to completely eliminate the need to burn fossil fuels if we could harvest it. This solar energy comes to us in many forms and solar heating is one of the ways we can harness this free resource to lower our dependence on other less-renewable fuels.

Solar heating is an efficient way to heat your home using nothing more than sunlight as fuel. Most solar heating systems are typically divided into passive or active systems and each of them can be used independently, or combined for an ever better solution. Passive systems use the sunlight directly to heat your home and rely on large windows facing east to collect this sunlight. They require no additional equipment to function and do a great job of completely heating a home if they are sized and installed correctly. Active solar heating systems utilize a more sophisticated collection and storage system for heating your home and can be added to any home to replace its conventional heating. There are several different types of active solar heating systems and understanding how both of these solutions operate will help you choose the perfect system for your needs.

In a passive solar heating system, the home is heated directly by sunlight during the day. This sunlight typically enters the dwelling though a series of large and well insulated windows on the eastern side of the house. The amount of sunlight allowed into the home is controlled by a collection of blinds to help regulate the temperature. This warm sunlight can help to heat the space in two ways. It will directly heat the air in the home as it passes through the windows and will also heat any wall or floor surface it contacts. In most passive solar heating systems, these surfaces are typically treated with a material that will retain this heat for use later that evening when it can be slowly released to heat the home.

An active solar heating system is normally a little more complicated and is divided into either a liquid based system or one that heats the air used in the home directly. Simpler direct heat systems have a series of solar thermal collectors mounted on the roof of the home that allow the sun to heat the air contained in them and this air is then circulated through the home to warm it.

This type of system is most effective in temperate climates and can do a great job of heating a smaller home. A liquid based solar heating system employ a similar solar collector, but instead circulates a liquid through the collector grid to capture the heat. The advantage of using this liquid is that the excess heat collected can be stored in a holding tank for use later that evening when the sun has set.

Air based systems are only operational during the day and conventional heating must be used in the evening to supplement them. In the liquid based system, this heated liquid is circulated through radiant heating tubes located in the floor or walls of the home and gently heat the rooms. This is a very efficient and effective way to lower your energy costs by allowing the sun to help heat your home with one of these solar heating systems.
We are one of the most accredited suppliers of solar water heating systems in the UK. Visit our website to see examples and find out more.

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