Solar Air Heater Basics
Harness the power of the sun and cut your utility bills all at the same time with a simple solar air heater. These heaters are designed to transfer sunlight into heat, which then channels throughout your home, warming it to cozier temperatures. The systems are highly simplistic and built to work with your existing heating systems to help cut your utility costs and heat things more effectively. It’s simple, it’s easy, and the heat provided by solar air heaters is pretty substantial as well.
The Benefits of Solar Air Heating
There are some pretty nice benefits to using solar air heating, even when compared to other solar heating options like solar water heating, but especially when compared to a fossil fuel furnace. One of the major benefits of the system is that it produces heat for you free of charge. You simply install the unit in your home by hooking up the lines and creating small holes in your wall or attaching it to your windows and you’ll enjoy heat produced nearly immediately. The only expense you’ll have while operating the system is the cost to run a fan, if you use an active system, and that cost will be very small.
Another benefit of solar air heating is the simplicity of the system. There aren’t any real pieces to maintain—just a box with a couple of attached air hoses and, in certain cases, a fan. The system will work well for years after being installed, and the only real maintenance will be cleaning the glass over time to make sure sunlight can shine in.
The system is also relatively affordable, and it’s even possible to tie air heaters into your existing central air setup to heat your entire home.
How Solar Air Heaters Work
A solar air heater is a highly simplistic system that works exactly like a greenhouse. Sunlight travels though the glass front panel of an insulated box and hits a black absorber layer within, which generates warmth to heat the box.
An air hose connects to two holes on the box—one that pulls in cool air to be heated, and another that sends out that warm air, creating a flow that heats the air as it passes through. Simple, right? Even better, several solar collector boxes can be attached for different levels of heat production.
Working without Fans with Passive Direct Gain
An air heating system will still work perfectly without a fan to push air through the system and back into the building again. That’s because the cool air will naturally flow into the unit to take the place of the hot air that’s pushed out and back into the room. That means that a simple air heater can be installed in a location even where there isn’t any electricity present to run a fan, and things like solar panels won’t be necessary to make the heater work in a remote location.
To make this type of a system work, the inlet must be at the bottom and the outlet at the top. It works by utilizing air’s natural tendency to rise once it’s been heated. That means that as the air warms up, it rises and leaves the system, making room for more cool air to enter and be heated as well. This creates a sort of air current that constantly pulls in new air to be warmed once again.
Considering Fan Assist with Active Direct Gain
While a fan-less system is perfectly adequate for heating up a small space or even a larger room when multiple units are used together, it simply isn’t effective enough to heat an entire home or a larger room. That’s because the heat won’t be dispersed far enough away from the heater, and one part of the room will be much warmer than the other.
Heating large spaces is much more effective when you rely on a fan-assisted system. A temperature-controlled fan kicks on when the box reaches a certain temperature and pumps cool air in and hot air out. There is often only a single fan at the outlet of the system, which disperses the heat throughout your home. As air is pumped out of the system, colder air is sucked into the inlet automatically, creating a stream of air to help spread heat throughout.
Solar air heaters are relatively simple to setup, and many people take to the task all on their own. There isn’t much that can go wrong if they aren’t set up properly, and the benefits of a good running heater are large.
Consider adding one to your home and you’ll enjoy free heat even during the cold months of winter. Best of all, every bit of heat you use represents less fuel that must be burnt, so you can feel good about adding your name to the growing list of solar users, thereby making sustainable energy the norm rather than the exception.