Solar Heater Basics
Here’s something to think about: the energy from our sun is so abundant that in a single day, the earth has access to thousands of times more energy than it requires to meet its every need. Still need a reason to upgrade your traditional heater to one that runs on solar energy?
Solar heaters are designed to convert energy from sunlight into energy that heats our air and water. And although they’ve been used in one way or another for thousands of years, their popularity plummeted back when fossil fuel furnaces took over. But now those fossil fuels are more expensive and less abundant, and as a more environmentally concerned world, we’re looking for ways to curb their usage as much as possible. Fortunately, solar heaters are back again and—being the more ecologically and financially friendly option—undoubtedly here to stay.
Benefits of Solar Heaters
The main benefit of any solar heater is that it won’t cost you much to run. Whether you’re planning to heat your water or air, thanks to a solar heater, you’ll no longer need to spend money on fuel. At most, you’ll have to pay to run a pump or fan for the system, but that cost is very affordable compared to running a furnace.
In addition to its affordability, these heaters release hardly any pollution. The only pollution they create is when the materials used to construct the systems are built at factories, most of which rely on fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas to do the job.
Solar heaters are also relatively low maintenance. Most heaters don’t require much maintenance, and at the most you can expect to change out liquids, or replace some hoses, pipes, and seals once in awhile.
The Types of Solar Heaters
There are a few different types of solar heaters, and they’re each designed for a specific application. The main types of heaters are water heaters, air heaters, and pool heaters. Each is used widely around the world, and each has a different purpose.
A solar water heater is used for showering, bathing, and washing laundry. It relies on solar collectors to convert sunlight into heat that’s transferred to the water in your home. As the sun beats down on the collectors—or insulated containers with dark colored absorbers—they heat up, warming the water that passes through them and then flows to a storage tank to await usage.
Water heaters are very affordable to run since they rely almost entirely on sunlight, and they require minimal maintenance to run.
A solar pool heater relies on the same concepts as a home water heater, but it’s installed straight to the existing filter piping. As water is pumped through the filter, it’s then pushed up through an array of solar collectors and slowly flows back down into the pool again. The water is not only filtered, but heated, too, and the pool is warmed over time. Since the system makes use of the filter, the pump, and the existing lines already and only adds to the pool filter system, it’s quite affordable and can be added easily.
For someone looking to heat a single room, or a smaller space such as a garage, a solar air heater is a reliable choice. An air heater is essentially an insulated box with a glass front and a dark colored absorber within. As sunlight shines on the box, it heats up inside, and an air line going to the box pumps cooler air from the room into the box for heating. That hot air then flows back into room, raising the temperature to a more comfortable level. It’s a simple system that offers a stable supply of heat during direct sunlight. While air will naturally flow through the lines on its own without a fan or pump, an exhaust fan is typically employed to speed up air flow even more.
Adding a Heater to Your Home
Besides improving the sustainability of your home and slashing high utility bills, there’s yet another perk to using a solar water heater: they’re relatively easy to add. By utilizing an expert installer, you can find out which option is right for you, how big of a system you’ll need, and the overall cost for equipment and installation.
Working with a Professional
Since most solar heaters are difficult to install for a novice, and also require quite a bit of expertise for proper functioning, it’s advisable to work with a professional when getting one of them set up in your home. Not only will a professional save you time when going through the process, but they will also ensure a flawless installation, in addition to making sure your system is large enough to achieve your intended goal. Since all of this will require considerable experience and careful planning, it will cost more than building and installing a system yourself, but you’ll have the peace of mind to know that the job was done right.
Solar heating isn’t new by any means, but modern technology expands on its capabilities impressively. If you’re looking for a way to cut energy costs and enjoy the same level of comfort that you’re used to—while making the environmentally sound choice—solar heating is the right solution for you.
Here are some other helpful articles to prepare you for your solar panel installation project.