Take advantage of solar energy and cut your utility bills all at the same time by installing solar air heaters. Solar air heaters are designed to transfer sunlight into heat, which then circulates throughout your home, warming it to cozier temperatures. Conveniently, these solar heating systems are highly simplistic and built to work with your existing HVAC systems, such as your gas furnace or heat pump unit.
Benefits of Solar Air Heating
There are several benefits to installing solar air heating systems, especially when compared to a gas furnace that uses fossil fuels.
1. Essentially costless energy supply
One of the major benefits of the system is that it produces heat for your home essentially free of charge. Most homeowners will pay $1,000 or more each year to heat their home, depending on location. With a solar powered air heater, your heat energy supply is essentially free – you can replace your costly gas heating system with solar, or supplement it as needed.
The only expense you’ll have while operating the system is the cost to run a fan if you use an active system, but that cost will be very small. In fact, solar air heaters are one of the most affordable solar energy systems for the home.
2. Simple installation and maintenance
Another benefit of solar air heating is the simplicity of the system. 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. Then, you can enjoy heat produced nearly immediately.
Additionally, there are very few components of the heating system to maintain. The solar air heater consists of just a box with a couple of attached air hoses and, in certain cases, a fan. The system works well for years after being installed, and the only real maintenance will be cleaning the glass over time to make sure sunlight is accessible.
3. Connects to existing HVAC system
Solar air heaters can be added to your home’s existing central air setup in order to heat your entire home. This mean you don’t have to pay to replace your existing heating and air conditioning system or layout. You can simply have the solar air heating system installed and enjoy lower utility costs.
How Do Solar Air Heaters Work?
A solar air heater is a simplistic system that works similarly as a solar water heater. 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. This creates a flow that heats the air as it passes through. Even better, several solar collector boxes can be attached for different levels of heat production, depending on the needs of your home.
How Much Do Solar Air Heaters Cost?
The cost of a solar air heater depends on the size of the heating system, the size of the room(s) that need to be heated, and the system’s heating capacity.
On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $900 – $5,000 to install a solar air heater. A heating system that is being used to heat a smaller room will cost towards the lower end of the price range, while heating multiple large rooms in a home will result in a costlier installation.
According to solar energy experts, most homeowners can expect to see a return on their investment for a solar air heater within 5-7 years following the installation, due to lower energy bills. Compare this to a gas heating system, which typically takes 6-15 years to see the same return on investment.
Ways to Utilize Solar-Powered Heating Systems
A solar air heating system will still work without a fan to push air through the system and back into the building again. This is 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. 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.
Keep in mind that some homeowners choose to use a combination of passive energy and solar-powered fans in order to effectively heat their home, depending on the season.
Solar Heating Fan Assist & 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. 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.
Installing a Solar Air Heater
Solar air heaters are relatively simple to setup, and many homeowners take to the task all on their own. A simple solar air heater can typically be installed by a handy homeowner. However, keep in mind that the solar collectors required can be large and heavy – as much as 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Solar air heating systems sometimes require a permit, and if they are heavy enough, they need to be installed on the roof. This larger solar air heater project would require the work of a solar professional.
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. Consequently, 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.