Home Solar Heating and Cooling

You can effectively heat your home with solar radiant heat, passive solar heat, and solar air heat or cool your home with a solar absorption system or solar desiccant system. But wait…let me guess, solar heating and cooling isn’t the first thing that pops into your head when you think of solar energy, right? You are like me and immediately think solar panels just provide renewable electricity. Well electricity is only part of what solar can do for you and your home. Now don’t forget about solar hot water systems, too; but, here I would like to educate you about using solar energy to heat or cool your home.

Now there are a variety of home solar heating and cooling system available, so depending on your local climate you will have different heating or cooling requirement and therefore need a certain type of system.

Take a look at the home solar powered systems explained below to get a sense of what type of system you might require to meet your heating/cooling needs.

Solar Home Cooling Systems

I know what you are thinking right now how can the Sun’s energy, usually thought of as heat, be used to cool my home? Well it can be, and since the average American home spends half of it’s energy heating and cooling the home, there is a huge potential for reducing those high energy bills.

Solar power cooling systems use thermally activated cooling system (TCAS) technology to cool your home and typically come in two types: absorption or desiccant technologies.

For more information on these two types of systems click here for solar absorption and solar desiccant systems.

Solar Home Heating Systems

Typically we think that solar power can only be used to generate clean, renewable electricity for home electronics and appliances, but surprisingly its uses are quite diverse. Solar can be used to heat your home, and I don’t mean by generating electricity to power your home air conditioning unit.

Solar heating comes in two forms passive and active, not to be confused with the passive and active system descriptions used for solar hot water systems.

Passive Solar Heating: When referring to home solar heating, “passive” refers to the features incorporated in to the overall home design that use the sun’s energy to heat the home without the use of any type of mechanical systems.

These design features include direct and indirect gains by using materials which easily absorb solar energy and then release it slowly throughout the rest of the day. Concrete and tile are perfect examples of materials that exhibit these types of characteristics. These materials can be installed in the living space itself (direct, think concrete floors) or adjacent to the living space (indirect, think concrete exterior walls).

There are also isolated gain designs where heat-absorbing materials are installed in a space remote to the living spaces to collect heated air which is then funneled to the rest of the home by way of convection.

Active Solar Heating: Like solar hot water systems, active solar heating uses solar collectors to absorb the sun’s energy then pump that heat throughout the home using fans and/or pumps.

There are two types of active solar heating systems which use different heat transfer mediums: air used for solar air heat and water used in solar radiant heat systems. Both systems use their respective heat transfer medium to absorb heat in the collector, which is used to heat the air and circulated throughout the home.

For more information on solar air heat click here and for solar radiant heat click here.