How to heat a house with solar thermal energy

How to heat a house with solar thermal energyImage Shutterstock

The maintenance of a heated dwelling, in particular the less energy-efficient ones, entails a significant cost, both in emissions into the atmosphere and in energy expenditure. For this reason, opting for solar energy to maintain the temperature of homes and, why not, to provide hot water, solves both problems at once. However, sometimes it is not so easy to take the first step.

How does solar thermal energy work, what can it offer and, moreover, what types of solar collectors exist?


The keys to the operation of a solar thermal system.

Compared to conventional photovoltaic panels, which capture the energy of the sun to convert it into alternating current, solar thermal systems have many advantages, what they do is take advantage of the heat of the radiation to air-condition a house or to heat domestic hot water, among other potential uses, in addition to heating a swimming pool for example.

To achieve the above, many equipments are required in a solar thermal energy utilization system. However, betting on it will bring benefits, both for the environment and for the owner. Just take a look at the invoices to understand it.

About half of the cost is produced directly by heating. Thus, advocating thermal solar energy, alone or with the support of a back-up system, drastically reduce energy costs of any dwelling.

Most common solar collectors.

What happens is that entering this world and choosing well is not always easy, since there are many aspects to take into account. So, when you start to delve into solar energy, you discover that it goes far beyond photovoltaics and that there are many types of solar panels.

Something similar happens when attention is focused on the sun as an alternative to air conditioning a home. Suddenly, by becoming familiar with solar collectors, we begin to dive into a whole world of types of thermal panels in which it will not be uncommon to get lost.

However, for home use, it will be necessary to pay attention to the following two options:

  1. Flat solar thermal system. It is one of the most common and oldest, since its use dates back to the middle of the 20th century. Composed of a plate for dark-colored absorption, an insulating cover and a fluid that carries the heat from the plate to the water tank, This mechanism is the least expensive. and is considered suitable for any type of climate. However, as a weakness, its low efficiency is generally singled out, at least compared to other alternatives.
  2. Vacuum tube panels. This is another option for domestic use of thermal energy with greater penetration into homes. In this case, the system is composed of collectors inserted in vacuum tubes and therefore avoid heat loss. This is in fact one of the most obvious differential points between this option and the previous one, in which losses are more frequent. In addition to being exceptional in this respect, evacuated tube collectors are generally much more efficient, although this comes with a higher cost of installation and maintenance.

Flat or evacuated tube thermal sensor?

As with almost everything, when faced with this dilemma, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as there are many factors to consider in a decision of these features.

The initial investment capacity, personal preferences or the availability of space to place the systems are, without a doubt, aspects that must influence any decision. In this one, the hours of exposure to the sun will also be a factor to consider.

Other components of a solar thermal installation.

Another aspect to take into account is that, to take advantage of what solar energy can bring to air conditioning, the sensors will only be part of the system.

Aside from the valves and pumps that promote the movement of fluid through the system, a key part of what this can mean for the feasibility of installing this system in the home will be the hot water tank.

At this stage, it must be taken into account that, to cover the needs of two people, a deposit of approximately 150 liters will be required. The larger the family, the more capacity the tank should have, and with that, the more space available in the house to place it.

The tank will therefore be another aspect to take into account when designing a solar thermal system for domestic use, which will also require having sufficient and adequate space to place the panels and make the most of a source of heat. inexhaustible and clean energy, like sunlight.

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