- Last Updated: May 16, 2012
Regardless of what you may think or what you may have heard; solar energy isn’t just for generating or producing electricity to light up your home. If you believe that solar solely runs electricity then your beliefs are faulty.
Though you cannot produce hot water with regular solar panels that bring electricity to your “solar-fied” residence, you can produce energy to heat your home through other solar heating methods or means, and all work in adjacent to the solar electrical resources.
Just because you are living out in the wilderness doesn’t mean that you can’t have hot water when you want or need it. Again, all you have to do is get practical with resources that come naturally out of the sky. No, I am not talking about the moon, the stars or the clouds. The resource that will connect you to hot water for the basic use of showering, cooking, doing the laundry or washing dishes is the sun. Just like the radiance of the sun can bring electrical power to your home, it can also bring heat at a cheaper and more effective rate. You can “go green” when it comes to heating your home and have hot water when you want it.
Solar heating systems, also referred to as solar thermal systems, are made of solar thermal collectors. In this system is a fluid line which moves the heat from the collector and sends it to its point destination.
The basic solar heating system will pump the heated fluid and when there is an unused portion of water, it is sent to a reserve tank that is used for heat storage. How does that sound for not wasting your money? On a good sunny day, the water can heat up to 140 degrees. How does that sound for a hot cozy bath?
When it comes to solar water heating, you have two systems to choose from and these systems are either direct or indirect.
Let’s look at each to see how they can benefit your particular needs.
With the Direct Solar Heating System, the system gathers the sun’s heat in collectors. It also uses pipes which are filled with water. These pipes are then connected to an insulated storage tank. As the sun heats the pipe fixtures, the water then flows into the tank, ready for you to tap into it.
Though these systems are efficient, they do need more maintenance up keep done to them to keep mineral deposits from forming on the pipes.
Direct Thermal Systems work best in warm climates because there is no threat of freezing - which could cause another problem for homeowners. So, as you can see, if you are living in Alaska, this particular option will not work well for you. However; if you live in California or Florida, for instance, then this direct thermal heating system could just be the answer to your prayers.
The second option at your disposal is Indirect Solar Water System. In this system, water is not heated directly as it is in the direct system. Instead, fluid is used to absorb energy from the sun. Indirect heating soaks up rays of the sun and transfers it to heated pipes which have a thin copper laminate on the back of them.
These are your choices in having hot water by way of a solar system that uses the sun for collecting energy to radiate electricity and produce heat. As you can see, where there is a will; there is a way to outsmart the high cost of living when it comes to necessities.
Now that you know it is possible to have electricity and hot water through solar energy, another question surfaces itself in our heads. Is it possible to heat our homes with solar energy as well?
As long as the sun can shine, we can have a resource that is available to us on a daily basis. There are even ways for us to get the resource on cloudy days by way of back-up systems. As far as energy from the sun to heat up our homes, that concept is possible too, all because of “Radiant Heating Systems.”
You may have seen some of these in Extreme Home Make Over, or in Modern Home Magazine.
If you are living in an older home, or a cabin in the woods, you might heat your home with the help of a fire place, or your home may have an outdated radiator system that needs updating. Well, you are in luck because there are solar water systems that are made specifically for heating homes; taking the place of big, bulky furnaces with huge energy costs coming from your local gas company.
A radiant heating system is connected to a water system that runs under the floors of your house. Sometimes, they are even connected to wall panel radiators. With this new and modern day technology the heat is radiated up through the floor boards. How comfy it must be to step out of a shower in the midst of winter only to find yourself standing on warm floors! It can’t get any better than that.
In order to have this system constructed in your home, you must have a large storage tank to store up to at least 2-3 gallons of water for every square foot of the solar collector. This water is then piped through plastic tubing under your floors. This is the perfect solution for heat because it is cost effective.
The advantage of this kind of system is that it will allow you to regulate the heat that radiates into the rooms of your home, because each room will house its own thermostat.
This is another system that you can create yourself if you don’t want to hire a professional; these days everything comes practically as ready made kits for the consumer. After all, it’s all about saving money with today’s economy.