Solar thermal has been in use for centuries. The current technology makes these systems the most cost effective solar choice available. The collectors with their selective solar coatings turn the sunshine into heat. This heats the liquid running through the panels and transfers the heat to a solar storage tank. This large volume of hot water feeds into the cold inlet of your existing water heater, reducing or eliminating the need for any additional heating.
While the technology utilized by PV panels is somewhat complex, the idea is fairly simple. Solar Electricity is generated by a group of solar modules, called an array. When sunlight falls on the array a DC current is created. The current is fed into an inverter that changes it to standard AC electricity. You notice no difference in the way you use your electricity…just a much lower bill !
A solar pool heating system is one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to use solar energy. Solar pool systems produce thousands of dollars worth of energy every year, can pay for themselves in as little as 1.5 years, and are nearly maintenance free!
In New England, solar pool heating systems can easily produce pool temperatures in the eighties, and extend the swimming season by a few weeks in both the spring and fall.
The systems consist of three main components; solar panels, solar controller, and a motorized three way diverter valve. The solar panels mount on a roof or ground mount rack, the controller monitors the pool and collector temperatures and operates the, three way valve which diverts the water flow into the solar panels.
Solar Space Heating is another application where a solar thermal system can be very effective. The systems are generally larger, yet similar in design to a solar hot water system.
The collector count and storage sizing (concrete slab, water tank or even no storage) is based on the buildings heat load needs instead of hot water usage. Radiant floors or fan convection heaters are most effective for transferring the heat into the building.
Due to the larger number of collectors required for space heating, these systems are often designed to accommodate non-heating season loads such as hot water or even supplemental pool heating.
Space heating systems work best in buildings that have been designed with higher levels of thermal efficiency. Drafty, poorly insulated, older buildings will generally lose the heat as fast as it is being produced and should be air sealed and insulated before designing and adding a solar space heating system.