How Do Solar Heating And Cooling Work?

Solar heating and cooling is basically the use of the heat energy of the sun to provide hot water, space heating, cooling, and pool heating both in residential as well as in commercial set ups. The best thing about solar heating and cooling is that it does away with the use of other forms of fuel or electrical energy. Solar energy is a greener form of energy having zero negative effect on the environment. Hence, today a lot of Americans across the country are busy finding out more number of ways to manufacture and install ways to nurture solar energy instead of using other scarce forms of energy.

The use of solar energy naturally reduces the electricity as well as the utility bill of people. However, the applications which are now possible with the help of solar energy are:.

• Solar water heating
• Solar space heating
• Solar cooling
• Solar pool heating

The next question that comes in mind is how solar heating and cooling work does. Basically, the solar heating and cooling system traps heat from the sun’s radiation and transfers it to the water or air to be used as thermal energy. Here, it must be noted that though both SHC and solar photo voltaic system require collector panels, they are very different from one another.

Solar water heating is quite common in the US and can be installed in the homes as well. The entire installation process just requires a day. There are two types of solar water heating system. They are the active system that relies on the electric pump for the circulation of the water and the passive system that uses thermodynamics for the circulation of the water. It has been seen that active solar water heating systems are commoner in both the residential and commercial establishments of the US.

The three main components of the solar water heater are the solar collector, insulated piping and a hot water storage tank. Besides, an electronic control and a freezing protection system can also be included in the system. In this system the solar radiation hits the solar collector; the solar collector in turn absorbs the heat and transfers it to the potable water that is in the system. The water flows out from the collector to a hot water tank and is available on demand.

Another important usage of solar heating is to heat swimming pools of both residential and commercial buildings. In case of swimming pool heating, the pool filtration system can be used to transfer heat from the pool collectors to the pool water. It must be mentioned here that solar pool heating system uses different collectors depending on the location of the pool.

Solar space heating on the other hand is more or less similar to solar water heating process. However, the difference between the two lies in the fact solar space heating requires more solar collectors, large storage unit and a more sophisticated design. For solar space heating either water that is free from all sorts of toxic materials or air is used as a medium of heat transfer from the solar collector. In the next step the heated air or water is circulated throughout the desired building to provide adequate space heating.

There is another mode of solar space heating as well. In this method transpired solar collectors along the building’s south facing wall are used. The perforations present in the collector allow the air to pass through and be heated. Once the air gets heated the hot air is channeled into the ventilation system of the building.

Solar cooling is another possibility with the thermal energy absorbed from the sun. There are two types of solar cooling system available. They are the desiccant system and the absorption chiller systems. In the desiccant system the air passes over a common desiccant or a “drying material” like the silica gel that absorbs excess moisture from the air and makes it more comfortable. The desiccant on the other hand is regenerated by using solar heat which is used to dry it.

While the absorption chiller process is more common than the desiccant system. In this process solar water heat collectors along with a thermal chemical absorption process is used to produce an air conditioning effect without the use of electricity. Interestingly, this process is a lot similar to the function of refrigerator, the only difference being it does not use any compressor instead the absorption chiller system is initiated by a heated fluid from the solar collector.

It has been noticed that the establishment cost of solar heating and cooling systems are comparatively higher than the conventional systems of heating and cooling but at the same time the operational costs are quite less. To put it simply, the return on investment in case of solar heating and cooling systems is quite slow. But in the long run solar heating and cooling systems is more conducive for the environment. The common commercial uses of solar water heating and cooling technology include space heating, cooling and water heating. Similarly, the buildings in which this technology seems more feasible include manufacturing plants, military facilities, large residential buildings, houses for the elderly, hotels, student housing, hospitals, sports centers and the like.

The future of this technology is highly promising and so it is desirable that more investments are made towards this technology keeping in mind the welfare of the environment.

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