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Solar Heating Panels

Air Movement
Hot air rises and cold air falls. This concept of air movement, called natural convection, is important in any space heating project no matter what fuel is used. Wood stoves are superior to fireplaces in heating mainly because the stove causes a convection current of air throughout the room or building. Most fireplaces only radiate heat into the immediate area. Although this concept is ignored in designing many modern fossil fueled heating systems, it is an integral part of all successful solar heating installations. If a solar heating system works with natural convection, hot air rising and cold air falling, then the result in comfort level can exceed expectations.

The Installation
Almost everyone today only lives in half their house - the bottom half. We need heat the most when the weather is cold and we are sedentary (sitting or lying down). In any building with little air movement the air tends to stagnate or stratify. Air temperature rises approximately 1°F. per foot. The ceiling of an A-frame house can be 20 to 25° hotter than the floor. Any good space heating system is designed around the fact that we live near the floor and the heat is at the ceiling.

The cold air inlet to the heating system is the key to efficiency and comfort. To heat any given space, the cold air must be removed and circulated through the heater; therefore, the inlet must be ducted so it is on or near the floor. If the inlet is placed on the ceiling, the heater will tend to recirculate the hot air and leave the floor cold. The hot air supply may be placed at the ceiling or on the floor with little difference in performance. If placed on the floor, the hot air rises to the ceiling within a short distance. Since collectors are normally installed on the roof of the building being heated, it is best to place the hot air outlet in the ceiling to shorten the duct run. A system installed in this manner de-stratifies, or mixes, the air in a building like a ceiling fan, in addition to supplying solar heat.


The orientation of air collectors for heating in the winter is the same as given in Basic Design section. The collector should face within 30° of true south and tilted at an angle of latitude plus 15°.

Energy Storage
The main niche for air collectors in the solar industry is supplying 25 to 50% of required energy for space heating. Additional storage is not required in most cases. A normal, well insulated house has enough interior mass alone to store enough heat for three to four hours after sundown, if the temperature is raised 10°F. (i.e.., 68° starting, 78° ending). More massive construction, such as adobe or brick, can store even more thermal energy. Due to their complexity, large rock and water storage systems are rarely cost-effective. They often require extraordinary maintenance.

The best features of air collector systems are simplicity and reliability. The collectors are relatively simple devices. A well-made blower can be expected to have a 10 to 20 year life span if properly maintained, and the controls are extremely reliable. Since air will not freeze, no heat exchanger is required. By using packaged insulated flex duct, the installation can be accomplished by anyone with a little mechanical ability. All this adds up to a quick payback on the cost of the equipment and gives you years of warmth with safe clean solar heated air.


Solar Hot Water Heating Made Simple


The Sunbather

TANK: Glass Lined
INSULATION: 2" Polyisocyanurate, Foil Faced.
CONSTRUCTION: Welded steel frame with brown baked enamel aluminum skin.
GLAZING: Two layers of textured, low iron tempered glass.
PLUMBING: Two 3/4" M.I.P. fittings.
DIMENSIONS: 36" X 78" X 26" Deep
DRY WEIGHT: 150 lbs.
FULL WEIGHT: 450 lbs.

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Utility Interactive Photovoltaic System

Residential Solutions Overview

Residential Solar System - Denver Metro AreaThe most common solar (photovoltaic, or "PV") power system today is utility-interconnected or "grid-tied", with no batteries or backup storage capacity. A grid-tied PV system seamlessly integrates your solar-generated electricity with utility-provided electricity to power your home. You essentially become the owner of a silent, ultra-reliable, low-maintenance power plant located at your own home. The utility becomes your servant and even pays you, rather than the other way around!

The explosive growth in solar over the past few years is almost entirely in the grid-tied market - that is, the mainstream application of solar electricity to utility-powered homes. One of the key drivers of the explosion in grid-tie solar is the advent of net metering policies. By law, utilities are required to purchase solar-generated electricity from your grid-tie system. This means that on sunny days when your solar system is generating more electricity than your home or business needs, the excess is fed back into the utility line and you are paid full price for the electricity you are selling.

By installing a solar electric system you are also providing clean solar energy to your neighbors. Since electricity follows the path of least resistance, any excess that you generate on sunny afternoons will first supply your closest neighbor's home with clean solar electricity. This happens automatically and with no effort on anybody's part. Your decision to go solar helps green the whole neighborhood while you get paid for it!

How A Residential Solar System Works

Energy from a PV system is produced whenever the sun is shining. Any solar power first supplies the load - your refrigerator, washer, or computer - in your home. Excess electricity is fed onto the utility grid, spinning your utility meter backward. The actual electricity will likely be used by your neighbors, and you will be credited for all the energy you send onto the grid. Like depositing into a checking account, you will be "banking electrons" for later use. Drawing electricity from the grid in the evenings or when the sunlight is insufficient spins the utility meter forward. The system knows when to switch between utility power and solar power and does so with no interruption whatsoever. The solar electricity flows through and works with the same house wiring, lighting and appliances that you already have. You have a small renewable energy electricity generating station at your home, and have a relationship with the utility that allows you to push or pull energy from the grid as needed.

Depending on your site conditions, energy usage patterns, and system size, your solar-generated electricity will provide anywhere from 10% to 100% of your annual power needs; 50% to 80% is typical. Once you have purchased your PV system, the solar energy is free. This means that for the life of your solar system, you won't need to worry about utility rate hikes for the portion of your electricity supplied by your PV system.

Solar modules are wired together and mounted on your roof or on the ground . The solar modules convert sunlight directly into electrical power. This power runs from the solar modules through a safety disconnect to an inverter , usually located in your garage or an outside wall. The inverter converts DC (direct current) power generated by the solar modules to clean AC (alternating current) power used in your home.

If you live in Colorado, wires connect your inverter to a special solar utility meter called a REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) meter that tracks the solar energy output. Wires run from this meter to a dedicated breaker in your main breaker panel. The REC meter tracks the power produced by your solar power system before it reaches the breaker panel, meaning that you are credited for your clean power whether you use it in your home or send it into the utility lines.

The solar power becomes another source of power for your house, generating electricity that first supplies the electric loads in your home with power. When you generate excess power, the excess is fed back onto the grid, spinning your regular utility meter backward and crediting you for future use. When your solar system generates less electricity (due to cloudy days or evenings or excess household use), your utility company supplies you with the rest. The regular utility meter tracks the net power supplied by the grid. The typical grid-tied system is battery-less and maintenance free.

If there is a power outage during the day the solar system automatically shuts down, meaning that even if the sun is shining you will not have power during an outage. This is because your PV system feeds into the same breaker panel that is served by utility power. In order to prevent your solar energy from backfeeding into the grid and injuring a utility lineworker, your inverter must instantly shut down. Once utility power is restored, the inverter checks for steady power and reconnects after five minutes.

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