Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Incorporating a Solar Energy System into a Green Home (Part 2)

Our last blog on renewable energy explained how you can heat your green home through passive solar design and/or an active heating system, as well as generate electricity through solar power with a photovoltaic system. You can also heat water for your home or swimming pool. How?

Heating your home:
Solar water heaters can be used in any climate. There are two choices for solar water heating systems – passive and active. Active systems have circulating pumps and controls; passive systems do not. Solar water heating systems usually require one or two storage tanks and use one of three types of collectors: flat plate collectors, integral collector-storage systems, or evacuated-tube solar collectors. Again, there are different kinds of each system. Active solar heating systems are more common than passive.

Active Solar Heating systems can be either direct or indirect circulation systems. A direct system works well in moderate climates where it rarely freezes. Indirect circulating systems are more common, and pump an anti-freeze through collectors and a heat exchanger, which then heats the water that flows through the home.

Passive Solar Heating systems
are not as common, but studies show they are more reliable and are less expensive than active solar heating systems. Two basic types of passive systems are available: integral collector-storage systems and thermosyphon systems.

o Integral collector-storage systems are typically used in areas with above-freezing temperatures and in households that have significant daytime and evening hot-water needs.

o Thermosyphon systems – water flows through a collector to a storage tank above it, where warm water rises as cooler water sinks. These are usually more expensive than integral collector-storage systems, and the storage tank on the roof must be taken into consideration structurally and aesthetically.

Heating your swimming pool:
If you’re planning to heat your swimming pool, solar is the way to go. They’re not only comparable in cost to gas and heat pumps, they are effective in most areas of the country. Most systems include collectors, a filter, a pump, and a flow control valve. The theory is fairly simple: pool water flows to the filter then to the solar collector, where the water is heated and returned to the pool. In warmer climates, the system can cool the water by circulating the water at night. One topic to research & consider is that heating pool water usually does not qualify for rebates.

Bonin Architects & Associates is happy to answer any questions you might have about incorporating a solar energy system into your home! Our partners at The Clear Mountain Solar Store are ready to help, too! Up next in our solar blog series is lighting the inside and outside of your home.

Jackie Lampiasi, Marketing Director
Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC

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