Solar Energy For Homes – A Basic Overview For Home DIY Enthusiasts

Getting our energy requirements for the sun is not new; we have been using the suns energy to heat water since the 1800s. What is new though is the fact that solar collectors have become economically viable for us to use them in our homes and factories on a scale only imagined then.

Solar power can possibly meet all your home power needs. Where you live, the design of the system and collector size will all influence the amount of energy that can be provided to heat or light your home.

Solar heaters come in a variety of styles, configurations, performance levels and of course complexity and costs. To heat water they may have a back up in place like gas or electricity for the times when there is little or no sunshine as well as the collector, storage tank, circulating pump and controls.

Types of Solar Energy for Homes Systems:

  1. There are basically two types of heating system, both use solar collectors, both have storage tanks, but the forced circulation system will need a pump to circulate the heated water to the storage tank. Most domestic systems are like this.
  2. A passive system uses the fact that hot water rises so generally the storage tank is above the solar collector, using the natural convection of water flow to move the warmed water to the storage tank.

There are several types of collector, many can be acquired in kit form or made from plans available from commercial Solar Energy suppliers and on the internet.

  1. A simple kind of solar collector is the flat plate type. It might consist of copper pipes in a rectangular painted box. As solar energy falls on the box it warms the water in the pipes before it is transferred to the storage tank.
  2. The evacuated tube collector is another type where the tubes are enclosed in structures similar to vacuum flasks to minimise the loss of heat from the system, increasing the efficiency and cost savings.
  3. There is an all in one solar energy for homes collector that also stores the heated water ready for use within the collector. Also known as a batch water heater, they are great for smaller houses and warm climates where there is no risk of freezing.

Most solar collectors are mounted on the roofs of buildings, out of shady areas cast by trees and tall buildings. Solar energy water systems can be used for all domestic hot water needs, including domestic, pool heating and industrial needs.