With this solar air heater guide, the homeowner can make informed decisions about using solar space heating. In many areas, the heating of the home can require a significant amount of the family budget but there are ways to minimize the expense. The easiest way to lower the cost is by using resources that are free to supplement or even replace those that we must pay for. The largest resource the world has for providing energy is the sun and we get to use it for free.
The basic solar furnace consists of a panel with a material to absorb the energy from the sun.
This energy is usually transferred directly to the air in the home. The air can be moved naturally through convection or by the use of a fan. Most systems will use a small fan to circulate the air as this provides a greater heat output than natural circulation.
The fan can be powered by the home's electric system or through a built-in photovoltaic panel. The air can be taken from the inside of the home or can be drawn from the outside and provide ventilation at the same time. In either case, the air is pulled into the bottom of the collector where it passes over the absorber and gains heat. The heated air is then blown out into the room. The system is usually controlled by a thermostat that monitors the room temperature, the collector temperature, or both.
These systems can be relatively inexpensive and can even be a DIY project. One disadvantage is the fact that they do not produce heat during the coldest part of the day which is usually after the sun goes down.
Another option is to install a solar water heater that has a storage tank with more than one heat exchanger. In this case, the water that was heated by the sun is stored in the tank and can transfer some of its heat to a hydronic heating system. These systems will be more expensive but they can store heat during the warmest part of the day to be used during the coldest part. The return on investment (ROI) will be quicker as you save money on both your water heating and your space heating. You will also continue to save money on your utilities during the hotter part of the year as you will still be saving money on the domestic water heating.
Before you shop for a solar air heater, be sure to check out our brand ratings page. We compare the brands and give you our unbiased reviews.