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What Is Active Solar Heating?

Solar heating is a set of systems that exploit the direct conversion of solar energy into thermal energy. Let's see the types that make it possible to reduce energy consumption and pollution and the most practical uses.

What is active solar heating?

There are two distinct types of solar heating systems:

  • Passive solar heating systems whose energy systems do not use additional devices to take advantage of the sun's energy. These systems take advantage of hot water and heated air.

  • Active solar heating systems. In this case, its solar energy systems use external devices such as solar panels, air collectors, etc.

Active Solar Heating Definition

Solar heating is a solar technology that uses solar energy to heat homes and, more generally, rooms.

With greater precision, it exploits the direct conversion of solar energy into thermal energy. Other systems first transform the sun's energy into different forms, such as electricity, when using photovoltaic panels. Afterward, the system can convert electricity into thermal energy.

In general terms, solar heating can not provide 100% of the required energy. Therefore, it requires another source to supplement the missing share.

What's the Difference Between Active and Passive Solar Heating?

The most significant difference between passive and active solar heating is that active heating takes solar radiation using mechanical devices, either as heat or electricity, to supply home heating. In contrast, passive heating takes heat from the sun as it comes into your home through windows, roofs, and walls to heat objects in your home.

  • Active systems operate with pumps, blowers, or other mechanical devices. At the same time, passive systems use solar radiation directly.

  • Active systems do not need special building design.

  • In passive systems, the solar radiations are collected by an element of the structure itself, while active systems need separate collectors.

  • We can use active systems at almost any location and type of building.

  • Active solar heating is more expensive than the passive system to construct and operate.

How Do Active Solar Heating Systems Work?

The heating with an active solar system always uses the sun's thermal energy like the passive systems do. However, it does not use parts of the building envelope to be heated to capture and accumulate it. For these functions, on the other hand, it uses special devices made with particular technologies.

The leading technology used is solar thermal energy using solar collectors, which captures the solar radiation and transforms it into thermal energy.

Flat Plate Collectors

Flat plate collectors convert solar radiation into thermal energy, which they subsequently transfer to a storage tank. We can imagine them as water heaters.

This solar panel consists of a black-colored copper or aluminum metal plate that absorbs solar radiation and converts it into heat. The plate is covered with a glass plate that lets the light and short infrared radiation carried by the sun's rays through and blocks the long infrared radiation emitted by the plate when it heats up.

The heat obtained by converting thermal energy is removed from the plate by a heat transfer fluid (usually heat water). It circulates through a heat exchanger to heat water that will remain stored in a tank.

Radiant Panels

Radiant panels are heating devices that transfer heat to the environment by radiation.

The heat is conveyed to the radiant element using a serpentine pipe placed in close contact behind the part or embedded in it. The hot heat transfer fluid flows through the line. The operating temperatures of these devices are low and between 30 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius. There are three types of radiant panels: floor, wall, or ceiling.

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Published: April 17, 2021
Last review: April 17, 2021