What Is Solar Heating and Cooling?

May 30, 2022

Solar heating and cooling (SHC) is the technology used to harness the thermal energy from the sun and convert it into useful thermal energy (heating and cooling) for space heating, water heating, pool heating, and domestic hot water. Solar thermal systems can be either active or passive. 

Fast Facts Concerning Solar Heating & Cooling

Active solar thermal systems use pumps or fans to circulate a working fluid (usually water or air) through solar collectors. It is heated and then delivers the thermal energy to a heat exchanger. The thermal energy can then be used directly or stored for later use.

Passive solar thermal systems rely on natural convection and radiation to circulate the working fluid (water or air) through the solar collectors and deliver the thermal energy to a heat exchanger. Natural convection results from the warm working fluid rising and the cooler working fluid sinking. Radiation is the transfer of thermal energy by electromagnetic waves, and in a solar thermal system, thermal energy is transferred from the collector to the heat exchanger by infrared radiation.

Solar thermal systems are not the same as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight into electricity. Solar thermal technology has been used for thousands of years in various forms. Still, it only became a feasible option for modern buildings in the mid-20th century with the development of flat-plate solar collectors.

While solar thermal technology can be used for various applications, the most common type of solar thermal system in use today is the solar water heater. Solar water heaters come in a wide range of sizes and configurations, but they all have one thing in common: They use sunlight to heat water.

In terms of affordability and practicality, solar water heaters are one of the most viable solar thermal applications for the average homeowner. In many parts of the world, a well-designed and properly installed solar water heater can provide up to 80% of a household’s hot water needs, and in some cases, the system can provide 100% of the hot water needs.

Solar heating systems have three elements: solar collectors, a heat exchanger, and thermal storage. Solar collectors capture thermal energy from the sun and transfer it to a working fluid (usually water or air). The working fluid then flows through a heat exchanger, where the thermal energy is transferred to a second fluid (water or air) used to provide heating or cooling. Finally, thermal storage is used to store thermal energy when solar radiation is unavailable (at night or during cloudy weather).

The thermal energy from the sun can be used to heat water for domestic use, such as showering, cooking, and doing laundry. In a solar water heater, water is circulated through solar collectors, where it is heated by the sun. The hot water is then stored in an insulated tank for later use.

Bottom line

Aneva Solar Company provides solar thermal systems for various residential solar installation applications. We are committed to providing our customers with the best possible experience by offering quality products and services that meet their needs. Our team of experts is available to help you choose the right solar thermal system for your home or business. Call us today to learn more about our solar thermal solutions!

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