Solar Energy Systems - Heating With Solar: Active and Passive
Updated: May 23
In general, solar power has become an increasingly popular way to decrease costs on electricity. As the popularity of solar energy rises, we are beginning to understand the many ways it can benefit our culture. Solar energy has earned a reputation of being specifically environmentally friendly, but it has many other benefits as well. A substantial amount of progress has been made in recent years concerning the function of solar heating systems.
Solar heating systems can be dated all the way back to the ancient Greeks, in which they had ‘sunrooms’ designed to efficiently capture and store energy in small indoor spaces to keep warm. Nowadays we can harness the same energy through windows or walls through panels or collectors mounted on your roof. Heating your home or office with solar energy can be achieved through two sources: active and passive solar heating.
Passive heating is something we have all experienced before. Passive heating takes advantage of the existing heat generated by the sun to heat specific spaces. For example, if you have ever gotten into your car on a sunny day and felt the warmth that was captured through the windows of the car, this is a very basic example of passive heating. The seats, dashboard, panels, and doors all absorbed the heat, trapping it inside and warming the car.
Since passive solar heating does not require any specific equipment, there are a few things that must be in place first. Your building must be positioned to allow heat to properly enter the space through a window. In some cases, houses are even constructed with brick walls and/or stone floors to use the high thermal mass to store large amounts of heat to disperse throughout the space.
Active heating captures sunlight, either as heat or electricity, to augment heating systems.