How Do Active Solar Heating Systems Work?

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An active solar heating system differs from a passive one because it uses various components to collect and distribute the solar heat it collects. Passive systems typically involve architectural changes to a home that allows the solar heat to be used more directly and donít involve many moving parts. Active solar heating systems are very efficient in their operation and can be used to augment or even replace conventional heating systems for most homes.

An active solar heating system is very basic in its operation and simply heats a fluid with sunlight that is then used to heat your home. These systems are either air or liquid based and both of these are considered fluids from a solar heating perspective. Air based solar heating is typically simpler to install and is mostly used to reduce the amount of conventional heating a home needs. These types of systems can be used to heat a specific room in the colder months or even to pre-heat the air entering a conventional heating system for your home to help it work less. By having warmer air enter your heating system, youíll need to run your conventional heater less often and can save a lot of energy as a result.


The liquid based solar heating systems are a little more complicated and are more often used to heat an entire home. They utilize a collector cell on the roof of the home that a specialized liquid is passed through and heated by the sun. This warmer liquid is then circulated through a thermal storage tank where the heat it carries can be stored for use later if needed. When heat is called for in the home, this warm liquid is circulated through tubing in the floor or walls of the home and transfers its heat to the room. It then makes its way back to the thermal storage tank to be heated again and completes another cycle until the room reaches the temperature called for by the thermostat.

An advantage to using a liquid based solar heating system is that you can also heat the water you use in your home with the same solution. This will save you even more money and allows you to eliminate your conventional water heater in the process. As with any solar heating system you should always make sure you have a backup system installed in the event of cloudy period of days where the sunlight wonít be adequate to heat your home. These backup systems can be smaller than a conventional heater since they will be used rarely as a supplemental resource.


Most of these solar heating systems are comparably priced to a conventional heater and are much kinder to the environment. Because youíre using nothing more than simple sunlight as fuel, these systems are very inexpensive to operate and have none of the polluting concerns of conventional systems. You can use one of these solar heating systems on your home and enjoy the free heat it provides and feel good about helping the planet at the same time.

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