Solar air heaters are extremely environmentally friendly and they will greatly reduce your home’s carbon footprint and energy bills. They require little or no maintenance and they will last for years.
Solar air heaters heat air in an “air collector.” The system absorbs and collects solar radiation and transfers the solar heat to a storage system or straight to the interior space. From there the heat is distributed.
To install a solar air heater, you must first calculate the system you will need for heating your space. Calculations should be based on the average heat load for your cold season. If you base it on the coldest, your system will be over-sized most of the year. A wood burning or gas stove can be used for the coldest days in addition to your heater.
Determine the amount of collectors you will need. You should allow 1.5 gallons of storage per square foot of collector area. There are unglazed air flat-plate collectors as well as glazed flat-plate collectors. The most efficient are evacuated tube collectors, which are used for heating water instead of air and should be used in really cold climates.
Once you’ve decided on the collectors, you must position them. They should be oriented within 15 degrees of true south (or north, in the southern hemisphere) since this is where the sun’s rays are strongest.
When placed on a roof, the collectors should be on a steeper pitch allowing more sun to be caught in winter and to keep them from overheating in the summer. You can also mount the collectors on a vertical wall to keep them from overheating in the summer. This will also keep them from losing efficiency in winter. When placing the collectors, make sure they are not obstructed by trees or buildings.
Once the collectors are in place, the electric air circulating fans must be installed. Select fans made specifically for solar space heating systems and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing them.
The solar heating system now needs to be joined to your duct work. New duct work may need to be installed for proper fitting of your new heater.
Your own solar air heater will save you money, while minimizing the amount of CO2 that you are responsible for producing. There is a lot to gain, so make sure you get this DIY project completed this year.
Photo Credits: Shannon Combs by residentialsolarpaneles.org