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Collecting the Sun’s Energy for Solar Thermal Applications

The sun is a vibrant, wealth of energy. Much attention has been placed on capturing those valuable rays for electricity, but those rays can be harnessed in another area as well. Photovoltaic systems are used to convert sunlight into electricity, and normally are placed on the roof of a residence. Solar power is definitely an advantageous addition to any home, but so is the installation of an active solar thermal system.

Active solar systems work by transforming the sun’s energy so it can be used in various applications throughout your home. It gathers the rays and heats a fluid which is then used to produce heat and hot water. This technology will allow you to be even more energy independent than before. The key to its success, however, is the proper collection of the solar radiation. There are several components to these systems, including collectors, electric pumps, fans, controls, and storage tanks. In this article, we’ll focus solely on the collection process.

You have either flat-plate or evacuated-tube collectors to choose between.

  • A flat-plate collector is a metal box whose top side faces the sun and has a glass or plastic cover that absorbs the rays and traps the heat within the box. There are pipes with a circulating fluid inside the box that are warmed by the trapped heat. This circulating fluid is then used to warm water or air.
  • Evacuated-tube collectors consist of several vacuum tubes that lay on your roof, absorbing the sun’s rays and warming the fluid that is recirculated. Flat-plate collectors have been in operation longer than evacuated-tube collectors, but evacuated-tubes are more efficient and can be used in cloudy weather.

Even if you don’t intend to use this system as your sole provider of heat or hot water, it can still serve to reduce your energy costs. Why not use it as a supplement to your existing energy source, and achieve more self-sufficiency within your home? Request free estimates from prescreened solar contractors in your area to price one of these systems.

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