Maintaining a heated home, especially the least energy efficient, carries a significant cost, both in emissions to the atmosphere and in energy expenditure. Therefore, opt for solar energy to maintain the temperature of homes and, why not, to provide hot water, solve both problems at a stroke. However, sometimes it is not so easy to take the first step.
How does solar thermal energy work ? What can it offer and, beyond that, what types of solar collectors exist? The doubts are many, so we try to clear them.
Keys to the operation of a solar thermal system.
Compared to the classic photovoltaic panels, which capture the sun’s energy for conversion into alternating current, solar thermal systems have many advantages, what they do is take advantage of the heat of radiation to heat a home or heat domestic hot water, among other potential uses, to which the addition of heating a pool, for example.
To achieve the above, there are many necessary equipment within a system for the use of solar thermal energy. However, betting on it will bring benefits, both for the environment and for the homeowner. You just have to take a look at the bills to understand it. Approximately half of the cost is produced directly by heating. Thus, advocating solar thermal energy, alone or with the support of an auxiliary system, will drastically reduce the energy expenditure of any home.
Most common solar collectors.
What happens is that entering this world and choosing well is not always easy, since there are many aspects to consider. Thus, when one begins to deepen solar energy, he discovers that it goes far beyond the photovoltaic and that there are many types of solar panels .
Something similar happens when you pay attention to the sun as an alternative to air conditioning a home. Suddenly, to get acquainted with solar collectors, you will dive into a world of thermal panel typologies in which getting lost will not be uncommon. However, for home use, you will have to pay attention to the following two options:
- Flat solar thermal system. It is one of the most common and oldest, since its use dates back to the middle of the 20th century. Composed of a plate for the absorption of dark color, an insulation cover and a fluid that transports heat from the plate to the water tank, this mechanism is the lowest cost and is considered suitable for any type of weather. However, as a weakness, it is usually pointed to its low efficiency, at least compared to other alternatives.
- Vacuum tube panels. This is another option for the domestic use of thermal energy with greater penetration in homes. In this case, the system is formed by collectors that are inserted in vacuum tubes and thus prevent heat losses . This, in fact, is one of the most obvious differential points between this option and the previous one, in which losses are more common. In addition to highlighting in this regard, vacuum tube collectors are generally much more efficient, although this is accompanied by a higher cost for installation and maintenance.
Flat thermal collector or vacuum tubes?
As in almost everything, in the face of this dilemma there is no valid answer for everyone since there are many factors to consider in a decision of this nature.
The initial investment capacity, personal preferences or the availability of space to place the systems are, without a doubt, aspects that should mediate in any decision. In it, the hours of sun exposure will also be a factor to take into consideration.
Other components of a solar thermal installation.
Another aspect that must be taken into account is that, to take advantage of what solar energy can provide in air conditioning, the collectors will be only one part of the system.
Valves and pumps that favor the movement of the fluid through the system to the margin, a key element for what can be assumed for the viability of installing this system at home will be the tank for hot water . At this point, it should be borne in mind that, to cover the needs of two people, a tank of about 150 liters will be necessary. The more numerous a family, the more capacity the tank must have and, with that, the more space available to the home to place it.
The tank, therefore, will be another aspect to consider when designing a solar thermal system for domestic use, which will also have sufficient and adequate space to place the panels and get the most out of an inexhaustible energy source and clean, as is sunlight.