DIY Solar Heaters
According to the TLC How Stuff Works website, DIY solar heaters are a good option for reducing energy bills. Describing such a project as an “inexpensive solar add-on,” the site reports that even such a small system can have a big impact on energy costs.
Most installations of solar power ordinarily rely upon DIY solar panels. It is not considered very hard to build solar panels, but it is more difficult to learn how to build solar cells. Do it yourself solar panels may not be any easier to than are the thermal collectors. For air heating with solar energy, thermal collectors rather than solar panels are needed.
What is different for solar air heating is that it is heat and not energy itself that is being collected. In many ways, this is more direct and less complicated. It eliminates a lot of wiring and the need for an inverter.
Compared to thermal collectors, it seems that do it yourself solar panels are easier to learn to make if only because websites are rife with instructions, including videos. It is likely, however, that anyone who can learn how to make solar panels will find even easier to make a thermal collector.
To make thermal collectors, usually a box is built that is rather flat. It is affixed to the outside wall of the home. The surface that is exposed to the sun is covered with glass that is usually dark. This works on the same principle as one finds when getting into one’s car on a summer day. Glass attracts the heat.
To affect the temperature inside the designated room, the system relies on the concept that warm air rises and cool air doesn’t. The system pulls air from the lower part of the room to circulate through the solar collector. After the air gets warmed, a fan will force the heated air back into the room.
Naturally, it makes sense to select a room in the house that gets a lot of use during the day. No solar heater is intended to replace completely the use of the home’s heating system, but it can serve to reduce the need to draw on fossil fuels.
If one has a south-facing window that doesn’t get subjected to shade, it should be possible to benefit from installing a DIY solar heater. The thermal collector is essentially a heat grabbing device.
The Mother Earth News website offers designs for various kinds of thermal collectors. One can even find instructions for using old storm windows to convert into heat grabbing devices.
Mother Earth News also has information about hot-line solar collectors that use a mirror-like specially curved insert to reflect the heat into specialized tubes. Flat plate collectors are also described in detail.
There are also instructions to make a solar heat box that is analogous to a solar panel. It is connected to the outside of a window frame to take in the sunlight. Special insulating material is utilized. It is often claimed that even a novice do it yourself homeowner could build one of these heat boxes in a couple of hours.
DIY solar heaters can probably be made by anyone who is capable of learning how to make solar panels. The thermal collectors may actually be even easier as they generally don’t make use of solar cells. Instead they use dark surfaces and glass to attract and hold in heat from the sun. Homeowners who fret about the cost of energy to heat their homes may find DIY solar heaters their next project.
Filed under: Building a Solar Cell
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