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There are two main types of solar heating or solar power generating systems for residential homes. Passive solar heating involves a combination of house design that takes into account orientation of the home relative to the sun, adding rooms such as solariums, and using natural elements to generate heat for your home.
Active systems are more complex, have active components that manage the heating and even cooling of the home as well as power generation from the suns rays. We will cover both of these types of solar heating and solar power generation.
Orientation of the building is very important to maximize the collection of heat in the wintertime while avoiding over heating in the summer. During the winter when the sun is in the southern hemisphere most of the day, passive solar heating can be achieve by ensuring maximum exposure of windows on the southern side of the home or office.
Since the sun sets in the west during the summer months, shade trees are preferred and windows may be covered to minimize over heating. Solar blankets on pools, solar heating systems for pools will also assist in heating your pool in an energy efficient method. Sunrooms and solariums are additional examples of passive solar heating systems. Solar cookers are another example of passive systems that are used in areas of the world where electrical power is not available or affordable. They are a good example of do it yourself solar heating systems.
Most solar power generation systems are considered active since they are producing DC electrical current which can be used immediately, stored for future use or transferred to the power grid to reduce your overall energy costs. Generation of solar power can be achieved in a number of ways, however the most common is with the use of solar cells, batteries, an inverter to convert DC to AC and a charge controller to prevent overcharging of the batteries.
These systems can also be attached to the power grid with a special net metering system, which ensures a clean sine wave for the AC electrical current. Reduction in the amount of electricity you use will depend on the size of your solar power generation system and of course the number of hours per day of sunshine you receive in your area. There are do it yourself designs that many consumers can implement for these systems.
These systems involve the use of pumps or some other device to transfer the heat from the collection point to the dissemination point for heat transfer. Many systems will use pumps to move a liquid, which has been heated by solar arrays to another area of the home to either be stored or to distribute the heat. These systems can be far more effective at collecting and transferring the heated liquid to other areas away from the collection point.
Factors that will affect the efficiency of the solar heating system include:
Passive systems are also impacted by these issues as well.