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What types of systems are available?

Q:

What types of systems are available?

A:

Solar space heating systems can be either air-based or liquid based.

Air-based solar space heating systems use fans to circulate air from the house through the solar collectors and back into the house. Properly designed systems will incorporate some means of heat storage, to save some of the heat available during the day for use during the night. These types of space heating systems are no longer built very often due to the difficulties of storing the heat and air leakage.

There are a number of air-heating solar panels which are designed to mount vertically to a wall and which use a small bathroom fan-like blower to circulate air to and from a room through the panel. These systems can work, collecting about as much heat as a window of the same size. However they have no ability to store the heat, and unless equipt with a good air-tight damper, can reverse thermosyphon and lose heat from the room overnight. The claims made by the manufacturers about the amounts of energy collected and the dollars saved are very often grossly inflated.

Liquid based systems are often large solar domestic water heating systems, with an air coil or radiant floor heating connection. The systems must be designed with care to interface with the existing heating system.