With rising energy costs and massive stress on our electrical grids, solar is gaining in popularity. Not everyone realizes you can heat your home without buying big panel systems.
Heating Your Home With Solar, But Without Panels – Gain
You can use solar energy to heat your home through a concept known as gain. While you may associate panel systems with any mention of solar power, they are not a component of this approach. Of course, this makes the installation a heck of a lot cheap than going with traditional panel systems.
Solar gain is a concept that has been with us for much of the history of mankind. Earlier civilizations obviously didn’t have electricity. To keep structures warmed, they learned to use the heat produced by sunlight. It is fairly humorous when archeologists marvel at the fact ancient structures are always oriented to the sun. If they new anything about solar gain, they would realize the structures were being used to produce thermal heating through masonry, openings and so on. Regardless, these early civilizations were the first to develop and implement solar gain heating.
The simplest way to explain solar gain is with a practical example. Assume it is summer time and your car is parked in the driveway with the windows rolled up. What happens when you open the door to get in? A massive blast of heat comes out. If you have black seats like I do, you also hop around like a fool when you sit down on the black surface. Your car is hot because it has acted as a platform for solar gain. The sun came in the windows, heated up surfaces in the car and raised the temperature. Since most vehicles are poorly ventilated, the heat reached unbearable levels because it couldn’t escape quickly enough. This is solar gain in a nutshell, a methodology that can be applied to your home.
With solar gain heating, the idea is to maximize sun penetration into the home, covert the sunlight into heat, and circulate it through the home. To accomplish this, one typically puts windows on the south side of the home to capture as much sunlight as possible. Thermal storage materials, such as masonry, are placed below the windows to capture and store heat for after the sun goes down. The heat from the sun is circulated throughout the house throughout the day and evening until the stored amount is exhausted. Yes, it works in winter.
Solar gain is an ancient and highly effective method for heating your home. If it sounds interesting to you, visit a solar site to find out the specifics.