Solar Thermal Systems – A Complementary Solar Option
What Is a Solar Thermal System:
Solar thermal panels don’t generate electricity, rather, they transfer the sun’s heat. A very popular application for solar thermal panels is to heat water. Hence, solar thermal is a wonderful technology to reduce energy usage for your water heater or for heating an outdoor pool. In some cases, solar thermal power can even be used to heat or cool a home. It depends on the specific solar thermal technology. As many residential heating systems use gas, this solar technology mainly offsets gas usage.
What to Expect:
A common type of solar thermal heating system uses water filled pipes along with solar thermal panels. The solar thermal panels conduct the sun’s heat in order to heat the water in the pipes. There are typically two kinds of these solar thermal systems: active and passive systems. An active system will use pumps and controls to regulate the hot water. Passive systems do not use any pumps or controls and they are normally only feasible in mild climates where risks from extreme temperatures (like freezing) aren’t present. Also, some also solar thermal heating systems heat homes by radiating the heat from the pipes to warm the air.
When to Buy:
Solar thermal heating systems can be great in conjunction with a PV system. When your home has high gas usage, installing solar thermal systems can offset that usage while a PV system can be installed to reduce electric usage. A PV system and a solar thermal system combined could allow you to become almost energy independent. You should review your home’s biggest energy demands in order to figure out which type of solar system or combination thereof makes the most sense for you.