A solar heating system is used for heating purposes by using solar energy instead of conventional energy sources like fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) or electricity. In simple terms, a solar heating system focuses solar heat on a fluid (air or water) held in its collectors. According to the mechanism of driving the fluid through the system, there are two main types of solar heating systems: active systems and passive systems. Active solar heating systems use a pumping mechanism to drive the fluid through the collector while passive systems make use of natural convection in fluids to get them moving through the collectors. Active solar heating systems are more practical to install at home and are thus recommended for household heating purposes. In addition, they are more cost effective than passive systems.
Selecting a Solar Heating System
Several factors need to be considered while selecting a solar heating system for home use. Some of these include the location of the house, its design, and the heating needs. In addition, the local climate and the type of system collectors determine the production of heat by the system. In general, the customer should select a system that can meet over 40% of the household heating needs. It is both not practical and not cost-effective to purchase a system that would meet all the heating needs. The best strategy is to keep a back-up heating system (fuel or electricity) for use in case the solar heating system fails to serve the purpose or goes out of order.
Cost of an Active Solar Heating System
The cost of an active solar system for heating houses varies, depending on several factors including the taxation rules of the state in which the house is located. Usually, the present cost of an active solar heating system ranges from $30 to $80 for each square foot of the collector area. This is particularly helpful in cutting low the heating costs in winter. Above all, solar heating systems do not pollute the environment with noxious emissions like those produced by fossil fuels.
Installation and Maintenance
Ideally, a solar heating system should be designed and installed by an experienced contractor. The maintenance measures for the system depend on its type, usually averaging between 8 to 16 hours of maintenance each year. In most of the case, the home insurance policy covers the maintenance costs of solar water heating systems. But home insurance usually does not cover the cost of damage resulting from freezing.