Solar Heating Plan for Any Home

This solar heating plan is a system that works with almost any home. The solar collectors are built into a small, new building, and the hot water storage tank fits into the new building, too. The simple design prevents frozen collectors without complicated plumbing.


| December 2007/January 2008



Solar heating plan system diagram.

Solar heating plan system diagram.


Illustration by Len Churchill

Slash your home heating bills with this exciting solar heating plan for any home. You can use the solar-heated water to heat your house using radiant floor heat or baseboard heaters, or you can use it to pre-heat water going into your hot-water heater. If you can build a deck, you can build this super solar system!

A Solar Heating Plan for Any Home

It’s time to take advantage of solar heat to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and lower your heating bills. This simple, yet effective, system can be utilized in almost any home. Because the solar collectors and the heat storage tank for the system are built into a small new outbuilding, you don’t need to completely remodel your home to use solar heat. On sunny days (or even partly sunny days) the collectors add heat to the storage tank. When the house needs heat, hot water from the storage tank is transferred to the house via an underground pipe into a radiant floor heating system. (See illustration in the Image Gallery.) The new building that houses our collectors is a storage shed, but yours could be a studio, playhouse or workshop.

Advantages of This Approach

• The collectors are mounted at ground level, where they are easy to build and maintain.

• The collectors can be oriented and tilted for maximum solar collection.

• The collectors and the building can share a structure in such a way that the material costs and time to build are reduced for both the collectors and the shed.

• The collectors look good integrated with the shed (see photo, Image Gallery).

john
6/11/2014 10:36:53 AM

Solar heating has become increasingly popular over the last few years with people looking to improve the energy efficiency of their home. I combine this with http://www.underfloorheatingsystems.co.uk to provide a fantastic energy efficient outlook on my home. My annual bill has nearly halved in this last year and I would strongly recommend anyone to invest in this to save money in the long run.


gary reysa
2/5/2009 8:47:39 PM

Hi Joe, To be honest, I've not thought in detail about exactly how the thermal mixing valve works, but it does work well. It allows you to set the loop out temp to just about anything you want -- for example, if the tank temp is 160F, the mixing value can be adjusted to produce 120F water. Its not limited to the 10F drop in temp over the loop. The pump in my case is located a bit lower in elevation than the storage tank. If your pump is at a higher elevation than the storage tank, you will have to go to using a heat exchanger to extract heat from the tank. The pipe coil heat exchangers immersed in the tank are very commonly used for this. Alternatively, I guess you could locate the pump at the storage tank and use a check valve to keep the house loops from draining back to the tank when the pump shuts down. Gary Reysa


joe barfield
12/16/2008 5:37:56 PM

Thank you for the detail. I love the concept of solar radiant heating and your case study provides structure to what I have been dreaming up. One question was answered... if you add cold water through the thermal mixing valve, how do you keep all the additional cold water from overflowing your tank? Your answer, mix in cooler water from the supply loop as it returns to the storage tank. That raises a few other questions. 1- Your circulation pump is located in the house. It "pulls" water from very far away. Is this a problem? You must be down hill... 2- Does the reduced cool-side supply loop water have lower pressure and is this a challenge for blending at the thermal mixer? 3- If your tank is at 155 and you only lose 10 degrees after the radiant loop, how effective is thermal mixing 145 degree water back into the 155 degree supply? Thanks, Joe Barfield San Antonio, TX


joe barfield
12/16/2008 4:18:18 PM

Thank you for the detail. I love the concept of solar radiant heating and your case study provides structure to what I have been dreaming up. One question was answered... if you add cold water through the thermal mixing valve, how do you keep all the additional cold water from overflowing your tank? Your answer, mix in cooler water from the supply loop as it returns to the storage tank. That raises a few other questions. 1- Your circulation pump is located in the house. It "pulls" water from very far away. Is this a problem? You must be down hill... 2- Does the reduced cool-side supply loop water have lower pressure and is this a challenge for blending at the thermal mixer? 3- If your tank is at 155 and you only lose 10 degrees after the radiant loop, how effective is thermal mixing 145 degree water back into the 155 degree supply? Thanks, Joe Barfield San Antonio, TX


tom_50
1/20/2008 8:55:58 PM

Great article! I was wondering how many square feet your house was and how often you need backup heat?


barry_17
12/26/2007 3:07:06 PM

I saw this in the printed edition. I want to incorporate this design into my house, once I move and get it built.


tom_42
12/1/2007 5:54:45 PM

Good system. Vertical collectors will gain about 30% more heat in the winter when there is snow cover on the ground through reflectance. New snow makes a great reflector and it is free. A vertical collector that is used for space heat also is self-regulating in the summer since a fair bit of sunlight reflects off the glazing, keeping the system from overheating. If it does overheat, you can cover some of the collectors with canvas. Don't use plastic. It might melt!!


layton_2
11/23/2007 7:37:56 PM

i THINK THIS IS GREAT AND I AM GOING TO TRY IT THANX LAYTON


michael_72
11/22/2007 2:30:47 PM

I really appreciate your doing this project. I think you have something of value here and I will use your lead for my own solar heating plans. Many thanks! Pls feel free to update me. Michael Cresanta






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