Solar thermal energy, or solar hot water, uses flat collector plates to harness the sun’s energy. This thermal energy is transferred from the solar collectors through a glycol solution, heat exchangers, and controllers to help heat water for use in businesses, homes, and swimming pools. Solar hot water will reduce the energy your business or house needs to heat domestic water and will save you money.
Solar thermal energy can also be used for radiant floor and radiant heating systems to help reduce your business or home’s heating costs. Similar to solar systems, the flat collector plates perform best with southern exposure and unobstructed sunlight.
Radiant floor heating is arguably the most ideal and comfortable home heating system. It’s comfortable, energy efficient, unobtrusive, quiet, and does not blow dust and allergens around the way forced hot air systems do. In addition, solar thermal energy is a good energy source for radiant floors because the solar thermal flat plate collectors are very efficient at supplying the lower water temperatures that the radiant heating systems require.
The most common type of radiant heating system is the hydronic system. Hydronic heating systems are usually designed to heat an entire house. Water is heated to between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit by a boiler and circulated through tubing under floors. The tubing can be installed in several ways: embedded in a concrete slab, installed over an existing slab in cement, stapled under subflooring, or fitted inside the channels of specially designed subfloor panels. Any kind of finished flooring, including hardwood strip flooring, vinyl, or carpeting, can be installed above it. Hydronic radiant heat is more efficient than other systems because it uses relatively low water temperatures to heat your home.
Solar thermal systems are a great alternative investment if the business or homeowner cannot afford a solar system (PV or Photovoltaic). The amount to invest in a system is much lower ($5,500 – $7,500) and the payback is quicker than a Solar PV system. The cost of a solar thermal system will vary due to the size of the family, hot water needs, age of the existing water tank/system, and the type of system that’s installed (Closed loop or a Drain-back).
A typical solar thermal system will provide a family of four with 70% of their annual hot water needs. The larger the family (or larger hot water needs) the more flat plate collectors will be required. The solar collectors will still need to be mounted on a south facing roof or on a pole or ground mount facing south. We can tilt the solar collectors south if we must install the solar collectors on an east or west facing roof to achieve greater heat production.
For radiant heating systems, the cost is determined by a cost per square foot and total project cost varies depending on the square footage of space to heat. There are many other factors that go into a project cost such as the sub floor, concrete slab, new construction, and remodel work. Radiant heating systems are much more cost effective to install in new construction.
At Ohio Power Solutions, we design, engineer, and install solar thermal systems to heat domestic water for commercial and residential applications. We can also design, engineer, and install solar thermal energy systems for swimming pools and radiant heating applications.
Contact us today or schedule a free site assessment to learn more, discuss your ideas, or to help design an efficient system for your solar hot water and solar heating needs.