Passive vs. Active Solar Heating

Solar energy has been used for hundreds of years, but better technology over the last few decades has allowed us to harness and use this energy more effectively. However, there are still two choices in how solar energy is harnessed: passive or active. It’s important to understand the difference between the two solar options before you decide to schedule a solar installation service.

Passive Solar

Passive solar is harnessing solar energy without the use of devices. Examples would be a greenhouse, sun-heated stones and solar water collectors. Correct design is critical to the success of passive solar use; things like southern exposure and consistent exposure to the sun are critical to capturing the solar energy. Thermal mass can also be a factor, depending on how you want to use your passive solar. For example, passive solar water collectors need to be placed on the sunny side or roof of any building; height is also necessary so that the heated water can use gravity to flow downward for use. The key to any passive solar use is convection, which is the main way heat moves with using passive solar. With the right attention to detail, passive solar can help cut energy costs in your home.

Active Solar

As you can probably guess, active solar heating involves mechanics. Solar panels, solar hot water tanks and solar electricity are all considered active solar because they need the help of pumps and a medium in order to work. The two mediums used with active solar are fluid (many times this is water) or air. Both mediums are used to facilitate the transfer of the solar energy (heat or electricity) into energy to be used in some capacity for your home. Typically those using air are referred to as “air collectors” and those using a fluid are called “hydronic collectors”. Once installed, active solar systems can reduce your energy usage significantly.

Finding a solar option that best suits your home is something that should be determined with the help of an expert. Since 1989, Sound Heating has been helping customers with energy decisions for their homes, and we can help you, too. If you need more information regarding your solar options in Sumner, WA, simply give us a call today!

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