Solar Radiant Floor Heating

You can incorporate solar radiant floor heating in more ways than you can think. To top it off it is a very economical way to heat the home. The ever-increasing cost of power and money today has prompted many individuals, homes and industries to turn to the sun for power. While the idea may not be entirely new, the system that makes use of it is: the solar radiant floor heating systems to warm home interiors.

More and more households are nowadays adopting the technology, it being efficient, affordable and comfortable. It is also environment-friendly, a catchword so popular today, and best, lowers power consumption and thus the monthly bill.

Two Solar Radiant Floor Heating Systems

There are generally two systems for solar radiant heating in use today to warm up homes and households. One is the electric system, where the sun’s rays are used to generate electricity via photovoltaic cells. The electricity generated is then used in the radiant heating system.

You don't have to have an electrical radiant floor heating system if you have solar panels. For instance, you can simply have solar panels and use the energy generated for other electrical needs.

The other radiant heat system is the water-based solar radiant heating. The concept is similar, except that in the place of the photovoltaic cells, the sun heats metal tubes containing water laid out in a panel. The heated water then circulates in the heating system to give warmth to the home’s interior spaces.

Hydronic Solar Radiant Floor Heating - Direct and Tanked Methods

Two methods are considered hydronic (water-based) solar radiant heating systems. The first is the direct circulation system, where the water heated by the sun is pumped directly into the tubing network. This is a simpler system and costs less to install. However, there is little control on the temperature even with a thermostat, since the water goes directly to the radiant heating tubing network. Water temperature will depend almost entirely on the sun’s heating capabilities for any particular time frame.

The second system uses a storage tank to temporarily store the radiant liquid/water before sending it out to the circulation network. Temperature control is much better through the use of an exchanger. Moreover, the tank can store the heated water far longer than via the direct system, something very important as the days grow shorter and winter nears. Many solar radiant heating designs of this system can store heated water up to a few weeks depending on the volume of use and external temperatures.

The System’s Components

The solar radiant heating system consists of two or three general components:first, the solar heat collector, second, the tubing system, and with some systems, a storage tank. There are also the pump, valves and thermostat sub-components which are all essential to the operation. The storage tank may also have an integral heat exchanger used in regulating water temperature.

The solar water heat collectors are usually located at or near the roof of the house when the sun can shine on it most of the day, and the least impeded. There are collectors, however, that are located at the house’s side, separate from the house itself, in the lawn or garden or somewhere else, depending on the solar radiant heating requirements and the limitations of space. The main requisite is that the solar collectors must be exposed to the sun for the longest time any day in any season for it to function at the optimum.

Solar Radiant Heating Collector Designs

The solar radiant heating collectors generally consist of metal tubes where water flows that should be heated by the sun, and housed in box frames. Many designs exist, but basically they consist of a rigid form where the reflective insulation backing that conserves the sun’s rays’ heat is attached. Then the tubing is tacked on with the copper absorber fin, and the cover, usually glass, is placed.

In another solar radiant heating design, the copper tubes with the individual heat absorber fins are housed within vacuum tubes and contained in an insulated frame. Whether this is better than the standard designs is open to debate, but one big disadvantage for this would be its cost. It is not cheap to produce evacuated glass tubes. And it is much more fragile than standard systems.

The Benefits of Solar Radiant Floor Heating Systems

Three main benefits go for using solar radiant heating systems:
1. It is relatively cheaper. Most times it does not need sophisticated devices to operate and uses free solar heat to work.
2. It can be done DIY style. Many designs are simple they can be made by any handyman from common hardware materials purchasable at the store.
3. It can be multifunctional. The hot water produced can also be used for heating the tub or for other household needs such as dishwashing or laundry.

So, why not try to learn more about solar radiant heating systems? It can give you warm comfort in winter, and reduce your energy bills further.

Related Articles

- Radiant Water Heat
- Concrete Floor Radiant Heating
- Warmboard Subflooring for Hydronic Radiant Heat
- PEX Radiant Floor

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