If you’ve ever gotten into a car on a sunny day and felt how hot the interior has gotten, you’ve experienced the effects of solar heating. As sunlight streams through the windows of the car, the interior and especially the dark surfaces of the car absorb the sun’s rays and then radiates the energy in the form of heat.
Solar heating systems uses the exact same effect, but concentrate and direct the heat so it can be effectively utilized. Evacuated tube collectors are used to capture the heat and then apply the thermal energy to a fluid that can be brought into any structure. Once the heat has been moved inside, it can then be put to use.
There are several ways to take advantage of the heat.
– Hot Water; The easiest application for solar heating is providing hot water for any residential or commercial sites, including showers, washing machines, and dishwashers.
– Space Heating; Another common application for solar heating systems is space heating for your home or business. Many homes now have in-floor heating or baseboard radiators – these are the perfect systems to take advantage of solar heat as they use the same type of fluid as the evacuated tube collectors Eclipse uses in our solar heating system.
– Forced Air Systems; Solar heating is also beneficial for forced air systems. A device called a fan coil can take heat from the tube collectors and push heated air through existing furnace vents.
– Thermal Mass; Heat collected in the summer can even be stored for use in the winter using a thermal mass. A thermal mass is a large volume of material, usually buried underground and insulated. This will store captured heat when it isn’t needed for later use when heat is required.
Eclipse solar heating systems use evacuated tube collectors as the best option for Canadian winters. The tubes are designed to withstand hail strikes up to 1” in diameter and are able to produce heat in temperatures as low as -30° Celsius.
An evacuated tube is a glass tube within another glass tube. Between the two tubes there is a vacuum.
A vacuum is the presence of nothing, not even air. This means that there is no way for heat to move from the inner tube to the outside air, so the thermal energy that is collected is contained. The tube collector has a special absorption coating to efficiently capture UV radiation and sunlight. Once inside the tube, the heat is focused on a copper heat pipe, which contains a small volume of fluid that evaporates at 30° Celsius. The steam that is produced moves to the top of the copper pipe where it condenses, transferring the heat into a manifold at the top. The effectiveness of this technology is so great that the top of the heat pipes can reach 225° Celsius in an hour when in direct sunlight.