With rising energy costs and massive stress on our
electrical grids, solar is gaining in popularity. Not
everyone realizes you can heat your home without buying big
Heating Your Home With Solar, But Without
Panels – Gain
You can use solar energy to heat your home through a
concept known as gain. While you may associate panel systems
with any mention of solar power, they are not a component of
this approach. Of course, this makes the installation a heck
of a lot cheap than going with traditional panel systems.
Solar gain is a concept that has been with us for much of
the history of mankind. Earlier civilizations obviously
didn’t have electricity. To keep structures warmed, they
learned to use the heat produced by sunlight. It is fairly
humorous when archeologists marvel at the fact ancient
structures are always oriented to the sun. If they new
anything about solar gain, they would realize the structures
were being used to produce thermal heating through masonry,
openings and so on. Regardless, these early civilizations
were the first to develop and implement solar gain heating.
The simplest way to explain solar gain is with a
practical example. Assume it is summer time and your car is
parked in the driveway with the windows rolled up. What
happens when you open the door to get in? A massive blast of
heat comes out. If you have black seats like I do, you also
hop around like a fool when you sit down on the black
surface. Your car is hot because it has acted as a platform
for solar gain. The sun came in the windows, heated up
surfaces in the car and raised the temperature. Since most
vehicles are poorly ventilated, the heat reached unbearable
levels because it couldn’t escape quickly enough. This is
solar gain in a nutshell, a methodology that can be applied
to your home.
With solar gain heating, the idea is to maximize sun
penetration into the home, covert the sunlight into heat,
and circulate it through the home. To accomplish this, one
typically puts windows on the south side of the home to
capture as much sunlight as possible. Thermal storage
materials, such as masonry, are placed below the windows to
capture and store heat for after the sun goes down. The heat
from the sun is circulated throughout the house throughout
the day and evening until the stored amount is exhausted.
Yes, it works in winter.
Solar gain is an ancient and highly effective method for
heating your home. If it sounds interesting to you, visit a
solar site to find out the specifics.
Rick Chapo is with SolarCompanies.com, a directory of
energy companies. Visit us to read more articles on
solar power and