Thermal Solar Power Systems and Thermal Collectors

There is a category of solar power designs which generate heat directly from the Sun. They are called thermal solar power systems, and are a reliable and inexpensive way to make your life more self sustainable for years to come.

The uses for thermal solar power are widespread and varied. Just think of any process which could utilize heat. This could range from something simple such as hot water heating, to more sophisticated designs involve stirling engines or industrial grade steam.

For small scale users like ourselves, thermal solar power can be integrated into our homes. The most practical applications are for hot water and home heating, and there are a variety of designs in use. Equally as important is that thermal solar power systems are affordable and easy to use.

There are other good uses for thermal solar power which we expect to increase in years to come. One is pebble bed heat exchangers, which act as a thermal storage bank for converted heat. This gives us some system capacity and operating flexibility.

These pebble bed heat exchangers can be designed into your floors, walls, workshops, or other places around the home. They can be used for household heating, greenhouses, saunas, and as air driers for clothes. We had one design whereby a user wanted to heat up a nesting area in their chicken coupe!

The typical operating temperature for most thermal solar power systems will be between 100F and 180F. In good solar climates these temperatures can be easily achieved with popular off the shelf equipment. With more specialized equipment we can go in excess of 250F, and with high performance industrial equipment over 700 degrees is possible. These high performance systems are usually for making steam, but incorporating them into other processes is also possible.

The solar collector is the most important component to a thermal solar power installation. A few different types include flat plate absorbers, evacuated tube absorbers, and parabolic trough concentrators. Their main purpose is to absorb solar radiation and generate heat for the system. With a good sized solar collector system, significant heat can be generated and distributed to multiple locations.

The circulating fluid flows through the solar collector to distribute the heat through your system. It should be selected based on the peak operating temperatures and equipment compatibility. Typical fluids are glycol, oil, and water. A low flow pumping system will be needed that is agreeable with your operating conditions.

Anyone interested in energy independence and self-sustainability should thoroughly investigate thermal solar energy. Most systems are fairly simple and rank very well in affordability. If you live in a climate with a good reputation for Sun, then there is a pretty good chance you could be using a thermal solar power system of some form.

Thermal solar power is a major branch of the solar market, with much room to grow in years to come. Solar hot water and pebble bed heat transfer systems are two good applications for most homes. We can store heat in our floors, a sauna, a greenhouse, or even use it to air dry our clothes. The possibilities for thermal solar power are as far as the imagination can go. With a new age emerging toward more natural lifestyles and self-sustainability, we expect to see several new designs in years to come. Everything begins first with harnessing the energy of the Sun.

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