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can you use solar panals to heat house

  • 18-08-2010 10:13pm
    Registered Users Posts: 732 ✭✭✭

    hi maybe this is a silly quistion but i am going building at end of year and was wondering if you coul use solar panals to heat house i know it could be used for heating water


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,381 ✭✭✭Doom

    valtra2 wrote: »
    hi maybe this is a silly quistion but i am going building at end of year and was wondering if you coul use solar panals to heat house i know it could be used for heating water

    They will not fully heat the house, they are used to off set the temp of the water is the heating system by a few degrees, thus saving you some money on water heating ( water requires a lot of energy to heat)

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,516 ✭✭✭Outkast_IRE

    valtra2 wrote: »
    hi maybe this is a silly quistion but i am going building at end of year and was wondering if you coul use solar panals to heat house i know it could be used for heating water

    There will be people with more experience than me on here , but as far as i know technically Yes its totally possible , but in reality i dont think the Amount of sunshine, and direct sunshine we get here in the winter is anyway near reliable enough or strong enough to give you the amount of heat you would need .

    You would need a standard boiler or heatpump or somethin as a "backup" but more than likely this backup would get a lot of use in winter.

    The amount of money it would cost would push it out of most peoples reach

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭sinnerboy

    look here - it is possible . You need a lot of panels and a rather large storage tank .

  • Registered Users Posts: 558 ✭✭✭beyondpassive

    Two Passive house Pioneers are heating houses with ~Solar only. Of course you would want to be at least at Passive level with the benefits it offers such as free solar gains through glazing and ventilation losses minised and of course minimal fabric losses.

    Both houses use a type of 'interseasonal storage' not unlike sinnerboys 'sonenhaus'. One uses an underground super-insulated storage tank to store summer and shoulder months excess heat and use it as background heat for a water to water heat exchanger in winter for underfloor and hot water.

    The other house, a victorian terrace, thermally optimised, collects heat from roof pipes under glass tiles and puts it down a borehole to heat up the groundwater or aquifer, this is then indirectly recovered in winter to preheat the tank and fed into decentralised heat recovery ventilation units called fine wire heat exchangers. The aquifer can move between summer and winter, so the point you recover the heat can be up to 3m away from where you pump the heat through.

    I love solar panels as much as the next man, but find it hilarious that people select the heating system before they look at the fabric or ventilation. You need to minimise the heat load through design and specification and only then look at how you balance the heat budget. Design, Insulation and airtighness are far more economical than the eco-bling. That said, solar is fairly mandatory because of the regs. There are so many people building now and looking for energy efficient solutions, but with planning (running out) for an engineer designed house. Its possible to get such beasts down to about 20-24kwh/m2 per annum for space heating.

    I'm finding out that good control and integration of heating systems can get the great results. Once your heat load is reduced it makes no sense to spend big on heating systems. Your 1000 L dual function stratified tank will act as a buffer tank and preheat the heating circuits through a heat exchanger which can be boosted by a small boiler. Simple, the full benefits of solar with the back up of a fast response boiler.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,627 ✭✭✭quentingargan

    Agree absolutely with you Beyondpassive. In terms of space heating, solar works best when you need it least. The better insulated your house is, the more your heating season is shortened into the time of year when solar is pretty much asleep.

    Solar is great for heating water at a time of the year when all other heating systems are off (or should be). At those times, your hot water is usually more expensive than it is in winter.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 254 ✭✭Evergreen

    It is very common in Austria and Germany to install enough panels to heat their house in the winter - providing they are not covered in snow. The average installation in Austria is in the range of 12 - 16 square meters, whereas it is closer to 6 square meters here.

    The biggest issue with trying to heat a house is as Quentin says, when you need the most energy you have the least amount of Sun and visa versa.

    You can put up enough solar panels to heat your house for most of the year but the issue is what do you do with the surplas heat during the Summer.

    To consider such a system you would need a large heat dump, such as a swimmin pool, for Summer periods - or just set up a drain back solar system that will not be prone to over heating during high heat times.

    I would guess that underfloor heating would probably be better suited to home heating with solar panels than radiators, plus as an earlier poster mentioned, you would need a large buffer tank to hold the energy from the day so that it can be used at night when there is no Sun.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭✭galwaytt

    ....I find a basement works as an effective heat dump when solar is over-supplied !

    Never saw a basement refuse heat yet !

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