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Maintaining a heated house, especially the less energy efficient ones, comes at a significant cost, both in emissions to the atmosphere and in energy expenditure. Therefore, opting for solar energy to maintain the temperature of homes and, why not, to provide hot water, solves both problems at once. However, sometimes it is not that easy to take the first step. How does solar thermal energy work, what can it offer and, moreover, what types of solar collectors are there?

Keys to the functioning of a solar thermal system.

Compared to conventional photovoltaic panels, which capture energy from the sun to convert it into alternating current, solar thermal systems have many advantages, what they do is take advantage of the heat of radiation to heat a house or to heat domestic hot water, among other potential uses, in addition to heating a swimming pool, for example.

To achieve the above, there are many pieces of equipment required in a system for the use of solar thermal energy. However, betting on it will bring benefits, both for the environment and for the owner. One need only take a look at the bills to understand this. About half of the cost is produced directly by heating. Thus, advocating solar thermal energy, alone or with the support of an auxiliary system, drastically reduce energy expenditure from any house.

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The most common solar collectors.

What happens is that entering this world and choosing well is not always easy, because there are many aspects to take into account. So, when you start to dive into solar energy, he discovers that it goes far beyond photovoltaics and that there are many types of solar panels.

Something similar happens when attention is paid to the sun as an alternative to air conditioning a home. Suddenly, by familiarizing yourself with solar collectors, you dive into a whole world of types of thermal panels in which getting lost will not be uncommon. However, for home use you will need to pay attention to the following two options:

  1. Flat thermal solar system. It is one of the most common and one of the oldest, as its use dates back to the middle of the 20th century. Consisting of a plate for absorption of dark color, an insulating coating and a fluid that transports heat from the plate to the water tank, this mechanism is the one that costs the least and it is considered suitable for any type of climate. However, as a weakness, its low effectiveness is usually reported, at least in comparison with other alternatives.
  2. Vacuum tube panels. It is another option for the domestic use of thermal energy with greater penetration into homes. In this case, the system consists of collectors which are inserted into vacuum tubes and, therefore, avoid heat loss. This is in fact one of the most obvious differential points between this option and the previous one, in which losses are more frequent. In addition to being remarkable in this regard, evacuated tube collectors are generally much more efficient, although this comes with a higher installation and maintenance cost.

Flat tube or vacuum heat collector?

As with almost everything, when faced with this dilemma, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as there are many factors to consider in deciding these characteristics.

The initial investment capacity, personal preferences or the availability of space to place the systems are, without a doubt, aspects that should be involved in any decision. In this one, the hours of sun exposure will also be a factor to consider.

Other components of a solar thermal installation.

Another aspect to take into account is that, in order to take advantage of what solar energy can provide in air conditioning, the collectors will be just one part of the system.

Valves and pumps that promote the movement of fluid through the system at the margin, a key part of what this can mean for the viability of installing this system at home will be the hot water tank. At this point, it should be taken into account that in order to cover the needs of two people, a tank of about 150 liters will be required. The larger a family, the more capacity the tank should have and, with this, the more space available in the house to be able to place it.

The tank will therefore be another aspect to consider when designing a solar thermal system for home use, which will also include sufficient and adequate space to place the panels and make the most of an inexhaustible source of energy. and clean, as is sunlight.