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One-Percent For The Planet

Solar Hot Air

Solar Space Heaters (including the Solarsheet 1500G) can produce temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) using just the energy of the sun. The heating panel is mounted on an outside, south-facing wall.  This panel has three parts: a photo-voltaic panel and fan, a solar collector and a thermostat

The photo-voltaic panel is a solar panel that makes electricity.  It is made of black silicone with an aluminum frame and wires.  When the sun’s rays strike the silicone, they add energy to it.  That allows the silicone to “let go” of electrons, which enter the wires and begin to move along it, creating an electrical current. This panel produces 15 watts of electricity—about what it takes to power the light in your refrigerator.  The electricity goes directly to a fan that is wired to accept DC (direct current) electricity.  The fan moves air through the second part of the panel, called the

The solar collector is the largest part of the unit is made of black aluminum and covered with a sheet of glass.  It has openings in the bottom that let air come into it.  When the sun’s rays strike the black aluminum, it heats up.  Heat radiating from the aluminum warms the air inside the collector.  Insulation in the collector and the glass cover help trap the heat so the air gets quite hot. When the air gets hot enough to help heat our building to desired temperature, the fan in the photo voltaic panel is turned on by the thermostat.

The thermostat detects and measures heat.  It has an on/off switch that can be set to change when a certain heat level is reached.  This thermostat measures the heat in the air inside the solar collector.  When that air reaches room temperature—about 19 degrees Celsius—the thermostat’s switch turns to “on” and the fan begins to turn, drawing the warm air into the building.

Solar space heater is designed to operate at maximum efficiency in direct sunlight, but it will also work on a bright, overcast day.  The more sun it gets, the more it heats the air.  And the more sun that falls on the photo-voltaic panel, the more electricity it produces, so the fan goes faster.

This means that on bright, slightly cloudy days, it takes longer to warm the air and the fan turns slowly, bringing air into the building only when it reaches 19 degrees Celsius.  On very sunny days, the air heats quickly and the fan turns at its maximum speed, moving lots of hot air inside.

Sunny days in winter are usually the coldest ones, because there are no clouds to trap the sun’s warmth near the ground.  So, on the coldest days of the winter, and on sunny days in spring and fall, the solar space heater can add enough heat to your home to let your furnace take a break!
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