Kinds of Solar Heat in Floor Heating Systems

Kinds of Solar Heat in Floor Heating Systems thumbnail
Solar panels can be used to power several kinds of floor heating systems.

For people who are concerned about climate change, fluctuating energy prices, and a diminishing fossil-fuel supply, using solar power to heat one's business or home is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative. Accordingly, there are several kinds of floor-heating systems that use the energy of the sun to produce radiant heat, which rises from the floor to heat the surrounding structure. The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that radiant heating is more efficient than baseboard heating and forced-air heating systems.

  1. Solar Power

    • Warming buildings through radiant heating can be done through burning wood or fossil fuels. Solar power technology, though, provides significant levels of radiant heat, particularly in regions with less temperature extremes. Aside from setup and maintenance costs, there are no utility charges associated with solar-powered floor heating systems, and they produce no carbon gas emissions.

    Air

    • Solar radiant-air floor-heating systems use air that has been warmed through a solar collector or solar-powered generator to produce radiant heat. The heated air is transferred to passageways that may be constructed of plastic piping, concrete blocks, and concrete panels, which in turn warms the floor from underneath. Unlike liquid-based heating systems, there is no risk of the heating agent freezing. Air does not retain high levels of heat, though, so such systems are less cost effective.

    Electric

    • Solar-powered generators can provide energy to electric cables and panels, positioned directly underneath the surface on a subfloor, to produce rising, radiant heat. While such systems are more cost-effective than non-radiant systems, they are most efficient when built into a thick concrete floor or another thermal mass that holds heat well. This prevents the system from having to run for prolonged periods of time and allows for faster heating when required.

    Hydronic

    • With hydronic radiant floor-heating systems, heated water is pumped from a storage tank to plastic tubing that is laid beneath the floor. The water can be heated through solar collectors or solar-powered electric heating systems. However, electric systems provide more energy capacity and are better suited for regions that incur extreme temperatures. While hydronic systems are considered to be the most energy-efficient of solar-powered floor-heating devices, there is a risk of water damage should the tubing be damaged.

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  • Photo Credit solardach image by Holger B. from Fotolia.com

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