Category Archives: Solar Power

More Small Brilliance

This one comes from Next Nature. I’ve fallen in love with this wonderful statement: “It’s an Ivy-like covering of a building that generates power out of sun and wind.”

Cochran’s sustainable design group, SMIT (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) came up with a project called GROW. It’s an Ivy-like covering of a building that generates power out of sun and wind.

Read an interview with Teresita here.

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Solar Water Heater Basics

If you are seeking a simple renewable energy investment for your home a solar water heater may be the answer. Solar water heaters are excellent for the environment and are very cost efficient. Although, most commercial units with solar capacity are sold in the $2,000 price range it is possible to make your own for under $200. In the state of Hawaii there is a new law requiring all new homes to have solar water heaters installed starting in 2010. It is the first state to require energy saving systems in homes. Utilizing units run by solar power will cut thousands of dollars off your yearly electricity bills. It is a great way to go green in your home.

Before you purchase a solar water heater for your home or create a homemade version it is wise to brush up on the basics. Understanding the various types of solar water heaters and how they operate is essential for selecting the right system for your home. The four common types of solar water heaters are old school batch style, passive, active, open-loop system, and closed-loop system. The old school batch style solar water heater is one of the most plain models. It consists of an ordinary water tank which is painted flat-black. It is positioned in an insulated box covered with a glass top. Then the heater is placed on a home’s roof and connected into the houses water system. These units are efficient but they tend to be somewhat slow at times. Old school batch style solar water heaters can also become high maintenance during cold winter months. A passive solar water heater operates using gravity and natural thermo-siphoning action. It is usually placed above a solar thermal collector. This type of solar unit is considered to be an older model much like the old school batch style. They are effective water heaters that do not rely on 12-volt power to run pumps. Passive solar water heater are not designed for one story homes.

An active solar water heater uses a thermal collector positioned on the roof or nearby rack outside. It pumps the water to the collector which then warms through the heat of the sun. This type of solar water heater is recommended for one story homes. You can have an active solar water system in two different variations. The first type of active system is the open-loop system. These units run primarily on portable water directly from the heating tank into the thermal collector. Many individuals who make their own solar water heater prefer this system. It is best for homes in areas that are not cold. If you do use this model of solar heater in an area prone to wintry conditions additional nightly maintenance may be required. The second type of active solar heater is the closed-loop system. It functions using food-grade antifreeze through a heat exchanger called a loop located inside your tank. This model can be a little more expensive than the other systems.

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