Thermal energy can save us from the global electrical crisis. Why spend billions when we have a powerful free provider- the SUN? As technology advances people are shifting towards thermal energy to replace traditional electrical energy. Solar collectors are one such invention that addresses the energy needs of the living community.
Architecturally implementing solar collector devices in the building can increase the efficiency of the building and build a sustainable lifestyle.
Regulation of Thermal Energy
There are two ways thermal energy is regulated in a building structure.
- Passive heating
- Active heating
Passive solar heating
Passive solar heating happens when the thermal energy from the sun enters the building structure through its openings and wall surfaces. These heat energies conduct within the building structure and retain a warmer interior temperature in cold places. While sun shades and blinds are implemented to restrict solar rays and their intensities in warmer places.
Active solar heating
Active solar heating devices have collectors that have fluids and fans or pumps to transport the heated fluid from the collector to a storage tank. After conducting the heat energy to the liquid in the storage tank, the transporting fluid returns to the collectors and gets reheated.
The solar collectors use the active solar heating mechanism to generate heat energy, which is great for domestic usage in residential and commercial buildings. Read on as we discuss how solar collectors increase your building’s efficiency.
What are Solar Collectors? What are they used for?
Solar collectors are devices that collect or concentrate solar radiation from the sun’s rays and convert them into heat or electric energy. These collectors use fluids (air or water) to conduct heat and transport the heated fluid to a heat storage tank for future usage.
Most often, the solar collector and the solar panels are mistaken as the same. Although both similarly use solar rays to heat their devices, their material properties and functional purposes differ.
The collectors absorb solar energy, which heats the fluids and produces electricity by turning turbines. On the other hand, solar panels have photovoltaic cells that convert solar energy directly into electrical energy.
Solar collectors can generate a much more usable form of heat energy by producing hot fluids that can replace traditional water heating devices. It reduces electrical energy consumption and eventually cuts down your electric bills.
Locating these devices on the roofs or the facades allows maximum output. However, doing so also exposes them to be in direct contact with the weather conditions. Therefore, choosing sturdy and high-quality collectors for commercial and residential usage is advisable.
The efficiency of solar collectors is their ability to convert thermal energy into usable heat energy. The performance can vary depending on lots of factors. Some of them are listed below.
- Coverage area- The surface of the device that is positioned directly under the solar rays
- Incident area- Parts of the device that concentrates and focuses the sunlight.
- Incident angle- The intensity varies depending on how titled or angled the collectors are.
- Heat gain or loss during the conduction and convention process.
Choosing the required model of solar collector depends on the geographical location of the building and the intensity of thermal energy the building receives.
Installing solar collectors in your building can provide you with multiple advantages. A few of them are listed below,
- High efficiency and heat tolerance
- No fuel cost, as thermal energy is free and renewable
- No harmful leftovers are emitted, eco-friendlier and protect the nature
- Lower your regular electric bills
- Heat generated can withstand rainy and cloudy consecutive days
- Uses inexpensive materials like mirrors to amplify its efficiency and usage
Solar Collector as an Architectural Element
Solar collectors are already in the market, ruling spots that require temperature control and maintenance as a sustainable approach. The solar collector designs allow them to also participate as a building element to increase the efficiency of the building. Here are a few applications of solar collector devices.
- In a solar cooling system, designers use these collectors to control the interior temperature of the centrally air-conditioned commercial buildings,
- When used in swimming pools, it increases the pool water temperature. The collectors are a cost-effective alternative to the traditional electrical heating system.
- As a supplement heat-storing device, the solar collectors absorb and store the thermal energy in theri storage tank.
The collector device uses the heat energy stored in summer to regulate the cold temperature in winter. Availability of sunlight won’t be a problem, provided they were already installed in the summer.
- You can use the heated water from the storage tanks for domestic purposes like washing and showering.
Solar Collectors on Roof
The solar collector devices attach to the roof of the building. They come as individual modules of different sizes and shapes. However, the maximum area of these modules is generally up to 16 meters square.
Fixing these collectors to the roof tiles is relatively easy and cost-effective. You can customize your modules to the shapes you desire to make them fit exactly on your roof cladding.
Solar Collectors on Façade
Architects are constantly challenging themselves to integrate sustainable solutions into their projects. Using solar collectors on the facades is trending as they play a dual role as they generate energy and function as a facade.
The modules of these collector devices are available in different designs and sizes to suit the building’s style. Moreover, you can also treat them to enhance the aesthetics that match your building’s appearance.
Architecturally implementing renewable elements like solar collectors and solar panels in infrastructures paves the path for a sustainable future. Minor changes in your lifestyle and choices can significantly impact you in the long run.
Global electric demand is skyrocketing. These strain the market’s prices and eventually increase your cost of living. But how long will that even last? Are you still waiting to deplete up to the last ounce of it? Or are you planning to shift toward a more eco-friendlier lifestyle?
The choice is yours.
By Hajara Banu
Hajara Banu is a professional architect, content writer, and strategist. She is on her journey to share her love of architecture, design, and content creation. Besides writing, Hajara loves coffee and often experiments with cooking and organizing in her free time.