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Solar DIY Space Heating Projects

Plans for a wide variety of solar space heating projects you can build.
 

Solar space heating can be 25 or more times more cost effective than solar electric (PV) systems, and the systems are excellent DIY projects.  Payback for these low cost solar heating systems can be as little as one year.


Directory for this page:

  • Basics and Guides

  • Passive space heating systems

  • Active space heating systems - Water

  • Active space heating systems - Air

  • Geothermal heating

  • Geothermal Heat Pumps

  • Heat Distribution for solar systems

  • Insulating underground pipe runs...

  • Reflectors

  • Snow on collectors

  • Components pumps, tanks, heat exchangers...

  • Collector Glazing Materials 

  • Other renewable heating (compost, biofuels, ...)

NEW Information on pumps, heat exchangers, heat storage tanks and other components for solar space heating systems here...

 

More ideas on homemade Solar Space Heating ...

  • The Solar Homes Section has many ideas for solar heating.

  • An attached Sunspace or Greenhouse can provide both heat, space,  and a plant growing area.

  • The Suppliers Section has many suppliers who make solar house heating gear.

  • Components (pumps, tanks, heat exchangers, ...) ...

Questions? 
Report Broken Links ...

Basics and Guides
Solar Heating and You (pdf)


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse

 

A high level (but useful) introduction to solar space heating concepts.   Includes solar flat plate collectors, and sunspaces. 
Includes an interesting and easy experiment you can perform using an existing window and some cardboard.
A good intro for adults and kids.
Solar Livestock Housing Handbook,
MWPS-23, Iowa State University

www.mwps.org/stores/mwps/files/Free/solarlivestockhousing.pdf

 

From the MidWest Plan Service...

This 90 page page book goes through a solar 101 course, and then goes on to cover the design and sizing of several types of solar collectors, and then gives fairly detailed descriptions of 11 solar collector examples. 
While it primarily addresses AG applications of solar, many of the ideas are interesting and and potentially applicable to other solar heating situations. 

(Thanks to Greg for re-finding this book)

Thermal Storage Wall Design Manual
Alex Wilson 
New Mexico Solar Energy Association


ThermalStorageWallDesignManual.pdf (2mb)



The New Mexico Solar Energy Association website ..

This 43 page booklet on thermal storage wall design and construction provides a full design procedure for Trombe and Water Walls, and a great deal of how-to build material as well.  Measured performance is provided for several actual thermal storage walls.  While some of the material is a bit out of date, it is a very valuable and practical resource.

I feel like I had a small part in this, in that I found a copy of this booklet in our local library, and scanned it in so that the NMSEA could put it online.  This book is part of the NMSEA technical library.  Their technical library is very extensive, and they are trying to work out a way to get more of it online -- you might give them some encouragement in this direction, or volunteer to help them!  More info here: http://nmsea.org/lib/
Pump and Plumbing Sizing for Solar Water or Space Heating System

Details on solar pump/pipe sizing...

This page covers the details of sizing the pump and the plumbing for a solar space or water heating system so that the system efficiently transfers heat from the collector to the storage tank without being excessively large.

Details on solar pump/pipe sizing...

How Much Collector Area Do I Need To Heat My House?

Or, Estimating Solar Heating Fraction
 

Details ...

This is a question I get asked a lot.  Its a tough question that depends on many things, but here is a method that you can use to get a pretty good idea what your solar faction is likely to be for your collector array...

Its fairly lengthy to use, but not difficult.

Passive Space Heating

 

Home Power Magazine article -- issue 117 Feb/Mar 07.

This is a simple way to turn your garage into a delightful solar heated and lighted workshop or studio.
 

 

 


 


 

 

 


An Alternative to Building Your Own Doors:  Here is a variation on this scheme suggested by Ed that uses commercially available doors instead to the home made doors .   Details ...

 

Another alternative from Scott:

"I had a tent company sew a giant clear vinyl curtain to cover my garage door. Put a zipper on both sides, and can roll it up when not needed. Cost me $200 total. Works great as my garage faces south."
Pictures and details...

A Water Wall Solar Design Manual (2 MB pdf)
David Bainbridge
Marshall Goldsmith School of Management

More information on Water Walls from David ...

 

Water walls offer cost effective, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing thermal storage for passive solar heating systems.  This design manual covers many types of water walls, and shows how they can be used in solar designs to provide thermal mass.

 

A Passive Solar Space Heater For Home Use,
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

 

www.solar-components.com/SOLARKAL.HTM

 

 

Note that there are 3 collectors on this page, this description applies to the bottom one -- "A Passive Solar Space Heater for Home Use"

This solar space heater takes advantage of existing windows to avoid cutting holes in your house.  You could probably do it on a rental.  Very simple -- no fans, no wiring.
It will provide more heat than the small window attached collectors below, and has a hinged cover that protects the collector in the summer, and reflects more sunlight onto the collector in the winter.  You do not want to allow the sun to shine through the glazing onto the ground (it will just lose heat to the ground) -- have something to intercept the sun in the collector space.  The glazing could be the Sunlite HP mentioned, or corrugated Polycarbonate.
Collector area makes more difference than any other parameter, so make it as big as you can -- size maters in solar collectors.
Solar Heated Ice Fishing Shack

All the details from Bob...

Solar collectors are not just for heating homes -- Bob uses this very simple and effective thermosyphon solar air heating collector to heat his ice fishing shack.

It cost almost nothing to build, and heats the insulated fishing shack very well.

All the details from Bob...
Solar window heater

http://www.jrwhipple.com/sr/solheater.html

A simple solar thermosyphon heater that connects directly to a window.

Maine Solar Primer "Sun Grabber"

Maine Solar Energy Association

Plans for a simple thermosyphon air collector that connects to an existing window.

Courtesy of the Main Solar Energy Association

Mother's "Heat Grabber"

Mother Earth News

http://www.motherearthnews.com

 

A nice complete set of plans to build a below window solar collector.  The collector uses a small part of the bottom of an existing window for the entry and exit vents.
Michigan Renewable Energy and Efficiency Success Stories

 

http://urbanoptions.org/...

 

 

A thermosyphon wall collector.

“TAP” The Sun – The easy, low-cost way to add solar heat to your mobile home or metal outbuilding.

Luke Elliot

www.motherearthnews.com 

 

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 91 Jan/Feb 1985

How to article on building a Thermosyphoning Air Panel (TAP) solar collector to heat a mobile home or a metal walled building.  Sufficient detail to build the project.  This 18 sqft collector costs less than a hundred dollars in materials. 
This is a durable metal and glass construction collector, and should last the life of the building.

Maine Solar Primer Air Heater

Maine Solar Energy Association

A simple, wall mounted thermosyphon solar air collector.

Courtesy of the Maine Solar Energy Association

Integrating Light Transmitting Sheets for Skylights in Roofing and Siding -- Installation Guide

From Suntuf

Details on how to integrate plastic glazing panels in roofs or walls to provide lighting and solar gain.

From the Suntuf website www.suntuf.com

Passive Solar Shop Heating

Canada Plan Service

A very simple and inexpensive solar heating scheme for shop or barn that integrates a thermosyphon collector into the south wall structure.

From the Canada Plan Service:
www.cps.gov.on.ca

Solar Heating a Workshop in Madison County, Iowa,
DeSoto Solar

http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/SC_Madison/

 

This very nice project description shows a fairly large installation of DeSoto solar air collectors for shop heating.
One interesting aspect of this installation is how well the collectors are integrated with the shop wall, and how nice the collectors look from the outside and inside -- seems like this approach would work just as well in a house.
DeSoto Solar is run by Morris Dovey who can usually be found at the alt.solar.thermal newsgroup.
Warm Your Swine With Sunshine,
Mother Earth News, May/June 1979

www.motherearthnews.com/ ...

(if this link does not bring up the article, search the MEN archive for "Warm your swine with sunshine")

This is actually a pretty slick and simple 1979 solar air heating collector.  It is integrated into the barn style roof, and would be very inexpensive to build.  The increase in price over a conventional roof would be quite small -- maybe less than $1 per sqft!
Seems like it would also work well for gambrel roofs on the steep slope.
This one is used for heating a swine barn, but it could as easily be used in two legged applications.
Keeping the pipes from freezing when away

Full Details ...

 

Several methods to keep the pipes from freezing in your home or vacation home when you are away without burning fuel.

Includes plug in window solar collector/insulator panels, and a plumbing drain system, and others...
Full details...
Active Space Heating -- Water Heating Systems
Solar Heat for My Maine Workshop
Guy Marsden
 

Guy's outstanding website:
www.arttec.net/Solar/BarnHeat.html

 

Home Power magazine article, issue 89

Excellent article on designing and building a solar radiant floor system for a detached workshop. Lots of design and construction detail. Blow-by-blow construction highs and lows also described.

Solar Panel Heating Project

 

All the details:
http://feher.homelinux.org/solar/

 

 

This is a detailed description of Jim's solar space heating system.  Jim was able to add quite a bit of solar collector area to his existing home in a very aesthetically pleasing way.  The collectors were made by Jim and friends using commercially available absorber plates.
This is a drain back system with a large, fiberglass storage tank.  Note the seasonal use of reflectors that increase collector output by about 20%.  Lots of good detail on Jim's site about the project.
 
Large Drainback System for Home and Hot Tub

www.solarbair.com/articles/horsecreekarticle.html

Eric's site home page:
www.solarbair.com

This is a very nicely designed and built system by Eric.  The system includes 320 sqft of drainback collector supplying heat for both Eric's home and hot tub.  The storage for the system is a precast underground tank that is quite cost effective.  A conventional boiler is integrated into the system for back up heating.  A very nice system explained well.
Thom's 24 X 8 Solar Space & Water Heating System

http://www.krystofiak.com/solar/intro.html

 

 

This is a nicely done and large solar system that provided both space and domestic water heating.    This is a drain back system with the storage tank located 50 ft away from the collectors in the house.  The collectors are modeled on the  lot of thought into this design, and provides a lot of detail. 
There is also a very good section on what to do when things don't work quite right at first.
Scott's 24X8 ft Solar Space Heating Collector

Detals ...

 

This is Scott's very unique collector.  It is built as one single unit that is 24 ft wide by 8 ft high.  The absorber is a wide version of the PEX/aluminum collector.
The ground mount and single unit construction make for an attractive and easier to build collector.  Details ...
Kris's solar water and space heating system

Details on system installation...

Kris's main page on solar projects...

This is Kris's very nicely done solar space and water heating system. 

Lots of details on tank and heat exchanger design.  Lots of nice clean mechanical details.

Large Solar Space Heating Collector Built On Shipping Container

 

http://greengateguesthouse.blogspot.com/search/label/Solar Projects

If this link does not bring up the project, go to the "Blog Posts" area, and click on "Solar Projects".

Shawn uses a large surplus shipping container as a combination storage area and a place to mount a large, 9 bay solar collector.

The harvested heat goes via an buried and insulated pipeline to the house to be used for heating.
He provides quite a bit of construction detail for the project.
The system is just nearing completion at this time.

This is a project from the Green Gate Guest House blog -- there are lots of other good energy and homesteading related posts on this blog.

Low Cost Solar House Heating

Chester Johnson and Joel Chinkes

Home Power Magazine article, issue 59

Home Power Magazine article, issue 59

Very good article on a solar hydronic heating system.  Home made solar collectors of a unique design heat water to circulate in a radiant floor heating system.  Good construction detail.  Very simple system.   Very cost effective.

DIY Combination Solar Water and Home Heating System
Renew Magazine Article

Article (260  pdf)

Article from Renew Magazine, Issue 80

Interesting article on a very large and completely home built solar collector and storage system.

Daycreek.com Solar Heating System

http://daycreek.com/dc/html/house_specs.htm

The www.Daycreek.com main page provides access to quite a bit of interesting solar material.

NEW: Update on the  sand bed storage system: http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/journal050509.html

This is an interesting active solar heating system that uses 400 sqft of solar water collectors to circulate solar heated fluid through a 100 ton sand bed below the house floor.
A fairly detailed description of the system is provided. 
Hydronic Heating on Renewable Energy
Rod Hyatt

 

Another good general article on radiant heating:
www.oregon.gov/...


 

Home Power Magazine article, issue 79

Very good article on implementing a hydronic radiant floor heating system in an off grid house using PV powered pumps. Lots of detail on installation of the hydronic heating system.

Radiant Floor Company

http://www.radiantcompany.com/details/

 

 

 

Lots of good installation and design detail on this site.
Radiantec -- radiant floor heating systems 

Installation manuals:
http://www.radiantec.com/installation.htm

Info Library:
http://www.radiantsolar.com/libraryindex.html

 

Radiantec provides a several useful manuals on the design and installation of radiant floor heating systems, including systems with solar heat sources.
The Library provides quite a bit of material on solar heating fundamentals, papers, ...
IPEX Radiant Floor Heating

May 7,2010: The Ipex technical library and the their radiant floor design software seem to have gone away -- Please let me know if you find them elsewhere.

http://www.ipexinc.com

The IPEX "technical library" contains some excellent documents for the design and installation of radiant floors.  IPEX is a supplier of radiant floor components.
Radiant Heating Circuit Diagrams

http://www.houseneeds.com

 

 

Hydronic heating system system diagrams for various heat sources.   Can be adapted for solar collectors.
Radiant Floor Retrofit Details

Radiant Floor Company

The Details Page:
http://www.radiantcompany.com/details/

Heat Sources:
http://www.radiantcompany.com/heatsources/

The Radiant Floor Company provides some nice detail on several ways to install  a radiant floor either in new construction or as a retrofit.  Good pictures.


Radiant floor heating works well with solar because it can make use of relatively low temperature hot water that solar systems produce more efficiently. 
I would be more careful about insulation issues than they are in places.

Infloor Radiant Heat Downloads

http://www.infloor.com/downloads.html

Infloor's download page includes some useful information for doing solar radiant floors.

Including, A fairly detailed 68 page radiant floor design manual.
 
Green From the Ground Up,
Jim McKnight, Mark Klein & Laura Lee,
Home Power magazine issue 122

 

Description of a home that combines an efficient envelope, solar passive heating, solar hot water, masonry heater, and solar electricity to produce a very efficient and green home.
The radiant floor heating system can accept heat from solar, the masonry heater, or a gas boiler via a shared heat storage tank.
Insulation Under Radiant Slabs

www.blueridgecompany.com/ ... (pdf)

 

 

Good article on under slab insulation for radiant heated floors.

Compares three types of insulation to no insulation.
Rigid foam insulations do well, but the bubble pack style of insulation is worthless.

Water Collector Plans

plan link

A not too detailed set of plans for a flat plate solar collector from Mother Earth news
Double Play -- An Experimental Solar Heating and Cooling System
Steve Baer



and the Zomeworks site

http://www.zomeworks.com
Search the Zomeworks site for "Double Play"

Roof Integrated Solar Absorbers
Home Power magazine article, issue 102

This innovative system uses unglazed collectors that are integrated with the roof structure and a unique thermal storage system to provide solar thermal heating in the winter and radiation cooling in the summer. Amazing!

The pdf report provides detailed performance measurements from the FSEC & NREL.

This scheme is perhaps a bit on the bleeding edge, but it seems promising to me, and might be good for the adventurous.

Making or Buying Collector Fins
How to make collector fins and evaluate collector fin designs

How to make and evaluate collector fin designs...

This article covers the various ways people have worked out for making the heat absorbing fins for collectors, fin performance, and some construction tips.

How to make and evaluate collector fin designs...

Modified Trickle Down Collector (MTD)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Canivans website with more MTD information ...

These are two new versions of the Thomason Trickle Down Collector from Richard Heiliger.
They use less expensive materials, are easier to build, and are likely to be more efficient.

 


Version 1: This design uses all plastic internals with a metal frame.  The emphasis is on low cost and ease of construction with good durability.

Version 2 This design uses all metal construction with a felt coated metal absorber, and a metal frame.  The emphasis for this design is on high durability and long life. 

Both designs are well thought out, perform well, and are described with great "how-to" detail (more than 80 pages of construction detail all told).
 

Active Space Heating -- Air Heating Systems
Solar Air Heating Systems

Steve Kornher with Andy Zaugg

 

 

This is a fine book on designing and building solar air collectors and solar air heating systems of many types.  Very good on design, very good on construction.  Covers both active and passive air collectors.  Highly recommended.
Model-TEA Solar Heating System - Construction Manual, Peter L. Temple, Jennifer A. Adams

 

Full details ...

 

 

 

 

See the next entry for an example of a recently constructed collector based on this TEA design

This 1980 book describes a solar air heating system using a solar air heating collector.  The collector is integrated into the roof or wall, and can be quite large -- up to several hundred square feet. 
The design is very well thought out, and extensive testing was done on the design to assure high performance and long life.  The collectors are: simple in construction, use commonly available materials and tools, and look great. Integrating the collectors into the home structure saves materials and labor. 
The book covers system sizing, collector construction, heat storage  construction, and a ducting, fan and control system.  The construction drawings and instructions are very detailed and very well done.

Thanks to the Peter for allowing this material to be made available here!
MOFGA Solar Air Heating Collector,
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

www.mofga.org/Default.aspx?tabid=488

 

This solar air heating collector utilizes the full south wall of the building.  The collector air flow path is horizontal across the full wall width.  There are vertical manifolds on the left and right sides.  This makes for a simple collector design with straight flow paths that are long enough for a good temperature rise, and that spread the airflow very evenly over the full absorber surface.
I think this is a good candidate for full wall collectors, and could be used for home or shop heating as a retrofit or in new construction.

The design of this collector is based on the TEA design just above.

Ron's Solar Air Heater

http://solarairheater.lampresource.com/

 

This is a solar air collector built to the ground rules of the book just above.

Ron even figured out a way to do this without cutting holes in the wall by making use of two existing basement windows.

The 60 sqft collector is durable metal and glass construction and was built at a very reasonable cost.

Solar Hot Air System Design,
Chuck Marken, Home Power Magazine issue 98, and 99
www.solarminnesota.org/heatbuilding/hpsolarhotair1.pdf
www.solarminnesota.org/heatbuilding/hpsolarhotair2.pdf

Made available by Solar Minnesota:
http://www.solarminnesota.org/

Note: I am unable to find www.SolarMinnesota.org anymore -- if you know where they have gone to, please let me know.
 

A good two part Home Power article on designing and installing solar heating air collectors.
Solar air collectors offer a simple way to get free solar heat -- less complex and easier to build and install than solar water collectors.
Two Solar Air Heating Collectors with Absorbers from Aluminum Gutter Downspouts

 

 

Two solar air heating collectors that use aluminum gutter downspouts as the absorber.  
One is a very low profile collector that minimizes visual impact, and the other a large collector that can be disassembled and removed for the summer. 
The aluminum downspout absorber provides an easy way to get both good flow distribution and lots of heat transfer area.
Wayne's Solar Air Collector

http://www.atlanticenergy.ca

 

A new idea in solar air collectors. 
Their website currently shows enough pictures to get a good idea how to build it, and promises more information soon. 
A little more info here.
Glen and Ronny's Solar Heater Project

https://sites.google.com/site/glenssolarheater/

 

Homemade solar air collector using one continuous length of aluminum flex duct folded into a serpentine pattern.

A nice simple design.

Good pictures and details.

Beer Can Solar Air Heating Collector

 

Original Hungarian version:
http://napenergia.freeweb.hu/gyak/szp/sztgyi.htm

English Translation:
http://www.freeweb.hu/napenergia/gyak/szp/sztgyi_en.htm

More...
http://www.sorkollektor.hu/eng/?p=8

And another from Brian ...

This is a nicely done and well documented version of the alum beer can collector design -- similar to the CanSolar commercial collectors.

 


 

A pretty good video on the CanSolar collector with some construction detail ...

Pop Can Collector from Sweden

www.brunzell.com/projekt/solfangare/steg1.htm

 

 

A large, and very nicely built aluminum can collector from Sweden.   The builder provides a very detailed description of the construction with excellent pictures.  Lots of attention to detail and some new features.

The article is in Swedish, but the Google translation toolbar does a pretty good job, and the pictures are very good.

Brian's Pop Can Solar Heater

http://sites.google.com/site/brianshomebrewsolar/

 

A nice set of picture plans for a 20 sqft pop can solar heater.

A couple notes: Don't use the polystyrene insulation shown it will melt if the collector stagnates.  Use polyisocyanurate (e.g Altals R-Board) -- most lumber yards carry some brand of polyiso.  A thermal snap switch makes an easier controller...

Very low cost Solar Shop Heater,
Don R. and George Waterman

http://www.motherearthnews.com

 

 

Mother Earth News article, Issue 48, Nov/Dec 1977 describes a very simple homemade collector for heating a shop.
The cost is kept down to almost nothing by using poly film glazing and some scrounged parts.

If you can scrounge the blower from an old furnace and find some used lumber, this collector probably takes the prize for lowest cost per square foot -- about 10 cents per sqft.  The payback period where I live is well under a month!

Building an inexpensive solar heating panel

www.mobilehomerepair.com/article17solar.htm

 

 

 

Article from Mobile Home Repairs on building a wall mounted solar air collector with PV driven fan circulation.  Very complete How-To instructions.
Building and Installing a Solar Air Heater at Abundance Foundation,
Stephen Hren

http://www.thecarbonfreehome.com/

 

This is a very nicely done and relatively easy to build solar air heating collector.  The collector fan is powered by a PV panel, which also acts as the controller.

Looks like they had a lot of fun building it!

The pdf file provides very clear instructions with lots of photos of the build and installation.

Solar Hot Air System Design
Chuck Marken


 

Home Power magazine article, issue 98

Overview of solar air collector features, applications and pro/con.  Limited system design and sizing info.

Mother’s Mobile Home Mini-Manual

www.motherearthnews.com

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 95 Sept/Oct 1985

Fairly detailed plans for a solar space heater intended for mobile homes (but probably adaptable to many situations).
Good construction diagrams.

This Old Trailer

Terry Ziegler

 

Home Power Magazine article, issue 64

Very good article on adding solar space heating, water heating, a wind generator, and energy conservation features to a trailer. The solar air collector system is somewhat unique and well thought out.

28 Years of Tinkering

Steen Hansen Hviid

 

Homepower Magazine article, issue 56

A report on a 70’s style active solar air collector system for a house that uses rock bin storage.  Some information on the design and construction of the system, and 30 years of experience living with the system, which is still doing well.  Also, some information on a PV and wind systems that were added later.

Experiments With Solar Air Collectors
Ralf Seip
Home Power Magazine article, issue 72

Good detailed article on building a simple solar air collector.
Lots of data on construction and performance.

Large Active Air Collector

Fitch Consulting

www.s101470521.onlinehome.us/12001.html

 

Quite a bit of detail on a solar space heating system that uses a large active solar air collector, as well as evacuated tube collectors.  The system has saved $8500 since  since 1994, and provides about 60% of the house energy bill.
Solar Heating -- Three in One
David Sweetman

 

Home Power Magazine article issue 101

Description of a solar thermal heating system in Nevada that provides some space heating, hot water heating, and spa.  Limited hands-on information.

The Appalachian Solar Lumber Kiln,
Dennis Scanlin, Appalachian State University

Home Power Magazine, issue 63, Feb 1998

www.homepower.com/view/...

Note: I've included this wood drying kiln in this section because the collector design is very interesting and could be incorporated in a roof for space heating.
A well thought out design for a solar lumber drying kiln.  The article includes good design, construction, and performance detail.

The design uses a solar air heating collector with a flow through absorber.  The collector comprises the full south face of the kiln.  Air is circulated though the absorber with 3 12 VDC fans driven by a single PV panel.
(thanks to Loran for suggesting this article)
Build a Solar Attic,
Rob, www.IWillTry.org

This is a really interesting scheme by Rob to use the existing attic and roof for collection -- but still experimental -- so allow for some challenges if you go this way.

www.iwilltry.org/b/projects/solar-attic/

 

This is a very nice project to incorporate a solar heating collector into a home's basic roof structure.

Rob describes in detail the first stage of incorporating the collector glazing into his new roof. 
He will now experiment with various sort of collector designs behind the glazing.  Add a comment into his blog to encourage him to keep us up to date on how he is doing! 
(thanks to Erik for suggesting this link)
Geothermal Heating
Geothermal Hot Tubing

Michael Hackleman

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine Article, Issue 109

Article on using a geothermal hot spring as a heating source for hot tub and space heating.  The system uses a custom built heat exchanger made from copper pipe coils to transfer heat from the hot spring.

Geo-Heat Center

Technical (and not so technical) publications on Geothermal heating and heat pumps.

http://geoheat.oit.edu/techpap.htm

The Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology provides a lot of information on Geothermal heating and on Geothermal Heat Pumps.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
EERE info on Geothermal Heat Pumps

www.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/heatpumps.html

Heat pumps come in a dazzling array of variations -- here is a place to start:

EERE on Geothermal Heat Pumps

The EERE provides some good basic information on both geothermal and air source heat pumps. 

When you look at heat pump "efficiencies" of 300% and more, please bear in mind that this does not include the inefficiency of the 30% efficient coal fired power plant where the electricity to run the heat pump was probably generated.  From the earth's point of view, heat pumps may not be the best pollution solution. 
Energy conservation coupled with some solar heating may be more cost effective, lower maintenance, and less polluting than a geothermal heat pump.

Heat From The Earth -- A Heat Pump Primer
John Lynch
 

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power magazine article, issue 98

A good overview of ground source heat pumps with some limited sizing and design information.

Builder Guide to Geothermal Heat Pumps

Bruce Harley

Builder's Guide to GeoThermal.pdf

 

Guide to planning, installing and maintaining ground source heat pumps.
Earth Energy System -- A Buyers Guide

Natural Resources Canada

http://www.canren.gc.ca

 

A good 44 page guide on ground source heat pumps from Natural Resources Canada. 
Green Building Talk

www.greenbuildingtalk.com/Forums/ ...
 
Provides some useful links on GSHP's that seems to be fairly even handed.  Much of the material out there on GSHPs tends to be on the optimistic (sometimes wildly optimistic) side.
Are electrically powered heat pumps good?

Gary

Do geothermal heat pumps really reduce greenhouse gases compared to a modern gas furnace?
Are there better options?
Measured Performance of Five Residential Geothermal Systems,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

www.toolbase.org

 

 

This report provides actual measured performance data for 5 geothermal heat pumps installed in residences in Ohio.
Covers heating, cooling and water heating performance, including measured COP's.  The systems were carefully instrumented -- a lot of useful and interesting data is provided.
Some Vertical Well Geothermal Heat Pump Construction Pictures
From www.OurCoolHouse.com

 

 

 

Some pictures on installing the vertical ground loops in wells for a geothermal heat pump system, and some of the equipment room installation.
 
True DIY Heat Pump Projects

The Homemade Heat Pump Manifesto...

 

Multi part EcoRenovator blog on DIY GSHP...

 

These are two long (as in 22 pages) posts on completely DIY ground source heat pump projects.  The heat pump units are made from salvaged AC units.  The projects even include homemade rigs to drill the boreholes for the geo exchange loops.  Very good detail.

The EcoRenovator site and forum have some fascinating, unusual, and hard core DIY energy projects.

Heat Distribution
This section covers hardware and techniques for distributing the heat from a solar heating system to a house or other building.
Radiant Floor Heat Distribution

Solar Shed radiant floor system...

Radiant Floor Company...

Radiantec Company...

Radiant (hydronic) floors are ideal for distributing solar heat because the operate a low temperatures, which solar systems produce more efficiently.
 
Hydronic Baseboard Heaters

Heat output from baseboard heaters at low temperatures...

 

Conventional hot water baseboard heaters can be used to distribute heat from solar systems.  Typically solar systems produce lower temperatures than boilers, so more baseboard heater length is needed for a given heat output.  The link to the left gives heat output for SlantFin brand baseboard heaters at low temperatures.
Quite often, all that is needed is enough baseboard to distribute the collected solar heat for one sunny day, which can be quite reasonable.
Hydronic Wall Radiator

http://greengateguesthouse.blogspot.com/...

 

This is a very nicely done built in hydronic wall radiator.
It works in the same way as a radiant floor, but the PEX tubes are run behind the wall sheetrock instead of under the finished floor.

Shawn describes this in a blog post on his Green Gate Guest House project blog.
Shawn estimates about 35 to 40 BTU/sqft output with 115F water.

PEX Coil Radiator This is a radiator that Richard Heiliger made from PEX tubing.  Hot water is pumped through it, and it radiates heat to the room.

It can be covered with a cloth screen for aesthetics.  PEX tubing can also be embedded in a wall behind sheetrock.

 

A large wall radiator project

http://amet.pierre.free.fr/yvesgern/MursChauffants/...

 

This is a detailed description of a large wall radiator.  In this case, the builder filled in the area that the wall tubes occupy with plaster --presumably to improve heat transfer and increase thermal mass.
This is in French.  If you are French impaired (like me), the pictures are very good, and the Google translating tool does a pretty good job.

(Thanks to Walter for sending the links to these wall radiators)

Solar Heating By Wall Heater

http://amet.pierre.free.fr/beaujard/beaujard.html

 

This is another wall radiator with a good set of pictures -- the one just above is based on this one.

This one is also in French.  If you are French impaired Google translator and the good pictures are your friends.

 

A Commercial Wall Radiant Heater System

http://www.asv.no/en/...

 

This is a commercial wall radiant heating scheme from Norway.  You add it onto the surface of an existing wall and pump 90F ish water though it for heating.
Its a bit like a radiant floor system installed on a wall.
Its in Norwegian, but Google translator is your friend.
(Thanks to Rolf for sending this in)
Homemade Pipe Radiator These pictures show a radiator that is used to heat the visitors center in Dawson City, Yukon Territory -- according to the staff it does an outstanding job.

More pictures...

Water to Air Heat Exchangers

http://www.magicaire.com/

http://www.heatexchangersonline.com/airtowater.htm

 

A number of suppliers make water to air heat exchangers that can be inserted in an existing hot air heating system to add solar heat.

Two example suppliers listed to left.

From the MagicAire specs, it looks like a 17 by 22 inch, 2 row unit, at 900 cfm airflow and 4 gpm water flow with a water temp of 120F would provide about 24,000 BTU per hour. 

Storage Tank Radiator The thermal storage tank that stores heat for a solar heating system could be located in the living space, and act as a radiator to heat the living space.  Some form of movable insulation could be used to regulate heat output.  This sounds a bit primitive, but I suspect it would actually work quite well -- especially in cases where solar heat is supplemental to other heating (as it usually is).
Low-Cost Active Heat Storage,
Nathan Hurst and Paul Harrison,
ReNew Issue 100

Low-Cost Active Heat Storage pdf ....
 

The article describes a way to use a car radiator and water tank as an inexpensive way to  store heat from a greenhouse.

In most cases, when a greenhouse or sunspace heat is used to heat an attached house, hot air from the GH is blown into the house for immediate use.  This paper shows a simple way to store GH heat for use later.

This technique can be used for any water to air or air to water heat distribution situation -- e.g. plumb hot water from a solar heated storage tank to the radiator located in the space to be heated.
Car radiators turn out to be very effective water to air heat exchangers and can be had for a low price.
(thanks to Nathan for making this available)

Water to Water Heat Exchanger from PEX Coil

 

Details...

This is a good job of forming a 300 ft coil of 1 inch diameter PEX into a coil style heat exchanger with very uniform spacing around each coil of the PEX.

Details...

 

Heat Distribution from Solar Air Heating Collectors Often the heat air from a solar air heating collector can just be "dumped" directly into the living space.  If the air does not get distributed well enough, a slow moving ceiling can can be used to distribute the air.

This is one of the nice things about using air heating collectors -- the distribution can usually be quite simple.

A blower and ducts can also be used to distribute the hot air from solar air heating collectors.

Insulating Underground Pipes

See the Components Page->Pipe Insulation for info on above ground and below ground pipe insulation.
   
Reflectors
Reflector/Shades,
Steve Baer, Zomeworks Corporation

 

http://zomeworks.com ... (pdf)

 

A good paper by Steve Baer reviewing the use of seasonally moveable reflectors to increase solar heat gain in the winter, and reduce unwanted heat gain in the summer.
A nice mix of solar physics and practical how-to that Steve has gained in the building of many of these types of reflector systems over the years.
Keeping Snow Off Collectors
Snow accumulation on collectors In some areas, snow accumulating on collectors can be a problem.  Evacuated tube collectors tend to be worse in this regard because the snow is slow to melt off,  but, it can be a problem on any collector. 
Usual solutions include:

- Steeper tilt to shed show
- Locating panels where they can be cleaned with a long handle brush or "roof rake"
- Locating collectors on the ground where they are easily cleaned.

It should be noted that in most areas, snow accumulation is not really a problem.

Rain X to keep collectors snow free?

Details...

 

Chad suggests trying Rain X to keep collectors free of snow/ice.
Sounds promising to me.

Details...

Avalanche Roof Rake

www.avalanche-snow.com/index.asp

 

 

Jeff reported have good luck with removing snow from roof mounted collectors with this version of a roof rake.

This version has wheels, a snow cutting blade, and trails a slippery "tail" that the snow can slide down on.
This may too rough a tool for evacuated tube collectors?

Self Cleaning Solar Collectors

http://rimstar.org/...

 

This is an innovative solution to snow accumulation in cases where dead airflow areas cause snow accumulation. 

The vane added to the top of the panel directs wind flow into the dead spots.

Solar Space Heating Components
 

Information on pumps, tanks, heat exchangers, controllers, ...

 

 
Collector Glazing Materials
Comparison of Solar Collector Glazing Materials...

Gary

 

A comparison of glass, corrugated polycarbonate, sheet polycarbonate, and other potential glazing materials for DIY solar collectors.
Other Renewable Energy Heating -- Compost, Biofuels, ...
Heating with compost... Several schemes for using the heat generated by the composting process for space heating or water heating or greenhouse heating.
Heating with biofuels ... Many schemes for using biofuels of all types for space and water heating.
Tom's 330 sqft Solar Space Heating System

Full design and construction details...

 

Tom's other projects fine on BuildItSolar...

Tom's very well done  solar system for heating the house and domestic water heating.  This is a great project with details on design and construction of a large solar collector array, a large thermal storage tank that doubles as a work bench, integrating solar and wood boiler heat sources in the same system, a very nice heat exchanger fabricated from rigid copper pipe, and details on integrating radiant heating with solar. 

This is Tom's 3rd generation of building solar water heating collectors, and he has incorporated refinements in each generation -- the collectors are  efficient and well proven..
The Solar Shed for House Heating

Solar Shed House Heater

Gary

Solar Shed article in the Dec 2007 Mother Earth News ------------>

Some great new illustrations, diagrams, and full how-to build information.
 

This is the setup I use to solar heat my house.  It uses 240 sqft of solar water heating collectors mounted on a new garden shed.  Heat is stored in a 500 gallon tank that lives in the shed.  Heated water is piped to the house as required via insulated underground pipes.
Excruciating detail is provided :)
Solar Space & Water Heating System -- With Folding Collectors!

All the details...

This is a very well done space and water heating system.  It has a unique folding collector arrangement that varies collector area by season.  Kenneth is a very good craftsman, and has worked out some good new tools and techniques for building collectors.
All the details...
Solar Heat for My Maine Workshop
Guy Marsden
 

Guy's outstanding website:
www.arttec.net/Solar/BarnHeat.html

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power magazine article, issue 89

Excellent article on designing and building a solar radiant floor system for a detached workshop. Lots of design and construction detail. Blow-by-blow construction highs and lows also described.

Solar Panel Heating Project

 

All the details:
http://feher.homelinux.org/solar/

 

 

This is a detailed description of Jim's solar space heating system.  Jim was able to add quite a bit of solar collector area to his existing home in a very aesthetically pleasing way.  The collectors were made by Jim and friends using commercially available absorber plates.
This is a drain back system with a large, fiberglass storage tank.  Note the seasonal use of reflectors that increase collector output by about 20%.  Lots of good detail on Jim's site about the project.
 
Paul's House Heating -- Solar Shed

Details here...

A solar hot water heating system with capacity for future space heating. 
Collectors are mounted on new storage shed with hot water piped to house.
A well done system at a very low cost.
Details here...
Large Drainback System for Home and Hot Tub

www.solarbair.com/articles/horsecreekarticle.html

Eric's site home page:
www.solarbair.com

This is a very nicely designed and built system by Eric.  The system includes 320 sqft of drainback collector supplying heat for both Eric's home and hot tub.  The storage for the system is a precast underground tank that is quite cost effective.  A conventional boiler is integrated into the system for back up heating.  A very nice system explained well.
Scott's 24X8 ft Solar Space Heating Collector

Details ...

 

This is Scott's very unique collector.  It is built as one single unit that is 24 ft wide by 8 ft high.  The absorber is a wide version of the PEX/aluminum collector.
The ground mount and single unit construction make for an attractive and easier to build collector.  Details ...
Chad's Solar Home Heating System

Details here...

 

Chad uses 6 4X8ft collectors mounted on his shop to heat his home, which is 200 ft away.  The collectors are based on these copper/aluminum collectors with some refinements for Chad's situation.  The collectors pivot to allow the tilt to be adjusted.
This is a closed loop system with antifreeze for freeze protection.
Details here...

Low Cost Solar House Heating

Chester Johnson and Joel Chinkes

 

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 59

Very good article on a solar hydronic heating system.  Home made solar collectors of a unique design heat water to circulate in a radiant floor heating system.  Good construction detail.  Very simple system.   Very cost effective.

DIY Combination Solar Water and Home Heating System
Renew Magazine Article

Article (260  pdf)

Article from Renew Magazine, Issue 80

Interesting article on a very large and completely home built solar collector and storage system.

The Thomason Trickle Collector

 

 


Dr. Harry Thomason invented the simple solar collector that heats water by trickling it down the channels of a corrugated roof under glazing.  This very simple collector is used in a number of residential and commercial building.  He also invented an number of other solar heating and cooling concepts. 
These descriptions of Dr. Thomason's patents and related articles provide quite a bit of design information.
(thanks to Nick Pine for providing these)
Daycreek.com Solar Heating System

http://daycreek.com/dc/html/house_specs.htm

The www.Daycreek.com main page provides access to quite a bit of interesting solar material.

NEW: Update on the  sand bed storage system: http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/journal050509.html

This is an interesting active solar heating system that uses 400 sqft of solar water collectors to circulate solar heated fluid through a 100 ton sand bed below the house floor.
A fairly detailed description of the system is provided. 
Hydronic Heating on Renewable Energy
Rod Hyatt

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Another good general article on radiant heating:
www.oregon.gov/...


 

Home Power Magazine article, issue 79

Very good article on implementing a hydronic radiant floor heating system in an off grid house using PV powered pumps. Lots of detail on installation of the hydronic heating system.

Radiant Floor Company

http://www.radiantcompany.com/details/

 

 

 

Lots of good installation and design detail on this site.
Radiantec -- radiant floor heating systems 

Installation manuals:
http://www.radiantec.com/installation.htm

Info Library:
http://www.radiantsolar.com/libraryindex.html

 

Radiantec provides a several useful manuals on the design and installation of radiant floor heating systems, including systems with solar heat sources.
The Library provides quite a bit of material on solar heating fundamentals, papers, ...
Manual of Modern Hydronics,
 

Sections 1-4... (pdf)
Sections 5-8... (pdf)
Sections 9-12... (pdf)
Appendix... (pdf)
Components... (pdf)

 

Very good manual on designing and installing hydronic heating systems.  Does not include any information on solar as a heat source, so look to the other refs listed in the section for that, but solar works well as a heat source for radiant floor heating.

This manual used to be available at the Ipex/Warmrite site, but no more, so I'm temporarily providing copies here.  If you know of an "official" source, please let me know.
IPEX Radiant Floor Heating

May 7,2010: The Ipex technical library and the their radiant floor design software seem to have gone away -- Please let me know if you find them elsewhere.

http://www.ipexinc.com

The IPEX "technical library" contains some excellent documents for the design and installation of radiant floors.  IPEX is a supplier of radiant floor components.
Radiant Heating Circuit Diagrams

http://www.houseneeds.com

 

 

Hydronic heating system system diagrams for various heat sources.   Can be adapted for solar collectors.
Radiant Floor Retrofit Details

Radiant Floor Company

The Details Page:
http://www.radiantcompany.com/details/

Heat Sources:
http://www.radiantcompany.com/heatsources/

The Radiant Floor Company provides some nice detail on several ways to install  a radiant floor either in new construction or as a retrofit.  Good pictures.


Radiant floor heating works well with solar because it can make use of relatively low temperature hot water that solar systems produce more efficiently. 
I would be more careful about insulation issues than they are in places.

Infloor Radiant Heat Downloads

http://www.infloor.com/downloads.html

Infloor's download page includes some useful information for doing solar radiant floors.

Including, A fairly detailed 68 page radiant floor design manual.
 
Green From the Ground Up,
Jim McKnight, Mark Klein & Laura Lee,
Home Power magazine issue 122

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Description of a home that combines an efficient envelope, solar passive heating, solar hot water, masonry heater, and solar electricity to produce a very efficient and green home.
The radiant floor heating system can accept heat from solar, the masonry heater, or a gas boiler via a shared heat storage tank.
Insulation Under Radiant Slabs

www.blueridgecompany.com/ ... (pdf)

 

 

Good article on under slab insulation for radiant heated floors.

Compares three types of insulation to no insulation.
Rigid foam insulations do well, but the bubble pack style of insulation is worthless.

Water Collector Plans

plan link

A not too detailed set of plans for a flat plate solar collector from Mother Earth news
Double Play -- An Experimental Solar Heating and Cooling System
Steve Baer

How to get articles from Home Power ...

and the Zomeworks site

http://www.zomeworks.com
Search the Zomeworks site for "Double Play"

Roof Integrated Solar Absorbers
Home Power magazine article, issue 102

This innovative system uses unglazed collectors that are integrated with the roof structure and a unique thermal storage system to provide solar thermal heating in the winter and radiation cooling in the summer. Amazing!

The pdf report provides detailed performance measurements from the FSEC & NREL.

This scheme is perhaps a bit on the bleeding edge, but it seems promising to me, and might be good for the adventurous.

Hot Water Floor Heating for Barns Design Guide

Canada Plan Service

Design Guide For Hot Water Floor Heating (pdf)

 

This guide is intended for the design of hot water floor heating systems for barns, but has design information that may be useful for workshops etc.

From the Canada Plan Service:
www.cps.gov.on.ca
 

Making or Buying Collector Fins
How to make collector fins and evaluate collector fin designs

How to make and evaluate collector fin designs...

This article covers the various ways people have worked out for making the heat absorbing fins for collectors, fin performance, and some construction tips.

How to make and evaluate collector fin designs...

The next 3 Entries from the Experimental Section.

The first 2 are collectors that I developed for my home solar water heating system.
The 3rd entry is for the MTD (Modified Trickle Down) collector being developed by John Canivan and Richard Heiliger.
While I would still consider them experimental, I think they are pretty solid as long as you stay within the limits that are detailed.
I think all three of these have very good potential for inexpensive, high performance, long lived solar heating collectors.

A $6/sqft solar collector using Copper tubing and Aluminum fins

Full Details ...

Gary

This collector is an offshoot of the collector just below.  It uses the same scheme to transfer heat from the aluminum fin to the heat transfer tubing, but copper is used instead of PEX for the tubing.  This adds a modest amount to the cost per sqft, but provides performance that is quite close to all copper commercial collectors.

This is a cut at a solar water heating collector that offers a combination of high performance with a low cost per sqft, and an easy build.
See what you think!

The fin to tube thermal connection is similar to the collector above, but copper is used for the tubing instead of PEX.  This provides performance within 4% of an all copper collector in an easy to build package.

Extensive build, testing, and performance information is provided...

 

A $4/sqft solar collector using PEX tubing and Aluminum Fins

Full Details...

Gary

There has been a lot of interest in a collector that uses PEX tubing rather than copper to convey the heat transfer fluid.  Here is a cut a collector that does this -- with careful attention to the PEX/fin joint, it can perform surprisingly well. 

This is a cut at a solar water heating collector that uses PEX tubing instead of copper to convey the heat transfer fluid.   The fins are aluminum, and a lot of effort was put into attaining a good thermal bond between the PEX and aluminum.  Testing indicates that the collector performs at 84% of and all copper commercial collector at about 1/7th the price.

Extensive build, testing, and performance information is provided...
 

Modified Trickle Down Collector (MTD)

Richard Heiliger's detailed descriptions of the two versions of MTD collectors he built ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Canivans website with more MTD information ...

These are two new versions of the Thomason Trickle Down Collector from Richard Heiliger.
They use less expensive materials, are easier to build, and are likely to be more efficient.

 


Version 1: This design uses all plastic internals with a metal frame.  The emphasis is on low cost and ease of construction with good durability.

Version 2 This design uses all metal construction with a felt coated metal absorber, and a metal frame.  The emphasis for this design is on high durability and long life. 

Both designs are well thought out, perform well, and are described with great "how-to" detail (more than 80 pages of construction detail all told).

Full descriptions ...

Active Space Heating -- Air Heating Systems
Solar Air Heating Systems

Steve Kornher with Andy Zaugg

Download this book

 

This is a fine book on designing and building solar air collectors and solar air heating systems of many types.  Very good on design, very good on construction.  Covers both active and passive air collectors.  Highly recommended.
Model-TEA Solar Heating System - Construction Manual, Peter L. Temple, Jennifer A. Adams

 

Full details ...

 

 

 

 

See the next entry for an example of a recently constructed collector based on this TEA design

This 1980 book describes a solar air heating system using a solar air heating collector.  The collector is integrated into the roof or wall, and can be quite large -- up to several hundred square feet. 
The design is very well thought out, and extensive testing was done on the design to assure high performance and long life.  The collectors are: simple in construction, use commonly available materials and tools, and look great. Integrating the collectors into the home structure saves materials and labor. 
The book covers system sizing, collector construction, heat storage  construction, and a ducting, fan and control system.  The construction drawings and instructions are very detailed and very well done.

Thanks to the Peter for allowing this material to be made available here!
MOFGA Solar Air Heating Collector,
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

www.mofga.org/Default.aspx?tabid=488

 

This solar air heating collector utilizes the full south wall of the building.  The collector air flow path is horizontal across the full wall width.  There are vertical manifolds on the left and right sides.  This makes for a simple collector design with straight flow paths that are long enough for a good temperature rise, and that spread the airflow very evenly over the full absorber surface.
I think this is a good candidate for full wall collectors, and could be used for home or shop heating as a retrofit or in new construction.

The design of this collector is based on the TEA design just above.

Al's hybrid solar air and water heating collector

Full Construction Details...

This is a nicely done and very interesting collector from Al.  It is primarily a fan forced air heating collector, but also includes a limited water heating capability to store some heat for night use.

A very nice looking collector.  Total cost for the 100 sqft collector was only $500.

Ron's Solar Air Heater

http://solarairheater.lampresource.com/

 

This is a solar air collector built to the ground rules of the book just above.

Ron even figured out a way to do this without cutting holes in the wall by making use of two existing basement windows.

The 60 sqft collector is durable metal and glass construction and was built at a very reasonable cost.

Solar Hot Air System Design,
Chuck Marken, Home Power Magazine issue 98, and 99
www.solarminnesota.org/heatbuilding/hpsolarhotair1.pdf
www.solarminnesota.org/heatbuilding/hpsolarhotair2.pdf

Made available by Solar Minnesota:
http://www.solarminnesota.org/

Note: I am unable to find www.SolarMinnesota.org anymore -- if you know where they have gone to, please let me know.
Or, try: How to get articles from Home Power ...

A good two part Home Power article on designing and installing solar heating air collectors.
Solar air collectors offer a simple way to get free solar heat -- less complex and easier to build and install than solar water collectors.
60 sqft Active Wall Collector

Alain in France

This is a nice design for a wall mounted, 60 sqft, fan forced solar air collector.
Two Solar Air Heating Collectors with Absorbers from Aluminum Gutter Downspouts

Details here...

 

Two solar air heating collectors that use aluminum gutter downspouts as the absorber.  
One is a very low profile collector that minimizes visual impact, and the other a large collector that can be disassembled and removed for the summer. 
The aluminum downspout absorber provides an easy way to get both good flow distribution and lots of heat transfer area.
Wayne's Solar Air Collector

http://www.atlanticenergy.ca

 

A new idea in solar air collectors. 
Their website currently shows enough pictures to get a good idea how to build it, and promises more information soon. 
A little more info here.
Glen and Ronny's Solar Heater Project

https://sites.google.com/site/glenssolarheater/

 

Homemade solar air collector using one continuous length of aluminum flex duct folded into a serpentine pattern.

A nice simple design.

Good pictures and details.

Beer Can Solar Air Heating Collector

 

Original Hungarian version:
http://napenergia.freeweb.hu/gyak/szp/sztgyi.htm

English Translation:
http://www.freeweb.hu/napenergia/gyak/szp/sztgyi_en.htm

More...
http://www.sorkollektor.hu/eng/?p=8

And another from Brian ...

This is a nicely done and well documented version of the alum beer can collector design -- similar to the CanSolar commercial collectors.

 

More about the builder and collector ...
 

A pretty good video on the CanSolar collector with some construction detail ...

Pop Can Collector from Sweden

www.brunzell.com/projekt/solfangare/steg1.htm

 

 

A large, and very nicely built aluminum can collector from Sweden.   The builder provides a very detailed description of the construction with excellent pictures.  Lots of attention to detail and some new features.

The article is in Swedish, but the Google translation toolbar does a pretty good job, and the pictures are very good.

Brian's Pop Can Solar Heater

http://sites.google.com/site/brianshomebrewsolar/

 

A nice set of picture plans for a 20 sqft pop can solar heater.

A couple notes: Don't use the polystyrene insulation shown it will melt if the collector stagnates.  Use polyisocyanurate (e.g Altals R-Board) -- most lumber yards carry some brand of polyiso.  A thermal snap switch makes an easier controller...

Building an inexpensive solar heating panel

www.mobilehomerepair.com/article17solar.htm

 

 

 

Article from Mobile Home Repairs on building a wall mounted solar air collector with PV driven fan circulation.  Very complete How-To instructions.
Building and Installing a Solar Air Heater at Abundance Foundation,
Stephen Hren

http://www.thecarbonfreehome.com/

 

This is a very nicely done and relatively easy to build solar air heating collector.  The collector fan is powered by a PV panel, which also acts as the controller.

Looks like they had a lot of fun building it!

The pdf file provides very clear instructions with lots of photos of the build and installation.

Greg's Solar Air Collector

Full Details ...

 

This is an easy and inexpensive to build solar air collector that can be built right onto a south wall.

It uses a small fan to circulate air through the collector.   Cost was about $2 per sqft.
Ganged Forced Air Solar Collectors
 

Pictures and Description ...

 

Nicely done set of home built solar air collectors with a well thought out way to join collectors.
Tim's Solar Air Heating Collector

Full Details ...

A nice, simple solar air heating collector.

 

Full Details ...

Solar Hot Air System Design
Chuck Marken

How to get articles from Home Power ...
 

Home Power magazine article, issue 98

Overview of solar air collector features, applications and pro/con.  Limited system design and sizing info.

Mother’s Mobile Home Mini-Manual

www.motherearthnews.com

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 95 Sept/Oct 1985

Fairly detailed plans for a solar space heater intended for mobile homes (but probably adaptable to many situations).
Good construction diagrams.

This Old Trailer

Terry Ziegler

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 64

Very good article on adding solar space heating, water heating, a wind generator, and energy conservation features to a trailer. The solar air collector system is somewhat unique and well thought out.

28 Years of Tinkering

Steen Hansen Hviid

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Homepower Magazine article, issue 56

A report on a 70’s style active solar air collector system for a house that uses rock bin storage.  Some information on the design and construction of the system, and 30 years of experience living with the system, which is still doing well.  Also, some information on a PV and wind systems that were added later.

Experiments With Solar Air Collectors
Ralf Seip

How to get articles from Home Power ...

 

Home Power Magazine article, issue 72

Good detailed article on building a simple solar air collector.
Lots of data on construction and performance.

The Sol-Air Wall Mounted Air Heating Collector

Bill Kreamer,  Sol-Air Company

Download Plan pdf

 


Greg's detailed detailed accounting of building this Sol-Air collector with lots of pictures...

An easy to build, wall mounted solar air collector with forced air circulation.
The collector uses a flow through felt absorber to achieve high efficiency.
Greg provides a detailed description with lots of pictures on the construction of one of these Sol-Air collectors.

The combination of Bill's Kreamer's plans and Greg's pictures will make this collector construction a lot easier.
All the details...
Large Active Air Collector

Fitch Consulting

www.s101470521.onlinehome.us/12001.html

 

Quite a bit of detail on a solar space heating system that uses a large active solar air collector, as well as evacuated tube collectors.  The system has saved $8500 since  since 1994, and provides about 60% of the house energy bill.
Solar Heating -- Three in One
David Sweetman
 

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article issue 101

Description of a solar thermal heating system in Nevada that provides some space heating, hot water heating, and spa.  Limited hands-on information.

"Black Roof" Solar Attic Heater
From "Solar Air Heating Systems", Steve Kornher and Andy Zaugg

The Black Roof Collector

 

 

This is a very inexpensive system that uses your dark colored roof as a solar collector.  The cost is very low, and it can be installed with a weekends work.  It might supply about 15% of your heating needs.  It is not for all climates. 
This extracted from the book "Solar Air Heating Systems".
Very large solar grain drying collector,
North Dakota State Univ -- Extension Service

Download the plan ... (pdf)

 

North Dakota State University -- Extension Service -- Plans download page ...

 

 

This is a very large (2000 sf!) and very cheap solar collector that is intended for grain drying.

It is not going to be of direct use to many people, but the design is very interesting and has features that might be useful in a large and cheap space heating collector.  The basic materials for this collector come in under $1 per sqft.  Its biggest problem for space heating would be that it is horizontal, but some elements of the unique design might be useful in a collector tilted for winter heat gain.

The Appalachian Solar Lumber Kiln,
Dennis Scanlin, Appalachian State University

Home Power Magazine, issue 63, Feb 1998

www.homepower.com/view/...

If the above link does not work, then here is How to get articles from Home Power ...

Note: I've included this wood drying kiln in this section because the collector design is very interesting and could be incorporated in a roof for space heating.
A well thought out design for a solar lumber drying kiln.  The article includes good design, construction, and performance detail.

The design uses a solar air heating collector with a flow through absorber.  The collector comprises the full south face of the kiln.  Air is circulated though the absorber with 3 12 VDC fans driven by a single PV panel.
(thanks to Loran for suggesting this article)
Avoiding Odor Problems with Solar Air Heating Collectors...

 

 

Solar air heating collectors circulate room air through the collectors, so if materials used in the collector give off an odor when heated, the circulating air will carry the odor into the room.  Here is how to avoid odor problems ...
Geothermal Heating
Geothermal Hot Tubing

Michael Hackleman

Home Power Magazine Article, Issue 109

Article on using a geothermal hot spring as a heating source for hot tub and space heating.  The system uses a custom built heat exchanger made from copper pipe coils to transfer heat from the hot spring.

Geo-Heat Center

Technical (and not so technical) publications on Geothermal heating and heat pumps.

http://geoheat.oit.edu/techpap.htm

The Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology provides a lot of information on Geothermal heating and on Geothermal Heat Pumps.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
EERE info on Geothermal Heat Pumps

www.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/heatpumps.html

Heat pumps come in a dazzling array of variations -- here is a place to start:

EERE on Geothermal Heat Pumps

The EERE provides some good basic information on both geothermal and air source heat pumps. 

When you look at heat pump "efficiencies" of 300% and more, please bear in mind that this does not include the inefficiency of the 30% efficient coal fired power plant where the electricity to run the heat pump was probably generated.  From the earth's point of view, heat pumps may not be the best pollution solution. 
Energy conservation coupled with some solar heating may be more cost effective, lower maintenance, and less polluting than a geothermal heat pump.

Heat From The Earth -- A Heat Pump Primer
John Lynch
 
Home Power magazine article, issue 98

A good overview of ground source heat pumps with some limited sizing and design information.

Earth Energy System -- A Buyers Guide

Natural Resources Canada

http://www.canren.gc.ca

 

A good 44 page guide on ground source heat pumps from Natural Resources Canada. 
Green Building Talk

www.greenbuildingtalk.com/Forums/ ...
 
Provides some useful links on GSHP's that seems to be fairly even handed.  Much of the material out there on GSHPs tends to be on the optimistic (sometimes wildly optimistic) side.
Measured Performance of Five Residential Geothermal Systems,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

www.toolbase.org

 

 

This report provides actual measured performance data for 5 geothermal heat pumps installed in residences in Ohio.
Covers heating, cooling and water heating performance, including measured COP's.  The systems were carefully instrumented -- a lot of useful and interesting data is provided.
True DIY Heat Pump Projects

The Homemade Heat Pump Manifesto...

 

Multi part EcoRenovator blog on DIY GSHP...

 

These are two long (as in 22 pages) posts on completely DIY ground source heat pump projects.  The heat pump units are made from salvaged AC units.  The projects even include homemade rigs to drill the boreholes for the geo exchange loops.  Very good detail.

The EcoRenovator site and forum have some fascinating, unusual, and hard core DIY energy projects.

Heat Distribution
This section covers hardware and techniques for distributing the heat from a solar heating system to a house or other building.
Radiant Floor Heat Distribution

 

Radiant Floor Company...

Radiantec Company...

Radiant (hydronic) floors are ideal for distributing solar heat because the operate a low temperatures, which solar systems produce more efficiently.
 
Hydronic Baseboard Heaters

 

Conventional hot water baseboard heaters can be used to distribute heat from solar systems.  Typically solar systems produce lower temperatures than boilers, so more baseboard heater length is needed for a given heat output.  The link to the left gives heat output for SlantFin brand baseboard heaters at low temperatures.
Quite often, all that is needed is enough baseboard to distribute the collected solar heat for one sunny day, which can be quite reasonable.
PEX Coil Radiator This is a radiator that Richard Heiliger made from PEX tubing.  Hot water is pumped through it, and it radiates heat to the room.

It can be covered with a cloth screen for aesthetics.  PEX tubing can also be embedded in a wall behind sheetrock.

 

A large wall radiator project

http://amet.pierre.free.fr/yvesgern/MursChauffants/...

 

This is a detailed description of a large wall radiator.  In this case, the builder filled in the area that the wall tubes occupy with plaster --presumably to improve heat transfer and increase thermal mass.
This is in French.  If you are French impaired (like me), the pictures are very good, and the Google translating tool does a pretty good job.

(Thanks to Walter for sending the links to these wall radiators)

Solar Heating By Wall Heater

http://amet.pierre.free.fr/beaujard/beaujard.html

 

This is another wall radiator with a good set of pictures -- the one just above is based on this one.

This one is also in French.  If you are French impaired Google translator and the good pictures are your friends.

 

Homemade Pipe Radiator These pictures show a radiator that is used to heat the visitors center in Dawson City, Yukon Territory -- according to the staff it does an outstanding job.

 

Water to Air Heat Exchangers

http://www.magicaire.com/

http://www.heatexchangersonline.com/airtowater.htm

 

A number of suppliers make water to air heat exchangers that can be inserted in an existing hot air heating system to add solar heat.

Two example suppliers listed to left.

From the MagicAire specs, it looks like a 17 by 22 inch, 2 row unit, at 900 cfm airflow and 4 gpm water flow with a water temp of 120F would provide about 24,000 BTU per hour. 

Storage Tank Radiator The thermal storage tank that stores heat for a solar heating system could be located in the living space, and act as a radiator to heat the living space.  Some form of movable insulation could be used to regulate heat output.  This sounds a bit primitive, but I suspect it would actually work quite well -- especially in cases where solar heat is supplemental to other heating (as it usually is).
Water to Water Heat Exchanger from PEX Coil

 

 

This is a good job of forming a 300 ft coil of 1 inch diameter PEX into a coil style heat exchanger with very uniform spacing around each coil of the PEX.

 

 

Heat Distribution from Solar Air Heating Collectors Often the heat air from a solar air heating collector can just be "dumped" directly into the living space.  If the air does not get distributed well enough, a slow moving ceiling can can be used to distribute the air.

This is one of the nice things about using air heating collectors -- the distribution can usually be quite simple.

A blower and ducts can also be used to distribute the hot air from solar air heating collectors.

   
Reflectors
Reflector/Shades,
Steve Baer, Zomeworks Corporation

 

http://zomeworks.com ... (pdf)

 

A good paper by Steve Baer reviewing the use of seasonally moveable reflectors to increase solar heat gain in the winter, and reduce unwanted heat gain in the summer.
A nice mix of solar physics and practical how-to that Steve has gained in the building of many of these types of reflector systems over the years.
Keeping Snow Off Collectors
Snow accumulation on collectors In some areas, snow accumulating on collectors can be a problem.  Evacuated tube collectors tend to be worse in this regard because the snow is slow to melt off,  but, it can be a problem on any collector. 
Usual solutions include:

- Steeper tilt to shed show
- Locating panels where they can be cleaned with a long handle brush or "roof rake"
- Locating collectors on the ground where they are easily cleaned.

It should be noted that in most areas, snow accumulation is not really a problem.

Avalanche Roof Rake

www.avalanche-snow.com/index.asp

 

 

Jeff reported have good luck with removing snow from roof mounted collectors with this version of a roof rake.

This version has wheels, a snow cutting blade, and trails a slippery "tail" that the snow can slide down on.
This may too rough a tool for evacuated tube collectors?

Self Cleaning Solar Collectors

http://rimstar.org/...

 

This is an innovative solution to snow accumulation in cases where dead airflow areas cause snow accumulation. 

The vane added to the top of the panel directs wind flow into the dead spots.

 

solar energy