MAIL: Solar Hot Air

Beginner
Home-built solar air collector photo
Yes, you can build your own solar hot air collector

Not mentioned in Chuck Marken’s “Ask the Experts” on “Solar Space Heating” (HP161) is how simple and maintenance-free solar hot-air systems are. These are nonpressurized systems that use a nontoxic, noncorrosive, freeze-resistant heat-transfer fluid (HTF) that is free—air. Also important, the HTF is returned to the collectors at room temperature. You’d need a pretty big heat exchanger to accomplish that with hot water collectors.

Readers should be advised not to judge a book by its cover nor a product by its website. Judge the product. That’s what the people at SRCC are there for. That a company doesn’t have a distribution network means you get to talk to the company and buy from them directly.

Like Chuck, I have a few years on me. I remember the 1980s and the mandate that anything purchased get used extensively. It’s pretty smart that we now base our financial decisions on return on investment. The hot air collectors on my shop have paid off very well, especially this year, with propane prices being out of sight. The hot water collectors that provide heating for my house have paid off very well also.

Formerly subtitled “The Hands-On Journal of Home-Made Power,” Home Power could have pointed out that hot air solar collectors are the nearly ideal introduction to renewable energy. They are so simple that they don’t even require storage.

Pete Gruendeman • via email

Thanks for your comments, Pete. I agree with you! I’ve had three large air collectors heating my house for the past 30 years, and seven heating my shop.

Chuck Marken • Home Power solar thermal editor

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