Last year, an article from BuildItSolar.com for a $350 Solar Heater got a fair amount of attention. Collecting the heat in a southern exposure wall and using it to warm the air is a fairly simple and straightforward process.
The principle behind that project is the same idea behind SolarWall. Using a perforated steel wall cladding over the existing wall, air is drawn in through small openings across the surface and as the wall itself is heated by the sun. In addition, the system helps recapture some of the heat being lost through the outside wall of the building and helps to further warm the incoming air as well. The warmed air is driven by a fan into the building where it can be directly distributed or brought into the building's heating and ventilation system as pre-conditioned air. Since it has been warmed already, the fresh intake air does not need to be heated as much, if at all. With an economizer cycle in the ventilation system, this can result in significant energy savings.
In the summer, the same effect takes place: The SolarWall gets heated by the sun, but rather than bringing that air into the building, it is drawn up and vented outside the building. This serves to keep the direct sun off the wall of the building, eliminating direct heat gain, and moving the air so that heat does not build up right next to the outside wall, contributing to lowering cooling costs as well.
written by ali kriscenski, November 09, 2007
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