Energy costs are increasing, with heating being the leading factor in fuel bills. In many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, fossil fuels are still used for year-round heating.

If you want to make your home more sustainable, it’s worth exploring the advantages of solar panel technology.

Solar panels are becoming more affordable and easier to install, and customers can receive ongoing support from many suppliers. With a wide range of products available, it’s simple to find a solar-powered solution to heat any home.

This blog will demonstrate how to save hundreds in heating costs and fulfill all your heating needs through solar panels.

Choosing the Right Solar Heating Solution for Your Home

While thermal solar panels are an option for home heating, many homeowners in the United States choose a combination of solar panels and heat pumps. There is a good reason for this approach. Finding suppliers for both types of technology is straightforward, making maintenance accessible and affordable.

Moreover, since heat pumps move existing heat, they consume less energy than conventional gas furnaces. Switching from an electric furnace to a solar panel–heat pump combination saves the average American $815 per year. 

On the other hand, support for solar thermal panel technology is much more limited. Although thermal solar panels efficiently collect and store solar energy, they are more challenging to implement in an average home.

For reliable solar technology with long-term maintenance and upgrade options, solar panels and heat pumps are the logical choice. Furthermore, the broader range of products makes it easier to address the specific heating requirements of your home.

Main Types of Solar Heating Systems

According to energy expert John Keohane, solar heating systems can be broadly categorized into two groups: passive solar heating and active solar heating.

Passive solar heating takes a more holistic approach, relying on building design and insulation without mechanical elements or secondary energy supply. Active solar heating systems are more complex, requiring thermal heaters and photovoltaic panels as supporting technologies.

What is Passive Solar Heating?

Passive solar heating is becoming increasingly popular in modern construction.

In simple terms, it involves designing buildings that effectively capture sunlight to naturally heat the home. This can be challenging in colder climates or regions with limited sunlight, so additional measures such as insulation and south-facing windows are often employed.

Various factors can influence the success of passive solar heating. Careful attention should be given to landscaping, ensuring that foliage on the south side of the building does not obstruct sunlight during winter.

The main advantage of passive solar heating is that it requires no electricity, although windows and insulation may need to be upgraded for optimal results. While triple-glazed windows may be costly, the long-term savings are significant.

Implementing passive solar heating principles is not limited to new builds or major renovations. There are smaller steps that can be taken to reduce energy consumption and rely more on natural heating sources, such as installing high-quality blinds on south-facing windows.

Additionally, smaller structures like garages or workshops can be easily adapted to utilize passive solar heating techniques.

What is Active Solar Heating?

Active solar heating refers to the capturing and storing of solar energy for later use, which sets it apart from passive heating. It involves a more complex setup of mechanical components like water pumps and fans to power the system.

There are two main types of active solar heating systems for space heating: liquid-based systems and air-based systems. Liquid-based systems use water tanks, radiant slabs, and heat pumps to distribute heated air. Meanwhile, air-based systems rely on rock bins, blowers, and ducts.

Active solar heating is a versatile option with various applications. It’s used to heat larger properties and provide hot water for central heating systems and swimming pools.

Unlike passive solar heating, active solar heating can be used in any home, regardless of window orientation. It’s also more suitable for buildings in less sunny climates because it allows for the storage of solar energy.