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How Solar Thermal Systems Can Help Save Energy
July 13, 2009 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
Today’s tip is about the quote unquote original type of solar panels – thermal systems. Many facility executives are familiar with the photovoltaic panels that are garnering many headlines for their ability to generate clean, renewable energy, but active solar thermal systems also use the sun’s energy to make facilities more energy efficient. And they’ve been around for much, much longer.
Thermal solar collectors, which are usually placed on the roof and oriented south, convert the sun’s energy into heat, which is transferred by circulating water, antifreeze or air to another location for storage and use. The most common use for this heat is to heat water, saving other resources that would have otherwise had to have been used for heating. Another possibility is to use solar-heated water to preheat outdoor air drawn into a building – saving HVAC energy.
The exact energy savings garnered from an active solar thermal system depend on several factors, including how the systems is used and the amount of sunlight the panels have access to. For this reason, it’s hard to give any definitive return on investment numbers.