We've all heard of solar heating
, but did you know there was such a thing as solar cooling, too? What is solar cooling? How does it work? Is it something you should look into for your home?
What is Solar Cooling?
Solar cooling combines one or more of the three main types of solar energy collection and distribution systems to provide air conditioning to a home:
- Passive solar cooling is the most commonly used. This includes insulation, double-glazed windows, curtains or blinds and anything else that is designed to lower the extent of heat transfer into the home.
- The use of desiccants (moisture absorbing substances) such as silica draws moisture from the air. This moisture in turn cools the air that is passed over it. Solar energy is utiised to dry out the desiccant, allowing its prolonged use.
- A photo-voltaic (PV) solar energy system is one which converts solar power into electricity. The electricity generated by the PV system is in turn used to power conventional or newer solar assisted air conditioning systems.
How Does Solar Cooling Work?
The physics involved in solar cooling is extremely complex, but boils down to a three stage process:
- The solar energy must be collected. This is the primary purpose of solar panels.
- The energy is used in the appropriate way to cool the air.
- A delivery system sends the cooled air or water to the desired location.
In solar cooling systems, air or water is cooled by one of three means:
- As mentioned above, desiccants gather moisture and this moisture cools the air that is passed over it.
- Solar energy is converted into electricity to power a conventional air conditioning system.
- Adsorption or absorption collection systems gather (adsorb or absorb) heat from the air before passing the cooled air on.
Why Should I Consider Solar Cooling?
Solar energy of all types are a way to cut down on our greenhouse emmissions and over time can be money savers as well. Air conditioners are among the most energy consuming appliances in the home, as anyone who has seen their energy bills soar over the summer months can attest. Solar cooling has been shown to reduce energy consumption by as much as 25%. Combined with passive solar cooling, the reduction can be even greater. Contact a solar power expert in your area and find out more about solar cooling. It may be just what you need.