Thermal Energy

When solar energy is used for heating, efficiencies upwards of 75% are possible, compared with approximately 15% for the best PV cells when making electricity. Since heating devices also consume the largest amount of current, using solar heating for the home offers the maximum potential for payback. Concentrated solar heat allows much higher operational temperature and better efficiency.
Since CSP can easily boil water, designing a CSP heating system requires some extra attention to detail. It's really the same thing as building a small scale boiler. Boiler systems are based on the science of water systems is called hydronics. Many normal industrial scale boiler features need to be incorporated into our home CSP design, in a way that doesn't blow the budget. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when designing a system that can reach boiling temperatures:

  • Use a low pressure boiler feed regulator and a 30psi safety release
  • Use a strainer to prevent the pump impeller from becoming jammed by debris
  • Establish min and max operating parameters and try to run in the middle
  • Large easy to see pressure gauges are important
  • Have a way of controlling the heat source if possible
  • Copper or galvanized pipe is required for sections that may exceed 180 degrees
  • Make some provision if freezing is possible.