Our DIY solar air heater
It's so simple we built our own solar air heater out of found materials, pop cans and about $80 worth of materials from a local hardware store.
SolarWall - industrial scale solar air heating
More than 30 years ago John Hollick of Conserval Engineering created SolarWall, a commercialized and scaled up version of solar air heating. Holick put a modern, metal solar air heater on Ford's Oakville, Ontario factory in 1990. Since then Ford has installed solar air heating systems on seven more of their plants saving them more than $10 million in heating costs. And this technology has spread - Conserval has installed these systems in hundreds of commercial applications around the world. SolarWall is dark exterior steel cladding placed on a south-facing wall. "There'll be thousands of tiny micro-perforations along the surface of the wall, and those perforations allow the heat that normally collects on a darker surface to be uniformly captured and then drawn into an air cavity behind, and from there that air is pre-heated, anywhere up to 50 degrees Celsius on a sunny day," says Victoria Hollick, vice president of operations at Conserval Engineering. The pre-heated air then enters the building's conventional heating and ventilation system reducing the cost of heating. SolarWall makes a lot of sense for commercial and industrial buildings because of their large heating loads and the need for fresh air for employees. By pre-heating the air before it gets into the building owners can save an average of 20 to 30 per cent on their heating costs. Simple payback on these systems runs from five to 13 years. But it's not just about energy savings, improving indoor air quality is very important as well. By pre-heating your incoming air you can cycle in lots of fresh air without worrying so much about your heating costs. And while SolarWall got its start in the cold climates of Canada they are starting to branch out into other applications as well. "We have projects for crop drying in California where it's being used to dry herbs and spices and coffee. We have applications in Spain and France and all over the world," says Victoria Hollick
Solar air heating in CanadaWhether you build a do-it-yourself model or install a SolarWall on a warehouse, solar air heating is a simple, cost effective solution. Canadians use a ton of energy keeping themselves and their buildings warm and solar air heating is an affordable, effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the money spent on space heating with a super simple technology. So the next time solar comes up in a conversation don't just focus on the sexy solar panel, give a thought to the humble, but effective solar air heater as well.