One of the most noticeable changes we have seen in recent conversations is the focus on renewable energy or sustainable consumption. Given the state of climate change and crisis, this focus is both needed and understandable. However, many of us are still in the process of learning more about it.
During our initial searches, we were surprised to learn that solar energy, a popular form of renewable energy, is divided further into “active solar energy” and “passive solar energy.” Since it took us effort to find enough material on the topic, we decided to prepare a short guide about it for those trying to learn more.
Before shifting to the main topic, let’s first understand the basics of solar energy and its dynamics.
Solar energy is energy harvested from the sun’s rays reaching the surface of the Earth. We use systems to leverage this energy to power homes and appliances traditionally powered by gas or electricity. It’s clean energy that does not harm the environment.
Solar energy is further divided into two main categories.
- Active Solar Energy
- Passive Solar Energy.
For this article, we wanted to focus on and talk about “active solar energy.”
What is Active Solar Energy?
Active solar energy refers to solar energy captured by mechanical systems that collect the sun’s energy efficiently and converts it into a form that can be used to power our systems that require energy to run.
How it Works and Key Properties
Active Solar Systems are most commonly used to powerhouse heating systems and have a fairly simple operation mechanism.
- Step #1:The systems use the heat from sun rays to heat a liquid/fluid or air contained in solar collectors. The solar collectors are containers designed to maximize solar energy absorption.
- Step #2:The hot fluid is then transferred to a heat exchanger, and it can transfer this heat to the setup you need to power up.
The uses range from heating water to heating air, depending on your needs and requirements. Following are some of the most common features:
- The system uses either liquid or air for collecting heat depending on which system the solar system will be powering up.
- Liquid conductors, also called hydraulic collectors, are more popular compared to air collectors.
- The transfer of energy is controlled using switches to avoid wastage.
Active solar energy has both positive and negative aspects, and you need to consider both to get a good idea about the correct applications of it.
- The panels have a technologically advanced design that enhances the collection of solar energy. This makes it efficient, and you will get more value out of it.
- You can choose from a variety of sizes for solar panels, depending on your power needs.
- The energy consumption can be controlled; so, you don’t have to worry about wastage.
- The advanced equipment for an active solar system is expensive so you will incur higher installation costs.
- You will also need to get it regularly checked and repaired, adding maintenance costs to the list of your expenses.
- The fluids used to collect and store heat can be hazardous and potentially harm the environment through toxins.
Types of Active Solar Energy
Now that you have a basic understanding of active solar energy, we can look at its types. There are two main types of active solar energy.
1. Photovoltaic Solar Energy
Photovoltaic solar systems use the active solar system mechanism to generate electricity. These systems can be set for personal home use or major industrial or city development purposes.
Photovoltaic panels use heat conduction to generate electricity to power the relevant structure. They can also be used in combination with other renewable energy sources like wind power.
2. Thermal Solar Energy
The thermal solar energy system utilizes the core active solar system by using the solar energy from the sun to collect and store heat, eventually transferring the fluid and air to achieve results. Solar panels for thermal solar energy can also be placed slanted to maximize heat absorption.
What are the Different Applications for it?
Active solar energy systems can be applied to various sustainable consumption mechanisms, two of which are mentioned below.
Liquid-Based Heating Using Active Solar Energy
The liquid-based heating system is typically used to provide a sustainable consumption model for central heating systems. There are two types of collectors used for this system
- Flat plate collectors – common
- Evacuated Tube and Concentrating Collectors – rare
Once the fluid collects and stores heat, it moves to the heat exchanger that transfers the heat to a body of water stored in a tank, valve, pump, etc. The heated water needs to be consumed immediately because the longer it stays unused, the greater the heat loss.
Alternatively, some active solar systems use air as the heat collector and conductor. After absorbing the right amount of heat, a fan installed within the system pulls the hot air from the space and pushes it into the room that requires heating.
Such collectors are usually wall mounted because the purpose is to efficiently transfer heat to the entire room without disruption or imbalance.
Benefits of Switching to Renewable Energy
Opting for sustainable consumption by switching to renewable energy is environmentally friendly and beneficial to you regarding energy costs. Using solar energy will help you cut down on your utility bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and establish a sustainable living model for you.
Our Final Thoughts
Overall, active solar energy is one of the forms of renewable energy that is efficient and multipurpose. It has diverse applications and can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. Its systems are also technologically advanced and offer controls, making it easier to regulate the amount of energy you generate.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you want to learn more about solar energy or are looking for recommendations for solar energy products, do check out our other articles.