Friday, January 4, 2013
Heating and cooling buildings with solar heat.
Air conditioning makes up bulk of the power usage especially in tropical countries where the sun is shining almost throughout the year and the humidity levels are high. It makes a perfect sense to use solar heat to cool homes, business and factories. Many air-conditioning systems are commercially available using simple roof top PV solar panels to generate electric power to run an electric window air-conditioners. This system uses commercially available solar panels and window air-conditioners and uses solar power to generate electricity to run the compressor and the blower in the air-con unit. This system requires large storage battery to store adequate electricity to run your air-conditioners for specified period of time. Otherwise it requires a large area of solar panels to meet the demand. The efficiency of such systems can be improved using DC operated compressors and fans. However, renewable energy such as solar is still expensive to run air-conditioners because of high initial investment cost, though it may be economical in the long run as the cost of solar panels and accessories slowly come down over a period of time. Moreover such systems are limited to small air condition capacities. For large air-conditioning requirements such as business and factories, we require a system that uses solar heat directly to air-condition the premises with higher efficiency and thermal storage capabilities. Designing such a system is not very difficult because most of the components necessary to install such a systems are readily available. One can install an air-conditioning system based on 100% solar thermal heat with molten salt thermal storage. Alternatively, a hybrid system can be installed based on solar heat without a thermal storage but using city gas supply. Many countries use gas for heating during winter seasons but do not use gas during summer. These countries can use a hybrid (solar-gas) system to air-condition their premises and avoid peak electric usage during summer seasons thereby avoiding electrical black-outs. The advantage with such system is they can also be used for heating the premises during winter season. With changing climate due to global warming many warm countries like India also experiences cold temperatures during winter season. For example New Delhi in India has experienced a sharp drop in temperature up to 15-20c during winter from earlier winters. Solar cooling systems to date have used waste heat gas absorption chiller heaters, which utilize the waste heat from co-