Is it for your Home?
Other than passive solar cooling methods that are best suited to new "near zero energy homes", there are active solar system cooling methods that can be used to retrofit an existing home.
If feasible, Solar Cooling can save on energy bills
The Economical Motivation
Heating and cooling systems are energy hungry, therefore the investment in solar space heating and solar space cooling systems is paid back through reduced energy bills
Solar Power Generation
The trivial solution yet not the most economical one is to use the sun radiation energy to generate electricity by solar energy panels and to use the generated electricity for the existing residential coolers (air conditioners). Due to the double conversion involved and due to the relatively high cost of solar energy generation it is better to exploit more direct and cheaper methods. This method makes sense for an RV to cool it in the sunny days when cooling is mostly needed
More Efficient Solar Space Cooling
I'll describe below 2 efficient active solar system cooling approaches.
Absorption cooling preceded modern air-conditioners based on compression/expansion cycles. Weird as it sounds, absorption cooling systems use heat as the driving force rather than electricity. A home in a remote, sunny arid areas is optimally located to use a solar absorption cooling system
There are two types of absorption cooling systems:
- High temperature systems, flowing warm liquid (not necessarily water) heated to between 180 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. (Between 82 and 121 degree Celsius). Most residential solar thermal collectors can’t reach such high temperature range .
- In 2-stages systems, the first pre-heater stage use a conventional solar collector to pre-heat to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). The second stage uses a higher-temperature energy source, such as natural gas, burning oil or wood .
At present, absorption cooling systems cooling capacity is bigger than the cooling needs of the average home. They fit better to really big homes and to offices. An effort is underway to scale down these cooling systems to fit into the size of the average home
The desiccant cooler is another method of solar cooling. Desiccant coolers reduce the moisture content in the air. Drying the air doesn’t really cool it, it only reduces the humidity. The subjective feeling is that the air is cooler. Desiccant coolers are sometimes used with other methods of solar coolers. Desiccant coolers fit better to warm humid regions and are usually larger scale systems, too big for the typical home
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