Technology

Solar Energy Systems Defined

Solar energy systems are broadly defined as systems that make use of sunlight to heat, cool, generate electricity or produce mechanical power.

There are a number of ways to gather and use the solar energy. For years, building owners have used solar energy to heat water by passing it through black metal or plastic tubes. There are also solar electric panels, which generate electric power on everything from calculators, to homes, and orbiting satellites.

Simple Solar Air-Heating

The most prevalent method of collecting solar energy occurs by the least recognized phenomenon, the solar-heating of air.

This simple phenomenon is what warms our atmosphere to the life sustaining temperatures we live in. It is so universal we find it easy to overlook, but it is this simple natural process that sustains life by providing livable temperatures across the world.

Solar heating occurs every day on every surface exposed to sunlight and air…every blade of grass …every car interior, roadway, roof, or wall.

Every surface exposed to sunlight absorbs a portion of the solar energy falling on the surface. It converts that absorbed sunlight into heat. The heat raises the surface temperature, which rises above the surrounding air temperature. The surface then transfers heat to the surrounding air to equalize the temperatures between the surface and the air. American Solar uses this phenomenon to heat air for a wide range of uses.

Once we collect the heated-air, we use it for a variety of beneficial purposes, including:

  • space (air) heating
  • water heating
  • ventilation air heating and preheating
  • combustion air preheating
  • desiccant drying
  • industrial equipment heating
  • heat pump air preheating
  • radiant floor heating
  • paint booth heating
  • agricultural heating
  • swimming pool heating
  • greenhouse heating
  • air conditioning

We use conventional metal roofing and siding as the solar collector surfaces to truly integrate solar into the façade of a building to match most architectural styles. Our systems can be visible statements of solar elements or invisibly blended into the walls and roofs while creating large, powerful solar heating systems.