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Solar Space Heating

If you are ready to start building your sustainable green lifestyle, then utilizing solar energy for space heating is a good place to start your search for DIY green solutions. Listings here represent green tech solutions and experts that we have worked with, utilized ourselves and found to meet our high expectations. For legal reasons, we must add the disclaimer that these are not endorsements and that you should perform your own due diligence before purchasing any product or service from any provider.

Sustainable Futures: Solar Heating System Project

Solar Hot Water Space Heating
This project was abandoned before full completion, but it featured a homebrew, DIY solar hot water space heating system made from off-the-shelf components, like aluminum siding, pex piping, polycarbonate twinwall, 55 gal oil drum, and a circulator pump. All the parts were installed including the temperature sensors and the system controller. The owner/builder never fine tuned the digital system controller nor completely filled the collectors with transfer fluid. My best guess is that the Pex collector piping had too low a thermal conductivity factor to transfer collected heat efficiently. Perhaps the new owner could finish the system and conduct performance testing?
The purpose of Jim's Solar Space Heating System is to use available solar energy to heat a large window box greenhouse and the adjacent kitchen/dining area during cool weather periods. Operational theory is that heat transferred via working fluid from flat plate collector into storage tank will leak into the surrounding insulated storage air space, where riser pipes will convect it into the greenhouse above and an electric fan will also blow some heat into the kitchen area. 

This is a first experimental system, done on a shoestring budget, so some DIY components, like the collector & storage tank, are not expected to meet high efficiency standards but should collect enough energy to be usable within the initial needs of the space heating application. Future improvements are likely once experience has been gained and finances allow for component upgrades & capacity expansion.
Window Box Greenhouse: Outside View
Inside View from Kitchen Table:
Side View w/ Heat Storage Bin Underneath:  Heat Storage Tank & Circulator Pump:
Homemade Collector using Aluminum Siding,
Pex Piping, and Thin Set:

Placed into Wooden Box Lined with Rigid, Foil Covered Insulation and Covered w/ a Sheet of Transparent TwinWall:
Collector Mounts on Ground on South Side:
Finished Collector Installed on Mounts:
Temperature Sensors Installed:
Programmable System Controller Installed:

The System Controller, the SR1188 from Ultisolar (http://www.ultisolar.com), is able to log temperature sensor data, heat flow, and pump runtime for computer analysis of system performance. Check back here in the future for the results of this DIY solar space heating experiment, and a detailed analysis of what was learned and what could be improved in the next version. Hopefully we will also create a physics mathematical model for this system that will allow various design considerations to be simulated and their performance predicted.