Harness the Sun’s Natural Heating Ability with a Solar Chimney
A solar chimney is a technology that can be used to enhance the ventilation of a residential or commercial structure. A solar chimney uses the same principle at play in a fireplace. Heat naturally rises; like air from a fire will rise through a chimney, creating draft, and taking the smoke with it. This suction is the reason why there is no smoke in a dwelling when a fire is burning in the fireplace.
In the case of a solar chimney, the sun’s natural heat is being used to cause the air in the chimney to rise, which creates that same type of draft and moves the hot air out of the chimney. In the case of a solar chimney, this heating causes the cooler air from below to be pulled into the chimney for heating as the hot air is released from the top of the chimney. The act of pulling in cooler air creates air movement and ventilation in the structure.
One of the most important things to consider when preparing for a solar chimney is placement. The solar chimney must be placed on the roof of a structure in an area that is naturally hit by the sun’s rays. The best scenario is to place the chimney in an area that gets hit when the sun is strongest in the afternoon. It is also important to consider the thermal characteristics of the solar chimney and design the solar chimney with materials that absorb the most heat, which generally includes a black frame, tinted glass, and insulated glazing. Size of the solar chimney is another important consideration, as the larger the chimney is, the more effective it is.
It is also important to determine how to funnel the cool air to the base of the solar chimney so the suction effect can be achieved and ventilation can occur.
Typically, one of two different methods is utilized. The first option uses windows on the lowest level of the building to capture cooler air and funnel it through the dwelling to the base of the chimney. The second method utilizes a pipe buried underground; the air in the pipe cools underground and is eventually drawn through the building to the chimney’s base where, through suction, the air passes into the solar chimney where it is heated and released.
Solar Innovations, Inc. can offer solar chimneys with operable or fixed vent options for the function. Both fixed and operable vents have a place in solar chimney applications. If you’re not sure what is best for you, consult your Solar Innovations, Inc. sales representative.