Active VS Passive Solar Energy

In this guide, we explore the concept of Active VS Passive energy in its entirety. You will also learn the main differences, the pros and cons of these two systems, and their overall performance. 

Passive Solar Energy Explained

Passive solar energy is simply described as the natural energy that is generated from the sun. This energy is naturally absorbed from sunlight in the form of heat.

For instance, passive energy is employed by a greenhouse to ensure that the environment is kept at a high temperature during the cold seasons such as winter. 

Passive solar energy factors;

  • Depends largely on the constriction, design, and building of your home.
  • Utilizes energy generated from the sun for cooling and heating processes
  • Operates without dependence on any external device
  • Employs passive collectors in converting rays to sunlight following the law of thermodynamics, which says that heat is transferred from warmer to cooler surfaces. 
  • Has it overall success depending on its orientation a well as the thermal mass of its walls. 
  • Is an interesting idea to venture into, especially if you are in search of ways to boost the productivity of your small business or setup. 

Examples of Passive Solar Energy

The best examples of passive solar energy are found in architecture. 

Ceilings with external ventilation: Usually, roofs of buildings have been discovered to accommodate a huge amount of radiation during the summer periods. In cross ventilation, the heats undergo a process known as DISSIPATION, making it a typical example of a passive solar cooling system. 

Vegetation: Trees and vegetation harbor shadows. These shadows primarily help to reduce the amount of solar radiation that penetrates a house or building. While these shadows and their functions can be beneficial in summer, they could be harmful during winter. 

Dark Surfaces: Another example of passive solar energy are dark surface, and this is because they tend to commonly absorb heat from the sun. 

Thick and insulated walls: This is another example of passive solar energy because they prevent the output of heat in winter and do the opposite during the summer periods, thus, making the house cool.

How Does a Passive Solar System Work?

A passive solar system works by allowing the windows of a particular structure to face the directions that receive the permeation of the greatest amount of sunlight during the day.

After this;

  • Sunlight is allowed to shine through the entire part of the house through the windows.
  • The inner structure walls and floors absorb and store the solar energy as it penetrates the structure. 
  • The heat circulates through the entire structure through objects that are touching each other as well as from fans and blowers. 

Pros of Passive Solar Energy

The pros of passive solar energy include;

  • They are highly affordable
  • Helps you cut costs in terms of maintenance
  • They do not require direct sunlight
  • They are economically friendly.

Cons of Passive Solar Energy

The cons of passive solar energy include;

  • Every passive solar energy system is unique to every structure. Therefore, each system must be individually created. 
  • Passive solar energy can spike engineering costs.
  • You may encounter difficulty in getting local providers
  • Might not provide the sufficient energy required for your home
  • Your location might also be a barrier
  • While the equipment cost is cheaper, designing your house to fit into your desired passive solar energy system may prove expensive. 

Active Solar Energy Explained

Active Solar Energy is simply described as a system in which solar energy is captured and stored for future purposes. In the simplest term, it refers to the energy generated from sunlight, which is then increased by electricity or other mechanical equipment.

Generally, this is referred to as sustainable use of sunlight energy. 

What happens in Active Solar Energy?

In active solar energy, the;

  • Main construction usually has FLAT-PLATE PV PANELS as components. The reason is that these kinds of materials employ a more sophisticated design, usually formed by the connection of all panels systemically. 
  • Common practice features liquids or air as conductors in each of the solar collectors, thus creating an avenue to store and conduct energy. 
  • Conductors that utilize liquid are called HYDRONIC COLLECTORS, while the ones that use air are known as AIR COLLECTORS
  • HYDRONIC COLLECTORS are commonly used compared to AIR COLLECTORS.

Examples of Active Solar Energy

Active solar space heating; This utilizes mechanical equipment such as pumps, fans, and blowers. These mechanical equipment are used to gather, store, and distribute heat energy throughout the house. 

Active solar water heating: These systems are employed in hearing the water in the home. It usually pumps to ensure the water or heat-transfer fluid is evenly distributed across the home. They can be classified into two;

  • Direct and 
  • Indirect

Active solar pool heating: As the name implies, these are used to heat the water of your pool. In this case, the pool water is channeled through the solar collectors and piped back into the pool once heated. 

Pros of Active Solar Energy

The pros of active solar energy include;

  • It utilizes the power of your external devices. So, you do not need to stress too much about generating power from other sources different from sunlight.
  • No release of carbondioxide into the atmosphere
  • While heating the PV panels, it also keeps them clean, specifically in poor weather conditions.
  • The panels do not generate wind noise at all

Cons of Active Solar Energy

The cons of active solar energy are;

  • Requires expensive external equipment
  • Costly maintenance of the equipment
  • The fluids that store the heat can also release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. 

Why does Solar Energy Help Save the Planet?

Solar energy helps save the planet because it;

  • Reduces air pollution through the emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Reduces water usage           
  • Reduces dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

Apart from that, it also;

  • Helps fight climatic change
  • Reduces respiratory and cardiovascular issues
  • Improves the health of the entire human race in the long run

Ying Xu

Graduated from the University of Kansas with an Aerospace Engineering degree & served 4 years as an US Air Force officer. Experienced with basic survival skills, weapon system security,  technical disaster recovery, and system troubleshooting

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