Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Air Heating
What is a solar air heater?: Where a PV solar panel generates electricity, a Arctica solar air heater generates hot air for spacing heating applications.
Why would I use a solar air heater?: If you need heating during a portion of the year solar air heating can be a inexpensive and sustainable way to meet or supplement your heating needs. If you live in a sunny climate and need naturally warmed air for a specific process, like making beef jerky, hydroponics or aeroponics, solar air heating can be a natural choice. If you have a space that has a problem with moisture build up or needs pre-heated ventilation air, our heater can help.
How does it work?: Sunlight enters the heater and is absorbed by a special metal panel. An optimized thermal exchange system uses heat captured by the absorber to heat incoming air and then delivers the air to the use space. With the PV Fan Kit, the heater uses a PV panel to operate the circulation fan, and is controlled automatically with a thermostat and temperature switch.
Do I have to plug it in?: If you purchase the heater with the PV Fan Kit, then No. The heater provides its own power for air circulation via the PV panel. It is powered directly from the PV panel. If you purchase without the PV Fan kit, then you'll have to blow air into the heater with your own equipment, such as a variable speed inline blower.
Does it have a thermostat?: The heater ships with a heat-only thermostat, however it can work without a thermostat as well by just twisting the thermostat wire leads together on the intake wire harness.
How does it ship, and how much does it weigh?: The 1500, 2000 and 4000 heaters ship freight on a pallet, up to 10x heaters / pallet. The 750 heaters and DIY kits ship UPS ground or UPS international.
Is it hard to install?: It is designed to install like a PV electric panel by DIYers, solar installers, handymen or contractors. It does require routing of air ducting, so it is best to locate the heater as close to the point of use as possible. Please review the owners manuals which are linked on the heater product pages.
How do I find an installer?: Our products are easy to install for any qualified general contractor or handyman. This blog post provides guidance on how to find a qualified installer for your area.
Why not just use PV panels routed to a traditional space heater?: For producing heat, PV panels are terribly inefficient and take up a lot of space. At 80-90% end to end efficiency, an Arctica Solar air heater is the best choice for maximizing cost performance in space heating.
Why not just use a mini-split and PV system?: Mini-splits are great, and have the added benefit of cooling in the summer. In fact we have many customers that have spaces heated with solar air heating + mini-split in the winter, and cooled with the mini-split in the summer. A mini-split + PV system is a larger home project than a solar air heater install. Solar air heating is supplemental infinite COP heating for an adoptive space, no matter the other traditional heating sources (central gas, central heat pump, mini-split, wood stove, propane heater, electric space heater, ect).
Would a window work just as well?: Yes and no, depending on your scenario. Windows do allow for collection of solar radiation, but are designed to let in light and keep out weather. Windows often have coatings which lower the energy collected from the sun for the purpose of heating and comfort of people and items in the living area. The heater is designed to deliver heat, so the use cases can be different. Installation of the solar heater is easier with fewer potential leak points than a window. A window the same size as our 1500 Series heater has 17x more sealing perimeter than the two 4" ducts you will need for the heater. Window sealing is difficult and is known to be a common cause of building heat loss.
Can I link multiple heaters together?: Yes, you can do series and parallel connection of heater panels. This video explains one such combination which achieves 10,000 BTU / hr max heat generation. We also recommend linking 750 Series heaters in a variety of configurations, one of which is covered in this design guidance PDF.
How much space does each heater model heat?: Each heater product page lists the max BTUh rating and suggested room size. The 750 is recommended for 100 sqft and less, the 1500 for 200-250 sqft, the 2000 for 250 sqft and the 4000 for 500 sqft. Larger systems of up to 5x 2000 series heater panels do exist (up to 30,000 BTUh peak) and we recommend you contact us / email us for questions about larger system designs and projects. Heat provided by the heater is supplementary regardless of the size of the adoptive space.