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Collectors work by extracting the energy of the sun directly into themselves
for a more usable or storable form of energy. Solar Collectors are a
must for anyone considering a move to solar energy. Without them, you
will be hard pressed to convert to solar power because of the lack of
Solar Collectors use the energy in sunlight is in the form of electromagnetic
radiation from the infrared (long) to the ultraviolet (short) wavelengths.
Solar collectors can be mounted on a roof but need to face the sun,
so a north-facing roof in the southern hemisphere, and a south-facing
roof in the northern hemisphere is ideal. Collectors are usually also
angled to suit the latitude of the location. Where sunshine is readily
available, a 4 to 16 square foot array will provide all the hot water
heating required for a typical family house. Such systems are a key
feature of sustainable housing, since water and space heating is usually
the largest single consumer of energy in households.
The solar energy striking the earth's surface at any one time depends
on weather conditions, as well as location and orientation of the surface,
but overall, it averages about 1000 watts per square meter under clear
skies with the surface directly perpendicular to the sun's rays. The
heat is normally stored in Solar Collector storage tanks full of water.
Heat storage is usually intended to cover a day or two's requirements,
but other concepts exist including seasonal storage (where summer solar
energy is used for winter heating by just raising the temperature by
a few degrees of several million liters of water.
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