Is this a picture of a solar heating system?

I asked elsewhere on the internet and people speculated that the house in the picture below has a solar heating system. I’m obviously referencing the black windows/siding on the upper portion of this house.

What is that stuff?

I have a couple questions.

  1. Can anyone here confirm that this is a solar heating system? Or tell me what it is if it isn’t?

  2. What does it do? I mean…save up solar heat and transfer that to the house?

  3. How much would a setup like this cost? How could it possibly save money?

Could be a solar heat collector, i can not see much of it, i was looking for plumbing.
Maybe to heat a pool or something?

It is going to have limited sun exposure, but if it is at a higher latitude, that might work for heating a pool late in the season.

I am not really sure though, usually those go on the roof but then i live in florida where even in mid winter, rooftop gets you the best exposure.

It’s clearly home-brew.
It could be a type of “Trombe wall.”
It could also be a passive water pre-heater, but without more details, it’s impossible to know.

There are many types of solar retrofits that can save money. The “Passive Solar Energy book” is the bible for this information.

Say, that could make for a free toasty attic in a northern winter :smiley:

You joke, but there may be distribution fans up there.
Also, the bedrooms could be on the 2nd floor.

But, I agree that it’s an odd setup. Most likely a water-circulation system.

My parents had a system similar looking to that installed in the late 70s or very early 80s. I believe there was a tax credit or something involved because they certainly didn’t have the money to experiment with.

Anyway, it was a passive air heating system. Interior air was sucked into vents in the bottom, warned, rose and came back into the house through vents at the top. I think there might have been a fan that could be turned on to pull warm air down to an interior vent as well. I don’t know how effective it really was.

Looks like a solar pool water heater. The reason each panel is square is that water hoses are spiraled inside each square. No reason to make things neccessarily square if just for air flow.

Huh, very difficult to determine.

I bike by here almost daily and I will attempt to catch the people outside one day and ask. I doubt they’d mind(not that I know them, but still).

  1. Without being much closer, I can’t be sure. It doesn’t look like the Commercial solar thermic Systems People can buy here (Sonnenkollektor – Wikipedia).

  2. The normal solar thermic cells People buy here and put on the Roof (not on the flat side) are cheaper than PV (photovoltaic) cells and simply produce heat via warm water. That is, the Panel is bulky, because there’s a pipe in there, and black to get most heat, whereas PV Panels are very Slim and blueish, to get more electricity.
    The pipes are filled with a liquid (not pure water) which usually leads down to a 90 or 120 Liter water tank in the Basement (well insulated) and Transfers the heat via heat exchanger.

The warm water from the tank is then used as hot water in the house (showering, washing machine, dish washer) and in the winter, for the central heating (which is run with warm water here, not warm air). More here Solar thermal energy - Wikipedia as a start.

  1. It depends: If it’s not Commercial, but self-built, the costs are low. How high are the heating costs in winter? how much does it cost to heat hot water? Is the house connected to an opportunity for heating, or do they have to fill an oil tank?

In outdoor Shops, you can find a “solar shower” - a black bag that you fill with water and lay in the sun for a few hours, the water gets luke-warm up to hot, depending on where you are. (Not a recommendation for the shop: Camp Kitchen & Storage | Camp Kitchen Supplies & Equipment)

From the horse’s mouth is always the best way.

Seems really unlikely to be a solar thermal collector unless it was a DIY project… who would mass produce so many different versions of them, in squares, rectangles, various polygons with different triangles cut away, etc.? How would the multiple rows and columns balance out the differences in gravity pumping and water heating and density? How would you detach any one cell for maintenance or replacement?

Even as a trombe wall… why would you put it on the exterior, past your insulation, when most of the heat would just radiate back out anyway?

Another guess: Is that some sort of solar/light blocking film on a giant regular window? Maybe they wanted a giant sun room with some light but not all the heat? It looks like many of the “cells” have some bends/warps, suggesting some sort of flexible material and not just plain glass. But maybe the glass behind a film would require that many cross-struts to support them? That would also explain how they managed to get each cell to just the right shape and size to conform to their roof slope the whole way. Dunno…

There’s certainly one “pane” that’s rolled up to expose a window.

looking at other examples I’d be inclined to say trombe wall as well; probably homebuilt.