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Heat/Cool

Heat/Cool

Cooking, Heating and Cooling

Conventional electric cooking, space heating and water heating equipment use a prohibitive amount of electricity. Electric ranges use 1500 watts or more per burner, so bottled propane or natural gas is a popular alternative to electricity for cooking. A microwave oven has about the same power draw, but since food cooks more quickly, the amount of kilowatt hours used may not be large. Propane and wood are generally better alternatives for space heating. Good passive solar design and proper insulation can reduce the need for winter heating. Evaporative cooling is a more reasonable load than air conditioning and in locations with low humidity; the results are almost as good. One big plus for solar cooling: the largest amount of solar energy is available when the need for cooling is the greatest.

 

Refrigeration

Gas powered absorption refrigerators are a good choice in small systems if bottled gas is available. Modern absorption refrigerators consume 5-10 gallons of LP gas/month. If an electric refrigerator will be used in a standalone system, it should be a high-efficiency type. Some high-efficiency conventional AC refrigerators use as little as 1200 watt-hours of electricity/day at a 70º average air temperature. A comparably sized Sun Frost refrigerator/freezer uses half that amount of energy and a SunDanzer refrigerator (without a freezer) uses less than 100 watt-hours per day. The higher cost of good quality DC refrigerators is offset by savings in the number of solar modules and batteries required.

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