Passive vs Active Solar Energy: What’s the Difference?

There’s no denying it. Solar power is the way of the future. From homes to parking lots, solar panels are appearing everywhere. 

You’ve been thinking about using solar energy in your own home. In your research, you’ve come across the terms “active” and “passive” in reference to solar power. What does this mean?

It turns out, there is more than one way to harness the energy from the sun. This guide will help you learn the difference between passive vs active solar energy.

Passive Solar System

Systems that rely on passive solar energy only need themselves and the sun to operate. The heat that comes into your home through the windows and walls passively warms your home. If you have ever walked into a greenhouse on a sunny winter day and felt how warm it was inside, you have experienced a passive solar system.

Passive systems do not have any pumps or blowers to distribute the heat. The building has been specially designed so that it can use the sun to heat it. For example, greenhouses are designed to maximize sun exposure and help maintain heat. 

Active Solar System

An active solar energy system uses liquid or air to trap heat from the sun. The liquid or air is moved mechanically so that the heat can be transported to a storage container. This heat is then converted to energy. 

Solar panels are examples of a system that relies on active solar energy. Like all active systems, they rely on an external device to collect the energy.

Active solar energy systems do not require any special design. They only need to be installed. That makes solar panel installation an easy way to use active solar energy in your home.

Passive vs Active Solar Energy

So which type of solar energy is right for you? This depends on factors such as your building needs and the climate you live in.

Passive solar systems heavily rely on the weather. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain and cloudy days, it might not work as well. Active systems do not rely so heavily on the weather and can collect energy even on cloudy days.

You’ll also need to consider your budget. Although passive systems are considered less expensive, they require special designs that could require renovation or building a custom home.

Solar panel installation cost has steadily decreased over the years, and it is definitely cheaper than renovation. The panels will also pay for themselves over time, with most clients breaking even within 10 years’ time. Blue Raven Solar can help you find a solar panel system that works with your budget.

Harness the Power of the Sun

Now that you know the differences between passive vs active solar energy, you can decide what type of system works best for you. When you are ready to invest in solar energy in your building, contact a trusted installer to select the perfect solar system.

For more information about solar energy, check out our Technology section.