For home use, the 12 volt solar panel is the most common system pushed by the home solar panel industry. But the use of solar panels to heat water has been used to heat swimming pools. Another segment called ‘SHC’ or solar heating and cooling is sometimes used to heat air.
When considering any thermal application with solar used to raise the temperature of media, the use of delta T, or a temperature difference to provide power, heating and cooling immediately comes to mind. The use of ground temperature to mediate the temperature differences, implemented with fields of buried coils, has been used for many years to implement more efficient heating, cooling and hot water systems.
Geothermal Ground Loop
Ground source heat pumps are regarded, in most climates, to be far more efficient than heat pumps that use an air condenser. In a sense, in winter climates, the ground source loop is extracting solar thermal heat from the ground to convert to heat. Studies show that over the season, ground loops will cool the ground, and the heat pump will have to work harder. However, this can also be seen as energy storage in the form of cooling capacity if the climate warrants air conditioning during the following season.