Welcome to Solar-Balloons.com
You've just landed on the solar balloon central of the Web.
- What is a solar balloon?
A solar balloon is any type of hot air balloon that is heated by the sun.
- How do they work?
Solar balloons are dark in color - almost always black -
and this dark color easily absorbs energy from the sun, which heats the balloon surface. Air inside the balloon is heated by the surface of the balloon, and the hot air rises to lift the balloon skyward.
- What are they made of?
Most typically, they are made of a thin plastic sheeting - the same stuff garbage bags are made from. Because of this, you can make a working solar balloon using thin, black, cheap trash bags.
- How big are they?
Solar balloons have been made as small as 3.5 feet tall and as large as over 60 feet tall. They can also be made in a variety of shapes - cylindrical, tetrahedral, rectangular, traditional hot air balloon shape, or even special shapes.
- How high can they fly?
Solar balloons have been recorded at altitudes up to about 50,000 feet. Maximum altitude depends on the size of the balloon and its payload, but most solar balloons will fly at least into the jet stream and often higher.
- How far can they fly?
As long as the sun is out, they will fly. If they reach into or above the jet stream, they will pick up incredible speeds and fly several hundred miles in a day before cooling down and descending around sunset.
- When will solar balloons not fly?
Cloudy weather, windy weather, and very hot weather in some climates. Since they must be significantly warmer than the surrounding air to fly, they won't usually lift off when the sun is obstructed or the wind is strong enough to cool off and even deflate the balloon. Sometimes, if the weather is too hot, they will have trouble flying because of less temperature difference between the inside and outside of the balloon. Hot weather flights are usually possible though, especially for larger balloons.