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[en] Highlights: → Use two kinds of circulation media in the solar collector. → Air heating and pebble bed heat storage are applied with different operating modes. → Design parameters of the system are optimized by simulation program. → It is found that the system can meet 32.8% of the thermal energy demand in heating season. → Annual solar fraction aims to be 53.04%. -- Abstract: The application of solar air collectors for space heating has attracted extensive attention due to its unique advantages. In this study, a solar air heating system was modeled through TRNSYS for a 3319 m2 building area. This air heating system, which has the potential to be applied for space heating in the heating season (from November to March) and hot water supply all year around in North China, uses pebble bed and water storage tank as heat storage. Five different working modes were designed based on different working conditions: (1) heat storage mode, (2) heating by solar collector, (3) heating by storage bed, (4) heating at night and (5) heating by an auxiliary source. These modes can be operated through the on/off control of fan and auxiliary heater, and through the operation of air dampers manually. The design, optimization and modification of this system are described in this paper. The solar fraction of the system was used as the optimization parameter. Design parameters of the system were optimized by using the TRNSYS program, which include the solar collector area, installation angle of solar collector, mass flow rate through the system, volume of pebble bed, heat transfer coefficient of the insulation layer of the pebble bed and water storage tank, height and volume of the water storage tank. The TRNSYS model has been verified by data from the literature. Results showed that the designed solar system can meet 32.8% of the thermal energy demand in the heating season and 84.6% of the energy consumption in non-heating season, with a yearly average solar fraction of 53.04%.