Solar Water Heater
Solar water heating system is one of the most cost-effective way to provide hot water in a household. Using the energy from the sun, your hot water can be equivalent to almost zero cost. Solar energy is free, so the most cost will be the initial installation and the purchase. However, this cost will be easily paid off for only 3 to 4 years. So, if we are looking for bigger savings, this system will help you save. Not only you can save financially but also you can help save the environment. Solar hot water system can reduce your carbon footprint. In fact there are Federal Government incentives with Renewable Energy Certificates (REC’s) which you may be able to receive incentives using a solar water heating system. (http://www.dsireusa.org/solar/ )
Indeed, living in a place where you can take advantage of the solar energy is a blessing. However, during winter, when solar energy is not available, a conventional boiler can be used. Typically, solar heater requires back up system during winter time. A back-up can be either part of solar system package or if you have conventional tank-water heater, solar water heating system can be part of the package.
Is it right for your household?
If you are considering solar water system, the following are important things to take note:
- You will need to check your site. You will need a place where you can put solar panels. A rooftop is a perfect place for it but it can also be hanged or mounted in a wall. You may need at least 50 square feet (five or more square meters) to put solar panels. The location should have an access to direct sunlight throughout the day.
- You will need a place for a hot water cylinder. In case you have not installed a solar cylinder, you may need one and a place to install it. In this kind of hot water system, you will need a hot water storage cylinder to store heat from the solar panels or thermal collectors. This cylinder has a built-in heat-exchanger to heat cold water.
- You will need a compatible boiler for this system. Most conventional boilers and hot water cylinders are compatible with solar water heating. So, if you have a combination boiler and do not have a hot water cylinder, a solar heating system may not be a good choice for you.
- You will need to estimate the cost and energy efficiency. Estimating the cost and the savings can help you determine its worth. It will help you decide. The amount of sunlight available in your location will affect the amount of hot water it will produce.
- You will need to investigate local codes and regulations. This is why it is important to have a qualified solar thermal systems contractor to install. They know the existing codes, and regulations of the state. A state-licensed contractor will be a best help. They may also be a home association restrictions.
How do they work?
Solar water heating system has two types:
- The active, which mean it has circulating pumps and controls. The active solar water heating system can be either direct circulation or indirect circulation. Direct circulation means the pumps circulate the water from the collectors to the household. This kind of system works well in a warmer climate. On the other hand, indirect circulation works well in the colder climate or prone to freeze. The pumps circulate a non freezing heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water then flows into the household.
- The passive, which means it does not have circulating pumps and controls. It is cheaper, reliable and last longer. However, it is not as efficient as active. Passive system can be either integral collector-storage or a thermosyphon. Integral collector-storage system is typically for warmer place that seldom fall below freezing. Also, it is good for a bigger household who frequently use hot water. Thermosyphon, however, is reliable but has heavy storage tank. This is why if installed in roof, make sure it won’t damage it. Proper installation from a professional contractor should be considered. These are most often used in areas not prone to freezing.
After proper installation, make sure you understand the maintenance work so your household can have an efficient and energy-saving water heater.