For several households, having hot water in the tap is often essential, particularly during the cold winter season. However, this means that your energy bill will also rise, particularly if you are using a conventional water heating system. Rest assured that there are now solar water heaters which can be considered as a more sustainable and efficient alternative to your traditional water heating system. This article will tackle everything that you need to know regarding how solar water heaters work.
Components of a Solar Water Heating System
The main components of a solar water heating system include collectors, a storage tank, a heat exchanger, as well as a controller system. There are also those which have a backup heater.
The solar panels are considered as the collectors of your system. More often than not, these solar panels are installed on your roof, but they can also be mounted on the ground too as long as your space permits you to. However, you need to keep in mind that the panels used for a solar hot water system are different from the photovoltaic panels that are utilised to generate electricity. Rather, the panels for a solar water heater system convert the sun’s energy into heat.
Type of Collectors
- Batch Collectors. These panels are sometimes referred to as Integrated Collector Storage (ICS) systems. They primarily heat water using dark tanks or tubes inside an insulated box.
- Flat-plate Collectors. These panels consist of copper tubes that are fitted to flat absorber plates, hence the term flat-plate collectors. Like with batch collectors, the flat-plate assembly is also contained inside an insulated box.
- Evacuated Tube Collectors. This type of collector is regarded as the most efficient kind of collector because only a minimal amount of heat is lost from the fluid. Evacuated tube collectors also work well even in overcast weather conditions.
- Heat Exchanger and Storage Tank
A heat exchanger usually consists of a series of pipes located inside the storage tank of your solar water heater. As soon as these pipes are filled with heated water, the fluid is transferred from the pipes to your water source. From there, you will have access to hot water from your tap.
- Controller System
Solar water heating systems often employ a controller that guarantees that the water ready for you to use is not too hot. This system also ensures that cold water is not passed on to your water source, particularly during extremely cold weather conditions.
Types of Solar Water Heating Systems
Solar water heaters can be classified as either direct or indirect, as well as active or passive.
- Direct and Indirect Systems
In a direct solar water heating system, the water is heated directly by the sun’s energy. On the other hand, an indirect solar water heating system leverages an antifreeze where collected solar energy is stored. In this case, it can be deemed that indirect solar water heaters are more fitting in areas where cold winter months are expected.
- Active and Passive Systems
The main difference between active and passive systems is the use of a controller pump. In an active solar water heating system, a solar pump is used, while a passive solar water heating system relies on gravity to move the water from the system to your home.
The Bottom Line
If you need to have hot water in your tap, but you are also conscious of reducing your energy bills, as well as your carbon footprint, then a solar water heater is the best alternative for you. True enough, you need to shell out a certain sum for its purchase and installation, but from there you no longer need to pay for any monthly dues because the use of the sun’s energy is generally free. Come to think of it, you can even leverage the sun’s energy for your entire household as well rather than solely depending on the grid.