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What Is a Solar Water Heater?

The solar water heater uses the energy from the sun to generate heat which can then be used to heat cold water for your home. It offers a cost-effective way of obtaining hot water.

Advantages of Using Solar Water Heaters

1. Save Money
Since solar energy is free, you can have your annual water heating bills cut by 50% by using a solar water heater.

2. Reduce Carbon Footprint
Using solar water heaters helps reduce a household’s reliance on traditional energy. Hence, the pollution associated with producing that energy is reduced. About 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide will be prevented from entering the atmosphere annually by installing a certified solar water heater. This helps create a cleaner environment, which is beneficial to us and our future generations.

In addition, our solar water heater can be used for more than 15 years. That means you can enjoy long-term hot water supply freely by just one investment.

Types of Solar Water Heater

According to the circulation mode, the solar water heater is generally divided into two types, active and passive. The former has circulation pumps while the latter doesn’t.

Active Solar Water Heating System
The active solar water heating system is further divided into two types, direct and indirect.

1. Direct Circulation System
Household water is directly circulated by pumps through the solar collectors. Such system is suitable for areas where freezing rarely happens.

2. Indirect Circulation System
The heat converted from solar energy by collectors is transferred to a heat-transfer fluid. This fluid is then circulated by pumps through the collectors and a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger then transfers the heat obtained from the fluid to the cold water in the tank. The indirect solar hot water system is popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.

Passive Solar Water Heating System
Though less efficient than active systems, the passive solar water heating system is more reliable and durable. For this system, the water tank is generally mounted above the solar collector.

How a Solar Water Heater Works

For a common passive solar water heater, its working principle is as follows.

The evacuated tube solar collector absorbs solar energy and converts it into heat. The cold water in the tube absorbs the heat and its temperature rises. The heated water goes upwards into the water storage tank while the cold water in the tank flows down into the tube due to its greater density. This process repeats and finally all water in the tank reach a certain temperature.

Flat Plate Collector and Evacuated Tube Collector

Used for capturing solar radiation, the solar thermal collector is a key part of the solar water heater. The most commonly used solar collectors are flat plate collector and evacuated tube collector.

A typical flat plat collector is an insulated metal box with a glass cover on top and a dark-colored absorber plate on the bottom. It is often mounted on a roof. The glass cover is made of tempered glass which is able to withstand hail, so that the flat plat collector is highly durable.

More complex than the flat plate collector, the evacuated tube collector produces higher temperature water. Its key part, the evacuated tube, is essentially two concentric glass tubes, the space between which is evacuated to form a vacuum. The inner tube has a coating that is responsible for absorbing solar energy and converting it into heat. The vacuum between tubes ensures less heat loss, which finally results in hotter water.

Installation of Solar Hot Water System

1. Discuss with your installer about the best place to install the system, making sure that the solar collectors are not shaded by tress or nearby buildings, so as to receive the maximum amount of sunlight.

2. If the solar hot water system is mounted on a roof, make sure that the roof is strong enough to withstand the system, as the whole system with the storage tank full of water is quite heavy.

3. Connect relevant pipes and make sure the pipes are insulated.

Maintenance of Solar Water Heater

Generally, little maintenance is required after the solar water heating system is installed. However, if you do that little bit of maintenance, the service life of your system can be prolonged substantially.

In a solar hot water system, there are many pipes, fittings, and valves. These parts need to be checked regularly to ensure normal operation. Pipes should have no leakage; fittings should be tight; and valves should not be stuck. The water storage tank should have no leaks or cracks and the solar collector also requires regular check to ensure proper function. In addition, the whole system needs a thorough inspection every 3 to 7 years.

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