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Solar Water Heaters

Solar hot water, otherwise known as SWH, is water turned hot by solar energy obtained from sunlight for residential, commercial or industrial uses. Solar water heating systems are made of solar thermal collectors, a water storage tank, and a heat transfer fluid (HTF).

How SWH Function
Solar water heaters in 2 versions: active (pumped) or passive (compact). The solar thermal collector, set up on a roof or a wall facing the sun, warms up the liquid that is then pumped via an active system or pushed by natural convection in a passive solar water heater. Solar thermal collectors are made of an insulated box with a glass cover with a painted black, solar metal absorber that is flat and fixed to the copper piping, or several metal tubes enclosed by a near vacuum (evacuated) cylinder of glass. Heat is preserved in a padded water storage tank with an inlet and outlet fixed to and from the solar thermal collector. Active or passive residential solar water heating systems include an auxiliary energy source (gas or electric) set off on sunless days to insure an ongoing supply of hot water when water inside the tank plummets below a specific temperature, usually of fifty five Celsius.

Active Solar Water Heating Systems
Active solar water heating systems make use of a pumping device to distribute water or HTF amid the solar thermal collector and water storage tank. Available in 2 versions - direct active units distribute water to the solar collector and back to the tank whereas indirect active units distribute heat transfer fluid through the solar thermal collector and a heat exchanger. The heat produced is transported to the water inside the tank.

Passive Solar Water Heaters
Solar devices such as Integrated Collector Storage, also known as batch heaters or ICS are made of thin rectilinear, glass tanks fixed on roofs or walls facing the sun. Water tanks serve as storage and thermal collectors. Water distribution relies on gravitation. Integrated Collector Storage are useful, simple and suitable for warm climates.

Convection Heat Storage, also known as thermosiphon or CHS are plate type or evacuated tube collectors with built-in padded water tanks. Thermosiphon units use convection to transport water in the collector to the water storage tank. More useful than Integrated Collector Storage as the solar thermal collector warms up a lesser amount of water repeatedly supplied to the water storage tank. Thermosiphon units are set up in areas with not as much sunlight as ICS.

Direct passive SWH take water from the residential water supply to circulate between the collector and storage tank. When water warms up, convection triggers it to rise and move in the direction of the water storage tank. These solar water heating systems are not suited to low temperatures as water in the solar thermal collector might ice up and ruin the panels. Indirect passive solar water heating systems make use of non-toxic, non-freezing heat transfer fluid in the solar thermal collector. When this fluid is turned hot, convection triggers it to move in the direction of the water storage tank where a passive heat exchanger transports the heat to the water inside the tank.

Whereas the maintenance of passive solar water heating systems is cheap and simple, active units are more useful at warming and retaining very hot water. Active water heating units are more expensive and much harder to mount.

Solar Thermal Collectors
Solar thermal collectors gather and hold on to heat from the sun. 3 versions of solar thermal collectors are used in residential water heating units:

Integrated Collector Storage
The water storage tank is in a glass top box with insulated walls. The glass top lets heat from the sun to reach the water storage tank, and the padded sides reduce heat wastage from the water storage tank back to the surroundings. The container also includes a mirror like surface that returns heat to the tank.

Flat Plate Collectors
A two-dimensional container enclosing a network of piping, with a large glass top that faces the sun.

Evacuated Tube Collectors
As vacuity stops heat escape, water supply lines in a near vaccum tube collector are enclosed by 2 concentric tubes of thermal shock resistant glass, making a vacuity to introduce and hold on to heat inside the collector piping.

Flat plate collectors are usually more useful than evacuated tube collectors in sunshine conditions. Nevertheless, the energy yield of two-dimensional plate collectors plunge rapidly on sunless days in contrast to the yield of evacuated tube collectors that plummets at a slower rate.

Maintenance
Setting up of solar water heating systems relies on:

  • Hot water temperature required by the instrument
  • Oscillations in surrounding air temperature in the time between day and night
  • Oscillations in surrounding air temperature and sun radiation amid winter and summer


Have expert service providers, like New York plumbers, install your solar water heating system to insure the efficiency of the instrument. Maintain your instrument every several years to keep it running smoothly. Talk over the maintenance requirements with your solar service professional or seek advice from the manufacturer instruction booklet.

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