Types of solar powered water heaters, advantages, benefits, DIY home
project ideas. Can you really save money and help in greenhouse
emission reduction, when using the solar power to heat the water?
If you live in North America (US and Canada) you will find that solar water heaters are much more expensive than gas and electric ones. However, the good news is that government provides great tax breaks to make them more attractive and affordable. The sun is providing free energy and many enthusiasts and handyman ideas and plans how to build.
A good quality, professionally installed and well-kept solar-powered water heaters (SPWH) can last from 20 to 30 years, almost twice as long as the conventional type. The payback period can be between 5 and 10 years, but it depends on many factors.
The amount of hot water generated by the free solar power depends on many factors also, which includes the region where you live and the climate, type of the system you will install, the capacity of the units, sun exposure...
Solar heating systems use the free and green energy and when used in combination with the electric or gas heaters, they drastically reduce the energy consumption.
Do not pollute the environment.
Solar water heating systems can provide hot water up to 80% of the home needs.
There are several solar domestic hot water systems (SDHWS) that are mostly used. Some are more, some are less complex and even with the different heating process, systems can share the same components.
Passive solar powered water heaters use gravity and natural convection so hot water can circulate through the solar collectors with no use of the external energy and moving mechanical parts.
The advantage of these systems is a simpler design, which makes them economical and less exposed to the problems. Great examples of the passive systems are the Integral Collector Storage or short ICS (also known as the batch heater) and thermosyphon system. See the DIY ideas here.
Active solar-powered water heaters use a circulation pump, controllers, and valves, which will force the heating fluid to circulate through the system. Its advantage over the passive system is a better control and flexibility in installation.
Active units can be used year-round since they utilize the heating fluid that can withstand lower temperatures. The most used and popular types are Drainback, Draindown, and Pressurized Glycol.
If the heating fluid is potable water, which is heated directly in the solar collector, we are talking about direct systems. Typical examples are ICS and Draindown systems. The advantage is that the energy loss during the heat transfer between the heating fluid and potable water is reduced, but the drawback is that these systems are subjected to the sediment buildup.
In indirect solar-powered water heaters, potable water is heated by the heating fluid, usually the anti-freeze fluid such as glycol. Drainback and the Pressurized Glycol are great examples of the indirect systems. They are ideal for regions with the hard water and year-round.
The panels and storage tanks are the main components of almost every solar water heater.
Solar panels are designed to collect the solar heat which is passed on the heating fluid or potable water. The most popular ones are the flat plate panels which consist of the insulated box, cover, absorber plate, and tubes. There are also solar collectors designed as tubes and known as evacuated or vacuum tubes.
Storage tanks are used to hold the solar heated water and are usually equipped with the electric backup heating element to increase the temperature of water to the desired temperature, especially during the cloudy and cold days or nights. They are very well insulated to preserve the energy and can directly transfer the hot water to the tap or feed the gas or electric tank.
If you live in the southern, warmer region, buying any type of the above mentioned solar-powered water heaters should be a no-brainer. SDHWS can provide enough hot water for one household, which saves an overall used energy, plus it reduces the pollution. Based on many years of reliable water heating, ICS, drainback and Pressurized Glycol are the systems that are recommended by the professional.
Solar water heating systems are also used to heat the swimming pools and extend the pool season.
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