Solar Hot Water Heater
Solar hot water heaters heat water by utilizing the power of natural sunlight and represent the most reliable and cost-effective application of solar energy.
In pond or lake, the water closer to the surface is warmer than the deeper water because the surface water is constantly being warmed by natural sunlight. Solar hot water systems use solar energy in this same way to heat water for home or business use without the need to burn traditional fuel.
How Solar Hot Water Heater Systems Works
Solar hot water heater systems have both a storage tanks and solar collectors. A circulation pump moves the water from the tanks to the collectors by heating it.
The most common type of collector is a flat plate collector. A flat plate collector consists of a thin, flat, rectangular box with a transparent cover that faces the sun. Small tubes run throughout carrying fluid or water to be heated. In cold climates, they carry antifreeze solution instead. These tubes are attached to an absorber plate which is painted black to better absorb heat. As the heat builds up in the collector, it heats the fluid passing through the tubes.
The storage tanks are large and well insulated and are responsible for containing the heated fluid. Another tube is attached to the storage tank and is then responsible for conveying it into the home or other building.
There are several types of solar hot water systems.
The active system features a circulating pump and can be used in colder climates where it frost and snow are common. It contains antifreeze fluid which circulates from the collector to the heat exchanger is installed in storage tank. The heat exchanger then heats water for use in the home or business. This type of system is more expensive, but it is also more efficient.
The direct circulation system has pumps that circulate household water through the collectors and then directly into the home. This type of system works well in warmer climates where frost is not a common problem.
The indirect circulation system has pumps that circulate antifreeze fluid through the collectors and then through the heat exchanger which in turn heats water before conveying it into the home. This kind of active system works well even where it freezes in winter.
In a passive system, the water circulates first through the collectors and then flows back into the home. In this system, the collector must be installed below the storage tank allowing warm water to rise within the storage tank itself. The cooler water in the tank sinks allowing the collectors to then warm that water and convey it to the house as well. It is a very reliable system, but the installing contractor must be mindful of the roof design because of the weight of the storage tank.
A passive system is less expensive than an active system, as well as more reliable and longer lasting, but it works best where it is warm and rarely freezes.
Solar water heating systems are the least expensive and most effective active solar power system on the market today, making it possible to conserve fossil fuels and electricity for other uses.
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