The most common piece of solar equipment that is installed in our house is perhaps the solar water heater. Since young, while I was traveling inside my father's car, I've always noticed a big, bulky, shiny object on top on the roof of the houses in my neighborhood.
"What's that?" I asked my dad.
"Son, it's solar powered water heater, using it to heat up the water and keep the water warm." answered my father.
I did not really bother about it much at that time, enjoying my hot water bath and taking things for granted.
It was when I started watching Discovery Channel and realized our Earth was dying. We (Earthlings or human) were expending our Earth resources exponentially year after year, creating huge pollutions and cutting down our trees massively. I started to find ways to save the Earth, trying to do my part and create awareness to warn others.
If you are living in a house with a rooftop, and you want to do your part in saving our Earth, you are in luck. I'm going to show you how you can start your "Captain Planet" mission.
Solar Water Heater Advantages
First of all, if you have a rooftop, you can start by installing a solar water heater. It comprises mainly of 2 components – a huge water tank for storing water, and solar collectors. Once you get your solar water heater system installed, you can start enjoying your free hot water for life. There are many other advantages such as:
- Free supply of hot water – just the initial setup cost
- Easy to install – you can DIY or pay others to install for you
- Fully automatic – No need to turn on any switches. You'll get your hot water right from your tap
- Space-free – The water tank will not take up any spaces inside your house. It'll be installed on your rooftop.
- Save the environment – This is perhaps the most important factor. You can help by burning less gas. Use natural solar energy instead.
Needless to say, most of the people installed solar water heater to reduce or cut their electricity and gas bills. Nothing wrong with that. Whatever reasons you have, just go ahead and install one!
How Does Solar Water Heater System Works?
Before you decide whether it makes sense to install a solar heater at your house, you need to know how solar water heater roughly works. I'm not going to go into the details, as it'll bored everyone (including myself). I'll try to explain as simple as possible to make sure you know the basic of solar water heater system.
I'll break down and explain in details below, but this is how Solar Water Heater System will be:
Solar Water Heater System
- Direct Circulation System
- Indirect Circulation System
- Integral Collector Storage Passive System (Batch Heater)
- Thermosyphon System
Our main solar water heater system can be classified into 2 groups: Active and Passive System. The main difference between the 2 groups are active solar water heater system comes with circulating system, such as pumps and controls while passive solar water heater system doesn't.
Since active solar water heater system comes with circulating system, so what's the difference between direct and indirect? As the name suggests, direct circulation system pumps water directly through the solar collectors before going into the homes. It makes use of electrical controls to do that. And 1 important factor to take note is that direct circulation system is used in areas where the water doesn't freeze during winter.
For indirect circulation system, antifreeze or heat exchanged fluid is pumped through the solar collectors instead of water. As you can guess, these antifreeze fluid has lower freezing point and therefore can maintain in liquid form during the winter. These antifreeze will be heat up through the solar collectors and bring these heat to a huge water tank (heat exchanger) and heat up the water inside before pumping the hot water back to the homes. This indirect circulation system is perfect for places with freezing winters.
Passive solar water heating system works much simpler. For integral collector storage passive system, also called batch heater, water tank is built directly on the top of the roof of the house. Sun's warm is heating up the water inside the tank directly, and water flows to the home through gravity or minor pumps. This is what my neighborhood is using, convenient and direct!
For thermosyphon system, the main water tank is separate from the solar collectors. The solar collector does have a small tank of water. As the water heats up, it becomes lighter and travels down to the main water tank. Cold water is then pump up to the solar collector's water tank and the process continues. The hot water from the main water tank is then pumped into the house.
Solar Water Heater Panels
After having some basic understanding of the types of solar water heating system, it's good to know the fundamentals of the solar water heater panels as well. When we talk about panels, we are referring to the heating devices that face the sun directly. It is this panels that heats up the water, or antifreeze and considers the most important elements in the whole solar water heating system.
There are 3 different types of solar collector panels, listed below:
- Flat-plate Collectors – dark colored absorber plate with glass cover. Mainly use for solar pool heating.
- Integral Collector Storage System – made of black tanks. Cold water passes through, gets heated and back to the main water tank.
- Evacuated-tube Solar Collectors – made of parallel rows of transparent glass tubes. Can trap heats and temperature can go up to 350oF. Consider the best among all.
Solar Water Heater DIY
If you are technically strong, and understands the basic electrical and mechanical drawings, you can go ahead and do-it-yourself. Many people are treating it as a hobby, converting their homes into environmental friendly, energy saving homes. You just have to call your nearby agent, purchase the parts individually and assembler yourself.
However, do take note of the safety precautions, such as falling from your roof, injury while carrying the heavy water tank and overheating. I strongly suggest you download this ebook
an read through to have better understanding before deciding whether to engage an external agent or DIY.
Solar Water Heater System Cost
The cost of the solar water heater system varies from countries to countries. Some governments encourage their people to install solar heater, and greatly subsidizes for them. China, for example, manufactures solar panels, and therefore can be installed cheaply.
No matter where you are in the world, if you have sufficient sunlight in the day, or even 9 months a year, it is definitely worth to install one. The prices of gas and electricity goes up year after year. With a solar heater, you just have to pay for the initial setup cost, the usage will be free. You can use as much as your water tank can hold, without worrying about a single cent anymore. In long run, you will see a substantial amount saved! Not only that, you are saving the environments as well. Trust me, go for it!
I'll list a few solar heaters below. You can click the photos for reviews.
Solar Water Heater System
Gulf Stream Solar Kits for medium Family (3-4 people)
Complete 2 Panel Hybrid Solar Water Heater Kit
GLE Solar Water Heater
30 Tube Spilt Solar Water Heater Collector
400 Litre Solar Water Heating System
AO Smith SUN-80 Residential Solar Water Heater
So what do you think of solar heater? Good to install? Maybe you've already install and will like to share your experiences below? I'm sure other readers will be interested in your opinions.