DIY Solar Hot Water Heating

DIY Solar Hot Water Heating Solar Hot Water, or Solar Thermal, is one of the most popular and cost-effective forms of Solar Energy that is available, and one of the most widely-used.  The major reasons for the popularity of Solar Hot Water Heating is that there are a wide variety of uses for the technology, and the system costs are significantly lower than a standard Solar Electric System…mostly because far less equipment is needed to purchase, install, and use a Solar Hot Water system than with a Solar Electric System.

Traditional uses of Solar Hot Water Heating include:

  • Domestic Hot Water for Homes
  • Radiant Heating
  • Hot Water for Hotels
  • Hot Water for Apartment Buildings
  • Hot Water for Laundromats
  • Hot Water for Carwashes
  • Hot Water for Industrial and Commercial Properties
  • Pool Heating
  • Spa Heating

Essentially, if there is an application that you use hot water for, that same task can be accomplished with a Solar Hot Water Heater, saving you hundreds, or thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the system.

And, to make things even better, there are a number of different types of  Solar Collectors for Solar Hot Water Heating, just like there are numerous different types of solar cells and panels, that are designed for different applications, budgets, and locations.  This means that Solar Hot Water Heating is among the most versatile and affordable Renewable Energy Technologies available today.

The main types of Solar Hot Water Heater Collectors are:

  • Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors: these collectors are cylindrical, and are combined in groups of 15, 20, 25, or more, to form a single Solar Collector (or panel).  Those Solar Collectors can then be grouped into larger arrays (consisting of a certain number of solar collectors) that are used in conjunction with each other much like a Grid-Tied or Off-Grid Solar Kit uses a number of panels in series or parallel.  The Evacuated Tube Collectors have many advantages over other Solar Hot Water Heaters:  they are more efficient because their rounded shape allows for 360 degree solar collection, collection earlier and later in the day than a flat solar collector, and because the tubes themselves do not contain any water or glycol, just a vacum sealed area that transfers heat to a manifold through a copper heat pipe.
  • Flat Plate Solar Collectors: are flat, much like a traditional Solar Panel, and when water, or a glycol solution is passed through them, it is heated by a number of internal heat pipes similar to those in an Evacuated Tube.  However, because the Flat Plate Collectors have water moving directly through them, they are less freeze protected than an Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors, and are therefore recommended more for warmer climates where freezing is less of an issue than in the North.  Additionally, because the Flat Plate Collector is flat, it has a much narrower time frame for which to heat water with the power of the sun.  Their largest benefit, however, is that they are generally less costly (in initial investment) than an Evacuated Tube Hot Water Heater.
  • Thermosyphon System Hot Water Heaters: are an all inclusive package that combines Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors with a built in storage tank that mounts directly to the top of the collector where a manifold would normally go.  This limits the cost of the entire system because a separate storage tank, indoors, with internal heat exchangers is not necessary.  However, because the Thermosyphon Systems are entirely outdoors, and the potable water (not a glycol mix) is stored in the connected storage tank, they can only be used in areas where freezing is not possible.  If the air temperature were to get to freezing, the frozen water in the storage tank could damage tank, leading to a costly, demanding repair job.

The layout of these systems, regardless of different collectors which may be used is still relatively standard, as far as the major components involved, and their general placement within the system.  To look at the typical layout of a Solar Hot Water Heater, please click here. Or, click here for our Solar Hot Water Heating FAQ section.

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