DIY Solar Hot Water System Sizing

Solar Thermal, or Solar Hot Water Hot Water Heating Systems are one of the most popular and widely-used Solar Energy Systems in the world. Even in areas where Solar Electric Systems for homes and offices are not as cost-effective as their owners would like them to be, Solar Thermal Systems, with the numerous different types of collectors available, and systems costing only a few thousand dollars for basic domestic hot water heating, are as cost-effective and efficient as Solar Energy Technology can get today.

However, just with any Solar Energy System, it is important that you Solar Hot Water Heater be properly sized to fit your needs. This is important because if you purchase a system that is far too large for your application and location, you will have wasted money on additional material and installation that was not needed, which means that your new Solar Hot Water Heater will take far longer to pay itself back than it truly should.

Moreover, if you purchase a Solar Hot Water Heater that is too small to be used for the application that you intend, you will find that it is not producing nearly enough Solar Energy to limit your reliance on other, more expensive Energy Fuels, and you will not be able to take full advantage of the savings that Solar Energy Systems are designed to bear. This too will lengthen the payback period of your Solar Hot Water Heater, and limit the cost-effectiveness of your Solar Hot Water Heater. Neither of which is a scenario that is any help to you, and is often times just a useless waste of money.

The best available resource for determining the proper size of a Solar Hot Water Heater for your application and your location is a program known as RETScreen, developed and distributed by the Canadian Government. If you are purchasing a Solar Hot Water Heater for Domestic Hot Water, or for heating your swimming pool, RETScreen is the one resource that will deliver maximum results at a great price…FREE!

You can find RETScreen here.

While RETScreen may be perfect for determining the size of Solar Hot Water Heater for Domestic Hot Water and Pool Heating, it is not designed to assist with one of the most popular uses of Solar Hot Water today, Radiant Floorboard Heating.

Yes, many Solar Hot Water Heaters sold today are intended for use in heating homes through radiant floor heating. In fact, the average home can supply between 50 and 80% of the heat that they need for their home, or more, for just a few thousand dollars.

While sizing for a Solar Hot Water Heater for Radiant Floor Heating is a complex process, and often involves a professional heating and cooling specialist, it is possible to get a rough idea, which can be used as a very good baseline system for your own home or office. Here is the sizing formula that you should use.

In Southern climates, where temperatures are generally warmer, even in the winter months, your Solar Hot Water Heating System for Radiant Floor Heating should be roughly 1/10 (10%) the square footage of the home or office that you intend to heat.  In Northern climates where winter and nighttime temperatures are much cooler, you Solar Hot Water Heat should be 2/10 (20%) of the square footage of your home or office.

Let us take a look at two identical homes (one in the South, and one in the North) and determine how large of Solar Hot Water Heating System each would need to provide Radiant Floor Heating.

House Square Footage : 1,000 sq ft
Size of SunMaxx 20 Collector : 36 sq ft

Southern House- 10% : 100 sq ft
Number of Collectors : 3 SunMaxx 20 Solar Collectors
Total Collector Cost : 2,189.95

Northern House- 20%: 200 sq ft
Number of Collectors: 6 SunMaxx 20 Solar Collectors
Total Collector Cost: 4,379.70

There you have, a simple, free way to determine the size Solar Hot Water Heater that you need for one of the most common uses of Solar Hot Water, Radiant Floor Heating. Feel free to use this method to determine how many Solar Collectors it would take to heat your own home or office. Chances are, it will not be as expensive as you think…and the savings will make it more than worth it.

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