In warm climates, solar water heaters can meet about 60 to 70 percent of a home’s hot water needs annually. Capabilities drop during the winter and in colder climates. Because of this, solar water heaters are usually used in conjunction with a traditional back up system.
The most common type of solar water heater consists of an active system that utilizes pumps and controls to circulate water between a collector, a well-insulated storage tank, and the home. Some active systems pump water directly from the collectors, others circulate it through a heat exchanger before distribution in the home.
Unlike active solar water heaters, passive systems don’t use pumps but rely on gravity and natural circulation for hot water distribution. A thermosyphon passive system, for instance, is installed below a storage tank so warm water can rise up into the tank.
Both types, however, utilize collectors to heat the water. These collectors are designed to absorb the sun’s energy, getting hot enough to heat the water passing through. The three most common collectors are flat plate, integral collector-storage, and evacuated tube. Flat plate collectors consist of dark metal or polymer located in rectangular boxes on the roof. Small tubes carry water there to be heated. Flat plate collectors are often used to heat pools. Integral collector-storage collectors consist of black tubes in an insulated, glazed box. Evacuated-tube collectors, primarily used for commercial purposes, consist of rows of glass tubes connected to heat absorbing metal tubes and fins.
Once you’ve purchased your solar water heating system of choice, contact a a
certified installer to get the project started.
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