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Solar Water Heater

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Solar Water Heater

Efficient Hot Water

A solar water heater can meet part or all of a home's hot water needs depending on the type of solar water heater that is being used and the geographic location of your home. The solar hot water technology that is available today can be operated efficiently and affordably in any climate and they are specifically designed for various climatic and geographical areas of the country. A solar water heater in a typical household can meet 50 to 80 percent of the hot water needs. In southern climates, a solar water heater can meet nearly 100 percent of a household's hot water needs.

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Solar Water Heater

Solar Water Heater Solar water heater units are being installed across the United States at in increasing rate because these systems have been proven efficient and reliable at meeting homes hot water needs. The number of solar water heater installations is continuing to grow by the thousands each and every year. Though a solar water heater cost a little bit more up front to install than a standard water heater, a carbon free solar water heating system will save you money in the long run as the fuel source will always be free. Not to mention, the reduction in demand for fossil fuels used to heat water helps to improve the environment by reducing air and water pollution as well as the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.

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How Does a Solar Water Heater Work?

There are two types of solar water heating systems, passive solar water heaters and active solar water heaters. An active solar water heater system utilizes a circulating pump and some type of temperature control. Passive solar water heater systems do not have any moving parts and rely on the basic principle of physics, which is that hot water rises and cold water falls. Active systems all function in the same basic way, however there are different configurations used depending on your climate zone. Passive systems come in two basic types, which are thermosyphon and batch, with each system having its distinct advantages. Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they are usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and tend to last longer than active systems do.

Generally, a solar water heater system requires a well-insulated hot water storage tank, a solar collector that absorbs solar energy, a back-up energy source, and for forced circulation systems, a pump and controls. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

Most solar water heater systems also have back-up water heating using either electricity or gas. Most systems require a backup system for cloudy days or times of increased demand. Conventional storage water heaters usually provide a backup and may be included in your solar system package. Backup systems can also be part of the solar collector, such as rooftop tanks with thermosyphon systems.

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What Is An Active Solar Water Heater?

There are two types of active solar water heating systems available, direct circulation systems and indirect circulation systems. A direct circulation system uses a pump to circulate household water through the solar collectors and into the home for use. These tend to work better in climates where it rarely freezes.

Indirect circulation systems uses a pump to circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the solar collectors and a heat exchanger. This process heats the water that then circulates into the home for use. These are better suited in climates prone to freezing temperatures.

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What Is A Passive Solar Water Heater?

There are two types of passive water heating systems available, integral collector-storage passive systems and thermosyphon systems. Integral collector-storage passive systems, also called batch water heaters, consists of a water tank integrated into or located above a solar collector. The solar collector heats the water and stores it inside the collector. These work best in areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. They also work well in households with significant daytime and evening hot-water needs.

In a thermosyphon system, water flows through the system allowing warm water to rise as cooler water sinks. The collector must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These systems are reliable, but because the storage tanks are so heavy, you must pay close attention to the roof design because of the heavy storage tank. Thermosyphon system are usually more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.

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Solar Water Heater Collectors

There are several types of solar collectors. Flat-plate collectors, which consist of a flat copper plate, painted black, that has water tubes attached to the absorber plate. As solar energy falls on the copper plate and is absorbed, the energy is transferred to water flowing in the tubes. The absorber plate is mounted in a weatherproofed casing that has a clear covering and insulation to protect the absorber plate from heat loss.

Another type of solar collector is the integrated collector and storage system Integral collector and storage systems combine the function of hot water storage and solar energy collection into one unit. Cold water first passes through the solar collector, which preheats the water. The water then continues on to the conventional backup water heater, providing a reliable source of hot water. They should be installed only in mild-freeze climates because the outdoor pipes could freeze in severe, cold weather.

The third type of solar collector is the evacuated tube collector, which produce higher temperature water and are more complex than flat plate collectors. Evacuated tube collectors consist of a series of transparent glass tubes in parallel rows that contain a heat pipe to absorb solar energy and transfer it to a liquid medium. The tubes are evacuated (vacuum) so that there is very little heat loss from the tube. This system used more frequently for commercial applications.

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