Solar Water Heating
When it comes to house hold bills, one of the biggest can be for producing the hot water your family
needs. So Solar Water Heating has to be worth investigating. This use of Solar Power should certainly make savings
on your electric bill, and could well pay for itself within 2 to 4 years.
If you have been considering investing in a solar system and possibly install a solar water heater, the
following advice could help you make your decision.
Solar heating panels are quite different from photovoltaic panels which are used to produce electricity for the
home. These panels transfer heat from the sun into your home.
Efficiency - These panels are efficient and reliable, and can produce up to 50 or 60% of your
domestic hot water requirements.
Supplemental - But you will need an alternative water heating system, such as Gas or
Electric, to produce the rest of the hot water. This system also heats the water up to the temperature that is
needed for showering and washing up.
But for some people, the solar water heater produces sufficient hot water.
Freedom - Solar systems also set you free from depending on the large energy supply companies
and being subject to their price increases, as well as, free from the effects of power blackouts.
There are a couple of methods available :-
Solar Vacuum Tube Collectors
This system consists of a number of transparent tubes that contain the heat transfer fluid, such as
Glycol, and a mirror back plate to reflect the heat of the sun and transfer it to the fluid which is
pumped back to a hot water cylinder that contains another heat transfer system. This fluid is continualy flowing
around the system gathering the heat from the sun and transfering it to the hot water cylinder.
Solar Flat Plate Collectors
This system is slightly different in that it tends to use a darkened back plate that absorbs the heat of the sun
and transfers it to a contained radiator or lattice work of copper pipes and then transfers this heat in the same
way as the other system.
Cloudy Days? - These 2 systems are both able to produce heat from diffused solar radiation as
well as from direct sunlight. This means that heat can still be produced on cloudy days, and during winter months.
Solar hot water heating systems have been used satisfactorily in almost every region.
Little Space? - Due to the efficiency of these new heat transfer panels, you need far
fewer "solar hours" to produce hot water than to produce the electricity for your whole house. As far less roof
space is needed for solar water panels than for Photo Voltaic panels, almost anyone can make room on their roof to
fit these heat transfer panels.
How many? - The number of heat transfer panels you will need to install depends on a number of
factors. Such as your local climate, the direction your roof is facing, the angle of slope of your roof and whether
there are any shading problems, such as overhanging trees.
It will also depend on your hot water usage, the total amount and when you use it. A professional can help
you estimate the number of panels you will need for your particular situation.
Positioning - The positioning of your panels is vitally important, to gather the maximum amount
of heat but also so the pipework to the hot water tanks in the house are as short as possible. The longer the pipes
the greater the heat loss and the energy needed to pump the water around the system.
In the UK south facing rooves are best for maximum heat collection. The angle of the panels can make a big
difference and an angle between 20-50 degrees is best.
Secure Supply - If you live in a region that suffers frequent power cuts, it could be that a
secure supply is the most important reason for investing in solar power.
There can be major loss of perishable food stuffs because of power cuts which are not always refunded
through insurance policies. So you could save significant amounts of money as well as have peace of mind through
your own safe and secure power supply.
Implementation - Solar hot water heating does not have to be used as part of a larger solar
power system. Once you experience the cost savings from solar heating, you could well want to use solar energy for
other utility needs.
But this does not mean you have to switch completely to solar power. As there
are ways of producing power for particular appliances :-
Internal Use -
- You can use small photovoltaic panels to charge deep cycle batteries and then run your fridge or freezer
from these batteries.
- You can buy small solar chargers for mobile phones and Ipads.
- You can use solar trickle chargers to top up your car battery.
- You can fit solar powered extraction fans.
External Use - There are other solar products available for external use.
- Solar Heating Pods can be used to heat your swimming pool.
- Solar lights can be used outdoors to light your deck or garden paths.
- Solar lighting for garages and garden sheds.
- Solar aeration pumps for ponds.
There are numerous online sites that now sell solar equipment. This means that you can "dip your toe in the
water" by starting with small inexpensive solar systems before moving on to more expensive complete
Another benefit is that every time you produce your own solar-generated power, it reduces in a small way the
demand on the burning of fossil fuels and helps to counter global warming.
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