In many parts of Canada solar water heating can be most effective in winter. This is because the sun is lower on the southern horizon and hits the solar collectors directly, even if it's only for a few hours. For the few hours the sun is active you are saving many dollars in heating and hot water for the home.
A solar hot water system uses the radiant heat of the sun to either supplement or, in some instances, replace traditional water heating. How it works is that the incoming cold, ground water is heated by the sun's energy so that the electric or fuel-fired water heating system does not have to be constantly engaged to bring the water up to a temperature suitable for showering or washing clothes. Since most ground water comes into the home at around forty degrees Fahrenheit a solar hot water system gives the home's water heating system a boost before the traditional heating kicks in.
A fluid called glycol – antifreeze – passes through the solar collectors where it is heated by the sun in a form of "greenhouse effect." This liquid is pumped into a transfer tank where it passes heat energy to the incoming cold water. Both systems are separate. Lessen the Carbon Footprint
Passive Solar Water Heating
A solar water heating system is a closed system where water is either directly heated by the sun's energy or is heated by another liquid in a heat-transfer process. In a passive system the natural convection currents created by the heating process propels the water or glycol from the solar collectors to the heating unit. Direct water heating has been used to heat swimming pools for years but a glycol system is more effective because water would freeze in Canadian winters, especially during the night or when the sun was not active.
Active Solar Hot Water System
Utilizing a pump is a more efficient way to move the heated water where its needed. In an active, solar hot water system a microprocessor activates the pump which then provides the flow of hot and cold glycol from the solar collectors into the home's hot water system. In many systems a photovoltaic cell provides the electricity for the pump thus saving more energy. Active systems are more expensive but they have a higher efficiency rating than the passive kind.
1. The Formed Plastic Collector
A plastic collector is made up of tubes where water heated by the sun. These are more commonly used to heat swimming pools or showers for vacation homes but almost never used for year-round home heating
2. The Flat Plate Collector
The most commonly-used solar collector is the flat plate collector. The active part of the collector is a thin sheet of metal flanked by tubing. Insulation keeps the tubes hot until the glycol can be transferred from the collector to the transfer tank.
3. The Evacuated Tube Collector
The newest generation of solar heating is based on modular, vacuum tubes that are mounted in parallel racks. More tubes can be added to beef up the system if required. Inside each transparent glass tube is an absorber containing a copper or bronze plate. A special light-absorbing coating helps the heating process. As the sunlight penetrates the outer glass tube the absorber tube magnifies the heat and transfers it to the tubes.
For more information on solar hot water heating post your project and a contractor will contact you.
Kim Kinrade writes for renovation, travel and news sites. When he is not doing this, or renovating old houses, he finds the time to write novels.
Key Hiring Tips
Hiring a contractor is an important decision so it is best to get all the information you can on each company. This includes checking references, insurance and licensing information. On a larger project a designer or architect is required in order to get the permits. Smaller projects still require a plan and the job will turn out great with the a little organization.