Installing a solar hot water system can be one of the best things you can do for the environment and also your hard earned cash. If I could only advise on doing one thing to help you reduce your energy consumption, I would tell everyone to install a solar hot water system. For financial reasons you are more likely to save money by installing a solar hot water system guaranteed. There is a lot more to consider when installing a solar energy system.
There are a few types of solar hot water systems on the market place, and there is not a one size fits all solar hot water system. Spend the time to educate yourself so you can get the best system for your family’s needs. The 2 most common systems are a split system or a thermosiphon also known as a roof mounted system.
Everyone’s need and requirements are different and there are lots of different designed systems due to accommodate climate conditions and also poor water quality and everyone’s individual needs for hot water.
If considering going off grid for your energy needs installing a solar hot water system is a must. As heating water with electricity is a huge calculation to add to your solar energy system.
Depending on your climate will depend on what type of system you will want to install, if you live in a hotter climate a roof mounted system will be the most common, a milder climate you could get away with a roof mounted or a split system and a colder climate a split system is a must. Then you will have different types of collectors. There are 3 types of collectors, Flat plate evaporative tubes and then there another type of evaporative tube which is out of this world. I will keep this article to the two most commercially available units Click here for the out of this world unit.
Any solar system water or energy works on its ability to have the right angle of the sun, which is a 45 degree angle, depending on you latitude will depend on the angle you solar collectors will want to be mounted. Also depending on the time of year you would like your system to perform at its peak that will depend on the angle. Most systems are installed to give an overall performance.
Flat plate collectors are normally installed in hotter climates and the evaporative tubes are installed in colder climates. The evaporative tubes collect the suns angle at crazy angles all day long due to the round design which will allow it to pick up the desired angles and give a better performance in colder climates.
Roof mounted or thermosiphon systems are installed in hotter climates as the tank is fine to be exposed to the warmer ambient air temperatures. A split system is installed in colder climates as you capture the heat from the collector and store it in the split system tank which you would want installed if possible inside out of the effects of the colder temperatures of you environment, the warmer your storage tank can be kept the less you will rely on using electrical energy or gas to boost your hot water needs.
Depending on your access to gas or electricity is what you will use to boost your hot water temperatures.
An electrical boosted system will have a heating element in the tank and it is always a good idea to have control over when it comes on and off or have it on a timer. If it works on a thermostat it will want to keep the water temperature at the set temperatures all the time. This will waste energy and will cost you money. The set temperature can also waste energy as the hotter the set temperature the more energy it will be required to use to heat your water. It is a waste of energy to heat water up to 70-80 degrees and then add cold water to reduce it back down to 40-50 is what most of us find comfortable in the shower. For an experiment check the temp next time you have a shower. If you like hotter water washing up you will save energy by boiling the kettle or using the gas stove if you want hotter water to wash up. Most of us let the dishwasher wash up anyway which has a heating element in it anyway.
A gas Boosted system will have a gas booster separate to the storage tank and when the water leaves the tank it will go through the booster. If the water from the tank is not at the desired temperature set on your gas booster thermostat it will heat the water up to the desired temperature. For example if the water in the tank is only 40 degrees and you want it 45 the booster will heat it to that temperature and the higher the temperature from the tank the less boosting is required which will save you energy, and by saving energy used it will save you money.
Currently my personal system is a split system with a gas booster and we are installing a fire place with a wetback which will heat the water from our fire place in the colder months which will make our fireplace more energy efficient as we will be using the heat created to heat our home and our hot water, which means very rarely will we use the gas booster. It will come into play on the odd day that we have had little solar production and it’s just not cold enough to light a fire.
Thinking about designing your home to be self-reliant on energy will be the best way to save money in the long run, you will get creative on how to get more yields out of an energy source as for my example with the fire place it heats our home and our hot water and it has an oven compartment in it which we use to cook in, all from the same amount of energy we once used just to heat the home we are getting extra yields from that source of energy.
Planning and education is the key.