Solar water heating (also known as solar thermal) is a somewhat recent phenomenon that allows you to supply your home with solar hot water. This means that you can get all of your hot water using the energy of the sun as opposed to paying for energy costs from traditional methods just as gas and oil. It is a relatively straightforward process.
The solar collector absorbs the heat from the sun and is then used to heat water that is stored in a hot water cylinder. While this method does depend on having sunshine, during the darker winter months you can use this system alongside a traditional boiler. There are a few different options available to you to choose from when it comes to solar water heating.
Many people install these systems in their own houses themselves as a DIY project. Here is some advice on how to choose the best solar water heating system for your needs as well as advice on how to effectively prepare for the installation process.
Choosing a system
One of the most important factors you need to consider is the climate in your area. If you live in a snowy region, where the temperatures often reach freezing point, you will need a closed-loop system.
These systems circulate a particular solution (such as antifreeze) through an individual loop between the storage tank and the solar collectors. Then the heat exchanger will move this solar generated heat into the domestic water system. This helps to prevent your pipes form freezing as well as ensuring that no energy is lost in the transportation process.
If you live in a warmer climate, you will be better suited to an open-loop system that will pump water throughout the whole area of piping and the collectors.
Choosing collectors that are composed of flat plates are normally more cost-effective than the evacuated tube alternatives. The glass that is low tempered is extremely durable and provides a decent level of sunlight transmission.
Preparing for installation
While no two systems will have the exact same installation process, there are many similarities when it comes to preparing your house for the installation. You should comprehensively map out the plumbing route in your house, factoring in how you are going to run the new feed line into your pre-existing hot water tank to the new system.
You want to choose a route that is easy to install at the same time as minimising heat loss. This is achieved by making the route as short as possible. You need to pressure test the connections and check that the pipes are properly insulated. This will help to further minimise heat loss.