Different Types of Solar Water Heater Systems

November 15, 2018

When it comes to heating up your water, a water heater does take up a good amount of your home’s energy use. It is something that is nearly constant, we use hot water for laundry, washing dishes, showers and more. This can really add up in a year. The average electric water heater can average around $500 each year to run. A heater that uses natural gas can cost about $400 a year.

A Solar Water Heater is a Greener Option

There are several different green options for heating your water with solar being the greenest way to heat up your water. Most often a solar water heater will typically be used along with a traditional heater because the weather can affect the production of solar heating production. The traditional one will supplement the solar heater when it’s needed.

When you add a solar water heater to your home, you will be able to reduce your energy bills and CO2 emissions by at least 50%, which is another great benefit of using this type of heater.

Very Clean Energy Source

When it comes to a solar water heater you’ll be using an extremely efficient and clean energy source. The fuel being sunlight means that it’s limitless, free, and it emits nothing when it’s converted into energy. Even though a solar photovoltaic type of technology can be less efficient at converting the sun into electricity than a wind turbine it’s still much better to use than more traditional means of power when it comes to providing power for lights or stereos for example, however the sun used for a water heater only needs heat to warm the water and turning the sun into heat is quite easy.

Main Purpose of a Solar Heating System

At the core of it, a solar water heater does one main thing, and that is it uses the sun to warm water. The important thing is that a solar water heating system needs to work fast and this means can be complicated in order to work quickly.

Main Component of a Solar Heater

The main component of a solar water heating system is what is known as the solar collector and a storage tank. The solar collector is a glazed and insulated box with an interior that is dark colored and includes a bunch of tubes or passages for the water to flow through. This solar collector is what turns the sun’s radiation into heat. The storage tank is exactly what it sounds like, it’s what holds the water.

That is the simple setup and there are some systems that really aren’t much more complicated than that. There are a few distinctions from one solar heater to another. One is whether it’s passive or active. The active heater will use electrical pumps and controls that help to move the water around. The passive type will use only the forces of nature to get the job done. The passive is the simpler of the two types of heaters.

Two Types of Passive Systems

There are two different kinds of passive solar water heaters that one can choose from:

Batch – This type is an uncomplicated type. It is about as simple as it can get. This type is one that has one or more water tanks that are inside of a solar collector. The water will warm up right inside of the tank and either the gravity or natural convection, the tendency for hot water to rise, will move the water from the tank to the pipes in a home.

Thermosiphon – This type has the water tank separate from the solar collector. The cold water will move through tubes of the solar collector and a natural convection pump will pump the hot water into a storage tank. The water will then move from the tank to the water pipes of the home.

Three Types of Active Systems

When it comes to active systems, there are three different types:

Direct – With this type, the water moves through solar collectors and then into a storage tank with the help of controls and electrical pumps.

Indirect– Instead of heating the water, the solar collector will heat what’s known as a heat transfer fluid, antifreeze would be an example. Antifreeze will flow into a sealed piping system of the heat exchanger that’s surrounded by water. The water will then pick up the heat from the antifreeze and then will be pumped into the storage tank.

Drainback – The drainback system is like indirect except that it uses distilled water for the heat transfer liquid and it has its own separate drainback tank for the distilled water. It pumps all of the heat transfer liquid out of the heating system and then into an interior tank is an ideal solar heater system for areas that suffer from colder weather.

Higher Cost in the Beginning

Whether it’s a passive or active system, a solar water heating system is going to cost you more than a gas or electric style. However, once you start using a solar system, the money you save each year on your power bill will quickly pay for the system.

If you are interested in finding out more about this type of water heating system and what type would be best for your home, please feel free to contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you make your decision.