Solar Hot Water Systems Explained
Lots of homeowners know the benefits of solar hot water systems, but most people have no understanding of the ins and outs. For those who want to become environmentally-friendly and protect the planet, these systems could assist in helping you to achieve that goal. Just take a moment to read through the information below to ensure you grasp the concept and all the benefits.
You can then make an informed decision on whether or not a solar hot water system is suitable for your property. Don’t panic if you decide these devices aren’t for you as there are plenty of other options that we can also help with such as Gas or Electric. However, for most homeowners, going green with solar solutions is a fantastic move.
So, how does solar hot water work?
Solar hot water systems will help your family to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and they should also help you to save a lot of energy in the home. Most solutions use two different types of collectors for solar hot water. They are called flat plate collectors, and evacuated tubes. The former is suitable when you need to mount a tank on the roof of your property, and the latter is an excellent choice for frost prone locations. Out of the two collectors, the evacuated tubes offer improved efficiency.
How do flat plate collectors work?
With this type of collector, the device uses copper pipes connected to a storage tank on the roof of your home. As the sun starts beating down, the rays heat the copper
pipes and warm the water inside the storage tank. You can then access the water from your taps and benefit from the heat without having to use vast quantities of electricity and gas like you would with traditional solutions.
More affordable than evacuated tubes
Flat plate collectors are less expensive to purchase compared to the alternative because they use cheaper materials and construction methods. That said, the price difference between the two options decreases every single year, and so it’s always sensible to consider both solutions before making your decision.
Simple to install and use
Flat plate collectors use a single absorber sheet placed between glass and a layer of insulation. The design is about as simple as it can be, and installing the device shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours for most professionals.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out where these devices get their name. Flat plate collectors have a shallow profile, and that means they’re often unnoticeable from the street, and there is no need to stress about wind resistance.
Easy to maintain
When it comes to maintaining and repairing flat plate collectors, the task is straightforward in most instances. As there aren’t many different parts to replace; ensuring the device remains in tip-top condition is child’s play.
Wider and bulkier than the alternative
As mentioned a moment ago, flat plate collectors have a low profile, but they’re still wider and bulkier than evacuated tubes. That is because the constructs cover a broad surface area, and installation experts often have to use an elevator to get the solar heating solution into place.
Not suitable for freezing temperatures
Flat plate collectors tend to lose heat faster than evacuated tubes when exposed to low temperatures for extended periods. That means the items are not suitable for homeowners who live in areas where there are lots of clouds and a lack of sunlight for many months each year.
Requires more roof space
Flat plate collectors can produce the same amount of heat as evacuated tubes. However, they require more roof space, and so some people might consider the latter options based on their requirements. Of course, that isn’t too much of an issue if you don’t already have lots of solar panels on those tiles.
Doesn’t respond well to windy conditions
Windy conditions can cause many problems for flat plate collectors. As cold air flows over the device, the wind can remove some of the heat from the collector. That means your water will not reach suitable temperatures.
How do evacuated tubes work?
The system uses two fused glass tubes to form a vacuum, and then a copper pipe running through the centre gets connected to a slow flow circulation pump. That pump then pushes water to a storage tank located below.
Due to the insulation of the tank, evacuated tubes will provide hot water during both the daytime and the nighttime. Unlike flat plate collectors, evacuated tubes do not require sunlight to function correctly. That means they are often the solution of choice for many homeowners in Australia and beyond. The tubes can extract heat from humid air, and that increases their performance when the sun is not in the best position.
Handles wind better than the alternative
Evacuated tube collectors outperform flat plate collectors in windy conditions. While the flat solution will lose heat, evacuated tube solutions provide better insulation, and so that should never happen.
Lots of people want to save space on their roof for other solar devices that power their homes. Evacuated tube collectors have a smaller footprint when compared to the alternative, and so they’re the best option for those who worry about the amount of weight on their roofs at the moment.
More expensive than flat plate collectors
As discussed a moment ago, the price difference between flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors decreases all the time. However, you can’t ignore the fact that the latter solution is still more expensive.
Heavier than the former option
Most homeowners shouldn’t have to worry too much about the weight of the items they place on their roofs. Still, that can become a concern for some people with old houses or lots of other devices up there.
More breakable and fragile
If you’re looking for something that is going to stand the test of time; you might want to think twice about evacuated tube collectors. Compared to the alternative, they are more fragile and tend to require more frequent repairs.
Longer installation period
While it’s easy to lift an evacuated tube collector onto your roof, it also takes a long time to install due to the many different parts. Every vacuum tube has to go into place separately, and that means someone is going to spend quite a few hours on the roof.
So, which solution is the most efficient?
There is no getting away from the fact that evacuates tubes are the best option for most households. Not only is that solution more efficient when compared to flat plate collectors, but it’s also durable and cheaper to repair. So, people who select those items will have to spend more cash initially, but their investment should pay for itself within a couple of years. If you have any concerns about the best solution for your property, it makes sense to get in touch with professionals to discuss the ins and outs. That way, you can be sure to make the right decision and protect the planet using the best methods possible.
What about electric and gas boosters?
Solar hot water systems are excellent tools for reducing your energy consumption and providing your home with warm water all year round. However, sometimes they can under perform if your area goes through extended periods of adverse weather conditions. Cloudy and cold days can prove problematic, and so you might want to give the system a helping hand with electric and gas boosters. That shouldn’t happen too often, but it’s vital that you have a backup in place if you don’t want to encounter issues.
The most efficient method of boosting your hot water is to install a tankless gas heater. That is because the boost will only happen when you use the taps. So, you won’t waste energy heating a tank that is already filled with hot water. If you decide to install an electric booster, the device will kick-in whenever the temperature inside your tank drops below a certain level. Both methods work well, but those who want to limit their energy consumption should always opt for the gas device.
Well, how much energy can I save?
Research shows that traditional hot water systems account for around 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the average home today. By selecting a solar alternative, you can reduce those emissions and also save approximately 75% of your monthly water heating expenses. For the best outcomes, you should think about getting a gas-boosted solar water heater for your home. As we explained in the last section, that solution will mean boosting doesn’t happen until you use water from the system. So, it uses significantly less energy than the electric alternative that raises your water temperature whenever it drops too low.
Now you know more about solar hot water systems; you should manage to make the right decisions when improving your home this year. Regardless of which option you select; you will reduce your household’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Contact us TODAY to get started (or just give us a call if you have further questions).