What is a solar water heater, and how it works?
The solar water heater harnesses the sun’s energy to be used in heating water. Of course, people use this variation of a water heater since it is environmentally friendly and helps them save on their electricity bill.
Solar water heaters work differently depending on how they are designed. For some, water is passed through the collectors, which have a tubular design. The collectors, in turn, absorb solar energy and use it to heat the water passing through.
For others, the collector and the water does not come into contact with each other. Instead, anti-freeze liquid picks up the heat from the collector, transfers it to a tank where the heat exchanger component then transfers the heat to the stored water.
It is important to note that there is separation between the hot and the cold water in most of the solar water tanks.
Benefits of solar water heaters
If you are contemplating solar water heaters in comparison to other types of water heaters, you are going to want to know the benefits that come from such a system. One of the most obvious ones is the lower carbon footprint. Remember, the use of solar doesn’t produce fumes, and that reduces the negative impact you have on the environment. Most other water heaters may use energy that comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
Solar water heaters can as well help save some money. It is no secret that water heaters use a lot of energy. When you use electricity or gas to heat your water, you end up paying some relatively high utility bills.
In contrast, solar water systems are a one-time cost that involves the purchase and installation of the machine. After that, it is free. While it can be expensive in the beginning, it is bound to save you a lot of money in the long run.
Another benefit is the low maintenance of the system. Some of these solar water heaters will last years after installation before needing any form of maintenance. However, checking often prevents the build-up of problems to the point of no return.
If selling your home is part of a long term plan, you may also want a solar water heater. It adds tremendous resale value, thereby raising your home’s price to something more desirable.
When compared to other types of solar devices, the collectors on solar water heaters convert more than 80% of the sun’s radiation into heat for your water. You may also come across some tax incentives that encourage you to buy these devices.
Things to consider before buying a solar water heater
In your search for a solar water heater, you may realize that each option is made for a different market. As such, making sure you understand the niche you are in will help you narrow down your choices much quicker. For you to do this, you may need to do some research on your lifestyle. Things like where you live may matter more than you think. In addition to your location, we have listed a few of the things you need to consider before you enter your payment details on Amazon.
Where you live does affect the solar water heater you purchase. For some of the devices mentioned above, people are advised to go with the galvanized steel option since it handles seawater better than other finishes. This is apparent in the Duda Solar 300 Liter SUS304 Passive Water Heater. Nevertheless, there are other options as well that work for other climatic regions.
You may as well be in an area that experiences lots of cloud cover day in day out. In such areas, you may have to look for the most efficient collectors to make sure you get the most out of the little sunlight that you get. Remember, you might have to position your device according to your location as well. This applies mostly to the collector. This requires planning even before you start looking at your available options.
The amount of water you need
Most people use solar water heaters to raise the temperature of the water they use to shower. As such, purchasing such a device requires you to find out how much water you need for the exercise. It makes no sense for a family of five to buy a machine that caters to three people. The rest may have to shower with cold water, hence why you should be deliberate with the capacity you choose.
How green you are
Some people want to do as much as they can to reduce their carbon footprint on the environment. As such, they might need a solar water heater that caters to all their heating needs at all times. However, others may be willing to let the electrical power in the house handle some of the heating.
Remember that some of these devices can be used in conjunction with electricity, while others can’t. If you are looking to do the most you can for the environment, the independent solar water heater is what you should be looking for.
The pressure system in your house
Water pressure also varies from household to household. This makes it necessary for you to be aware of the pressure in yours before committing to a purchase. That way, you ensure compatibility between the water pressure and the device that you bring home. Nevertheless, some plumbing accessories may help you regulate the water pressure coming into your home.
Do you need to heat a swimming pool?
While most people need hot water for showering and use inside the house, some need it for their swimming pools. However, unlike solar water heaters for indoor home use, the effect of such a device on a pool is often minimal. It can even be less than 10°F.
Nevertheless, you do have to remember that while people do want warmer water in their swimming pools, they don’t want it to reach boiling levels. After all, hot water can lead to burns, and unlike inside the house, there is no cold water to regulate the temperatures.
That being said, it isn’t necessary for you to heat a swimming pool. You can swim in cold water if you like. However, heating the water a bit makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.
Most people have limitations as to the amount of money they can spend on a solar water heater. If you don’t have such constraints, you may be one of the lucky few who has limitless options. However, if you belong to the other section of the population, you have to purchase a solar water heater that you can afford. The prices also vary from hundreds of dollars into the thousands.
Features to consider before buying a solar water heater
Even if they save you money in the long run, the initial purchase of a solar water heater can be expensive. As such, you don’t want to get it wrong as that will have you spending more money with little satisfaction in the product you receive. Instead, you can look at a list of features beforehand and make your decision based on that. This is in addition to customer reviews, price, and perceived benefits.
However, if you know nothing about solar water heaters in general, you will look at the stated features and not know what they mean. This can be detrimental to your purchase process; hence you should take up the challenge to educate yourself on said features. With a list of the same as well as all that you need to know about certain solar water heater features given below, all you have to do is keep reading.
It is quite likely that the Duda Solar 300 Liter SUS304 Passive Water Heater can service the needs of a large family. This is because the 300-liter capacity is quite large. Compare that with the Sunbank Solar 40 Gallon, which may not be able to handle the needs of a five-person family, and you can see the difference. Nevertheless, some households don’t have as many people. The key to navigating the purchase in this area is making sure that you have enough capacity to cater to all the people in the house.
The same is the case for pool solar water heaters. You will notice that these devices have limits as to the size of the pool that they can service. However, for some of these heaters, you have the option of combining two or more to boost the capacity.
Also, the types of solar water heaters you may encounter in your search for the ideal system are quite numerous. Among them are the following.
Active direct solar water heaters: This is one of the more common types that you will encounter. Water flows from the house into the collectors, where it is heated and pushed back into the house. In warm climates, this is one of the preferred systems.
Active indirect water solar water heaters: These are also relatively common. The Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater is an ideal example of this type of heater. You will notice all of them have some sort of fluid that picks up the heat from the collector and transfers it to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger then transfers the heat to water in the tank.
The glycol fluid flows through the collector into the tank and back. Since the water containment is positioned away from the collector, this system is ideal for cold climates. Often it is stored inside the house, and that helps with heat retention in the water.
Passive thermosiphon water heaters: These systems are all the same in that the heater is installed below a storage tank. When the water is heated, it slowly rises to the top of the tank leaving the cool water below to be heated as well.
Flat-Plate glazed solar water heaters: One of the unique design features of these devices is that they incorporate copper tubing that is placed on a metal plate. Also, they come with glass coverings and are similar to active indirect systems in that they use transfer fluid and a heat exchanger. In an ideal situation, they are installed to heat pool water in areas with cold climates.
Panel systems: If you want a portable solar water heater, you should look into panel systems. They heat relatively small amounts of water while it is in a stagnant position.
Passive integral collector-storage water heaters: Their construction mostly involves the use of metal plates that heat water in small amounts. The water, of course, has to go through the solar water heater before it is returned to a storage tank. If you only need hot water during the day and live in hot climatic conditions, this may be the system for you.
Flat plate unglazed water heaters: These are similar in construction to the flat-plate glazed heaters in a lot of ways. Nevertheless, they don’t feature a glass enclosure. Instead, they incorporate heavy-duty rubber and an open design. They as well are meant for pool use.
The tube setting will vary from model to model as well. This in terms of how many tubes you get as well as the construction of the tubes. Some options like the Northern Lights Group 30 Tube Solar Water Heater Collector are optimized for maximum energy absorption.
However, you also have to realize that some options don’t even have such tubes. They use a different methodology to heat the water.
Consequently, you need to be keen to note the type of tubing, its benefits, whether spares are included, and any other benefits that may be provided.
Solar water heaters are among a list of long-term investments that you may have to make for your home. As such, you hope that they will last a long time after purchase, thereby allowing you to recoup the purchase price and save you even more money. Some of these devices offer information on how long they are expected to last. An impressive option is the Northern Lights Group 30 Tube Solar Water Heater Collector, which is expected to last 20+ years.
Ease of use
Another thing you should want from your purchase is that it won’t be too difficult to use. This makes your whole experience with the product better since you don’t have to struggle to regulate temperature and change settings.
A lot of you will want a solar water heater for your home. In this case, it doesn’t have to be portable, as most homes are permanent. However, some of you may want something to take with you on camping trips. Bulky devices will be impossible to fit in your car, and you won’t be able to lift them. In such a scenario having a solar water heater like the PGYFIS Solar Shower Bag could be extremely beneficial.
Encountering unique extra features is something you should expect in your shopping process for a solar water heating system. Some are meant to help you in the installation process with the example of the adjustable legs in the GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater. Some features are as well meant to make the device more comfortable to use. If you encounter them and you feel they add sufficient value to the purchase, you can add them to the reasons why you should purchase a specific solar water heater.