I am sure that we would all like to have piping hot water in our home throughout the summer months without having to use our central heating boilers. This can now be done using Solar Hot Water Collectors that use the radiation from the sun to heat water. Solar panels that use photovoltaic cells are already well established. Solar panels that heat the water in your home come in two different types, evacuated tubes and flat plate collectors.
Both are fitted to the roof of your home and collect energy from the sun to heat water which is stored in your hot water cylinder.
Lets look at the factors to consider when deciding to install a Solar Water Heater system in your home.
• Is your home suitable?
• Do you have a sunny place to put your Solar Collectors?
• Do you have space on your roof?
• Do you have space for a larger water cylinder?
• Is your current boiler compatible with Solar Water heating?
• Do you need planning permission?
• How much will it cost?
• Savings – up to a third on your electricity bill.
Firstly most homes are suitable for installation of a solar hot water system, unless your boiler is a combination boiler and you do not have a water cylinder. The age of your boiler does not matter, I installed a system despite having a boiler that was more than 30 years old. (I have since updated to a modern condensing boiler). It is important that you have good exposure to the sun at the location of your home(not obstructed by tall buildings of trees). If you have a pitched roof and your home faces South, then one collector panel on the South facing slope will be sufficient. If your home faces East/West then you will need a collector on each slope.
As part of the solar water heater system a larger water cylinder is installed, and you will need to ensure that this will fit in the space allocated for your hot water cylinder. In the UK at least Planning permission is not required for the system. The cost if you use one of the Solar installer companies will be thousands of dollars, in the UK from £3,000 to £5,000. Prices have come down a bit as I paid over £6,000 almost four years ago. You do not have to pay these prices today!
The great advantage of the system is that you will save a thirds on your electricity bill, and you will have hot water all day long when the sun shines. When it is dull you can use your immersion heater in your cylinder as a backup to heat the water. I can honestly say that it was one of the best investments I have made in my home.
Today you can build your own system at home for less than $100.