How Do Solar Hot Water Heaters Work?

What you need to know about this alternative water-heating option

With the rising cost of fuel and concern over carbon footprints, many homeowners are turning to green technologies such as a solar water heater. These hot water heating systems not only lower your fuel costs over the lifetime of the system but will also help the environment by cutting back on harmful carbon emissions. Developing a set of workable solar hot water heater plans could be your first important step toward leading a “greener” lifestyle.

Basics

The U.S. Department of Energy provides a complete breakdown of the basics of solar hot water heater systems. As they explain, there are basically two types of solar hot water heaters: active systems, which contain circulating pumps and controls, or the passive systems, which don’t. Both of these plans will require solar panel collectors and storage tanks for the water.

The solar storage tanks will need to be well-insulated to lock in the heat and keep out the cold. You could opt for a two-tank storage, where your system would preheat the water before it enters your conventional water heater. Or you could decide on the single-tank storage option, which combines the back-up heater with solar storage within the same tank.

Collecting the sun for your system

One of the great benefits of solar hot water heaters is that their fuel supply is unlimited. Even in cloudy weather, there will still be enough stored energy to keep your system operating at peak efficiency. The three basic types of solar collectors are flat plate collectors, integral collector-storage systems or evacuated-tube solar collectors.

How solar hot water heaters work

As the rays of the sun strike the collectors, they are converted into heat waves. The same type of principle applies to the heat that is trapped in a windowless room or the heat in a car with the windows rolled up. That heat energy is then transferred to the water storage tanks ,where it heats the water until is it called upon for use. You can break it down like this: Rays from the sun shine on the panel collectors that subsequently transfer that heat to the water storage tank.

Solar hot water systems pay for themselves

Every solar hot water plan will mean integration with your own system. Experienced installers can provide you with all the cost options. Fortunately, as your energy bills are reduced, you’ll be able to see how your initial installation costs will begin to save you money.

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