Solar Water Heating: How It Works

July 06, 2011

We now have more options than ever when it comes to keeping comfortable.

Thankfully, today’s technology has allowed us to harness the power of a free, abundant and renewable energy source – the Sun. Using solar energy, heating your water has never been so environmentally friendly.

How Solar Water Heaters Work

Solar water heating systems include two main elements: the insulated water storage tank and the solar collectors. There are two kinds of solar water heating systems: active, which use pumps to circulate the heated water, and passive, which function without pumps.

In both systems, the solar collector is installed on the roof of your home where the Sun’s energy is absorbed. In active systems, pumps either circulate water through the collectors and back into the insulated tank where it is ready for use, or a non-freezing heat-transfer fluid is pumped through the collectors and a heat exchanger before going back into the tank and home. In passive systems, the collector is often placed below the storage tank so as the collector heats the water, the warm water will rise as the cooler water sinks in the tank. Both types usually require a backup method for cloudy days or when a large demand is suddenly placed on the system.

Choosing a System

When choosing a solar water heating system, you’ll need to consider your water use habits and lifestyle. For this rely on the experience of an expert to help you determine the appropriate capacity. You’ll want to be sure to select a unit that will be able to support your hot water use habits that not only include showering, but laundry, dishes, multiple bathrooms and more.

It can pay to do your research, so you’ll also want to consider available tax credits and rebates. Depending on the type and model you choose, different government incentives are still available including Federal tax rebates of 30% and local FPL (Florida Power & Light) utility rebates of $1,000 are available to area customers.

Be sure to select an installer who is experienced in solar water systems. Proper installation combined with regular maintenance can provide years of reliable performance.

Posted in: Buyer's Guide

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