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Hot Water From The Sun

Last Updated Apr 29, 2013 · Written by Craig Gibson

With water heating accounting for some 25% of an average household’s energy usage, it makes sense to consider the alternatives to the conventional electric storage water heater, which are not especially energy efficient. Solar water heaters are a simple concept that work on the principle of radiant solar heat transferring to an exposed roof mounted panel.  They therefore reduce your reliance on electricity as the radiant energy of the sun provides the primary heat source. Besides reducing costs you can also cut down on the greenhouse gases emitted by your household, which can help to minimise your carbon footprint.

Types of Solar Hot Water Systems

There are two primary types of solar hot water systems, both of which work on very similar principles, though with slightly different configurations:

  • Collector panels with storage cylinder – in this system the collector panels, typically large glass enclosed roof mounted units, have water circulating through them. As the water is heated in the panel it is forced up into the storage cylinder, where it displaces cool water back into the panel. This cycle is then repeated
  • Split systems – the split system has a number of roof mounted collector panels, with the cylinder mounted at ground level.  Once the water in the collector panels is heated it is forced down into the storage cylinder, where an electric circulator pump pushes more cool water to the roof mounted panels for heating.

Most solar systems have an electric or gas booster system which ensures that you will have access to hot water on overcast days or at night – with a temperature regulated sensor that activates when a set temperature is reached.

Benefits of Solar Hot Water

So why should you consider solar hot water for your home?

  • Savings can be between 50% – 85% on a conventional water heater
  • Rebates – a range of Federal, State and Local government rebates may apply, which can help to mitigate the initial costs of purchase and installation
  • Ceramic lined tanks now mean longer life storage cylinders
  • Heat pump hot water heaters are an alternative to panels on the roof, and while not as efficient they do offer improved savings on conventional electric hot water systems

Find a solar hot water plumber near you and get advice on the best option for your home.

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