Thanks to technology, inventions help make life easier for us. It all started with the solar calculator. From there, people discovered that the sun can be used for regeneration – just like how Superman re-charges by flying to the sun whenever he is weakened by kryptonite.
One of the latest inventions concerning solar energy is the solar pool heater. Pushing the envelope further, solar home heating can also be done. This was basically inspired by the experience of getting burnt once your skin gets in contact with water (primarily from hose) that has been sitting out on the sun for too long. This is called passive solar water heating.
Before the beginning of the 21st century, states like Los Angeles and Florida have already taken advantage of passive solar hot water systems. There were a number of sytems using solar water heating that are located in the mentioned states’ roof tops.
Nowadays, the solar water heater is referred to as PSWH, Bread Box and Batch Heater. However, the technical term for this contraption is the Integrated Collector and Storage System or ICS for short.
Usually starting with 40 gallons of water in a lined tank made of glass, these systems come in the form of electric water heaters. With its temperature engine, the owner must only set it under the sun and it’s good to go. It is also painted black because studies show that dark colors attract heat more than light colors.
Make sure that the box had been well insulated in order to prevent the loss of energy. Also, the insulation amount is dependent on the climate. Ideally, the box has the measurements of either 2 X 4s or 2 X6s. Fiberglass insulation is also often installed. For aesthetic purposes, the owner may choose to have his box painted in such a way that would match it to the area where it is placed.
The size of the box must be large enough for the tank. It must also be big enough to get as much sun as it possibly can. If the glass capability is 1 sq ft. 2 ½ gallons is the ideal amount of water in it.
Both having an inlet and an outlet, the method on how you attach these makes the difference. Plumbing wise, the cold water inlet comes with a tube extending underneath the tank. The purpose is to bring the cold water to its designated area. Whereas the hot water outlet’s responsible to take the hottest water to the top of the tank.
If the system were to be installed on a roof, then it must be attached spread wide over the rafters which could later on be obstacles for the whole heating process. Make sure that your system gets sunshine in the morning and in the afternoon. Because if not, it only defeats the entire process of getting one.
In general, shorter plumbing is more efficient because it lessens the potential of freezing. The possibility of freezing 49 gallons of liquid is much less compared to longer plumbings. If the tank is installed next to the water heater, then the freezing potential is lessened but not entirely eradicated.
The plumbing between the PSWH and the water heater are both insulated and this is exposed on the exterior pipes. Therefore, it is best that you insulate your plumbing in the attic areas.
Here are the steps in installing your solar home water heater:
1. Supply cold water to the tank. The hot water outlet is already installed to the cold water inlet. The process involves the solar water getting into the water heater and on a level above the thermostat setting.
2. If you’re wondering which temperature to set your PSWH at, it really depends on a lot of factors: the ambiance of the air, the amount of sunshine obtained by the system, the usage of insulation, the supply water’s temperature and finally the demand of the hot water – both through the inlet and the outlet.
Ideally speaking, the water temperature can go beyond 180 degrees F. install a tempering valve. In that way, you will be able to control the temperature before it seeps through the faucet.
3. The demand of hot water depends on other attributes that can be answered by considering these questions. Are there shower aerators that are low-flowing? Is there a water heater blanket? Is the thermostat set at 120 degrees F? Do you use hot water often?
Just like any invention, the solar water home heater is a treat having in your household, just as long as you know how to properly use it.