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How Does a Solar Hot Water Heater Work?

In recent years there have been nearly innumerable tools and home appliances that have been improved by making them more energy efficient. There’s a massive emphasis on making things more environmentally-friendly and less costly to run, which are both great in our books! Today we’re going to cover one of our favorites in the world of solar-powered appliances—solar water heaters.

What Are Solar Water Heaters?

The premise is fairly simple, and in fac it’s pretty much all in the name. Water heaters are responsible for supplying our homes with hot water for cooking, cleaning, showering, and more. And a solar hot water heater is simply powered by solar energy (the sun), helping to reduce electricity costs and reduce our carbon footprint.

How Does a Solar Water Heater Work?

In a solar water heater system a collection medium is connected with a type of tank or reservoir that in turn connects to a circulation system. In practice the whole thing comes together much like a traditional water heater system, with the difference primarily being the incorporated solar collection and use systems.

Solar Collection Types

How the system collects solar power is one of the biggest factors in how a solar water heater operates, and if you’re familiar at all with solar energy use these should seem a bit familiar:

  • Flate plate collectors. You’ve probably seen a flate-plate collector a time or two. These simple yet effective panels are made of a tempered and or reinforced glass that houses a solar collector.
  • Batch collectors. A batch system uses a couple of insulated black tanks to house heated water. Cold water is pulled through a pipe system that houses a solar collector. The collector heats water, and then the water is moved to the insulated reservoirs until it is needed.
  • Evacuated tubes. Often considered the most efficient method, evacuated tubes work very similarly to a thermos or good travel mug. These use vacuum principles to create a strong barrier against heat loss, helping retain as much heat as possible and thus provide much more reliable hot water.

The Basics of  Solar Water Heater Circulation

The first step in deciding on a circulation system is differentiating between active or passive circulation. An active system works by way of powered pumps that convey hot water from the collector to the tank reservoir, whereas a passive system will transfer usable hot water through the basic principles of convection.

Around here active circulation is far more commonly used, as it tends to be slightly more reliable and overall incorporates better into standard American homes. We also see closed-loop systems often enough, which are quite similar but are constructed to routinely circulate water from the tank to the solar collection system in order to retain more head.

Looking to learn more about solar water heaters, or want to know how you can get a new system? Contact Service Plus online today to speak to our water heater specialists!