Solar Hot Water Installation Requirements Solar Hot Water Installation Requirements
There are a number of requirements for the installation of a solar hot water heater that go above and beyond a traditional water heater. Both types use a storage tank to store hot water, but whereas a traditional water heater tank features a heating element that heats up cold water in the tank powered by either electricity or natural gas, a solar hot water heater uses the sun’s energy to heat water for the home. The most basic requirement for the installation of a solar hot water heater is the solar panel. Without this vital piece of equipment, the entire system would be useless. In addition, a network of insulated pipes traveling from the cold water main to the storage tank and the solar collector and from the collector back to the tank is necessary, as well as a specially insulated storage tank. Beyond that, pumps and controls are required for active systems. The proper placement of the solar collector, and in some cases the tank itself, is also necessary.
Position of the Solar Collector
First and foremost, the solar collector should be installed on the south-facing area of your roof. This position ensures that it captures the most sunlight possible, whether it is the summer or winter. A solar panel doesn't need to be attached to the roof, however. If an area of your home other than the roof receives ample sunlight, there is nothing that says you cannot place it there. The point is to take in as much of the sun’s energy as possible.
Mounting on the roof requires secure brackets and mounting hardware designed to withstand high winds. Since holes will be made in the roof, the proper seals are required to keep water from leaking in or air from leaking out. The system of pipes may also travel through the roof, so those too must be sealed off.
Solar hot water systems feature a network of pipes that run from the cold water main to the solar collector. Once there, the water is channeled through via an S-shaped pipe or a series of parallel pipes, depending on the system. Once heated, the water is sent to the hot water tank for storage. The pipes used to channel the water from the solar collector to the tank must be insulated so they do lose any heat. There can be no broken seals or else a leakage of water or a loss of heat may occur. In addition, there may be a bypass valve installed that allows the cold water to run directly into a backup water heater in case the solar collection system fails. Pipes that run outdoors need to be insulated and have drain valves to let water escape and avoid freezing.
The storage tank must be well insulated in order to hold in the heat generated by the sun’s energy. Inside indirect system storage tanks there is usually a heat exchanger whereby the potable water is heated by transferring the heat from another liquid, usually water or refrigerant. This, however, will be pre-built into the storage tank. A second water heater tank is sometimes necessary to be used as a backup in case the solar collection system fails or cannot generate enough hot water.
Pumps and Controls
For active solar hot water systems, the water is moved to and from the solar collector by electrically powered pumps and often use automatic controls to do this. These features are a part of many active systems and are installed during the initial setup.
As you can see, there are several requirements for the setup of a solar hot water system that are not involved with traditional water heaters. There are different types of solar hot water systems, each of them with their own unique features. The requirements listed here are part of the general installation procedure for solar hot water units, although there will be slight differences depending on the system you use.