Where To Install Your Solar Hot Water Panel Where To Install Your Solar Hot Water Panel

The correct installation of solar hot water panels is an important factor in the overall design scheme of a solar hot water system. The panel itself is what captures the solar energy in order to transform it into heat energy and in turn heat the water for the home. If it is installed at an improper angle or direction relative to the sun, it will ensure the whole system is highly inefficient. Depending on the system your home uses, the solar hot water panel will most likely be mounted to the roof, but this is by no means a requirement. Thermosyphon systems, for example, require that the storage tank is situated above the solar panel. If you are building such a system from scratch, it may be easier to place the solar panel elsewhere.

How a Solar Hot Water Panel Works

The basic operation of a solar hot water panel is quite straightforward. The panel is angled towards the sun and takes in solar radiation during the day. In active systems, a photo resister senses when there is sunlight and automatically turns on the pump which moves cold water into the series of tubes contained within the panel.

The energy captured from the sun is then used to preheat the water in the solar collector at the same time. The heated water is then pumped back through insulated pipes into the storage tank where it can be used as hot water.

Installation for Maximal Solar Input

In order to maximize the use of the sun’s energy, the solar panel must be installed at an angle where it will catch the most sun. For this it must be facing south. During the summertime when the sun appears higher in the sky, the solar panel should be at angle that exposes its face to the sun.

Depending on the roof pitch, the angle may already be optimal. In the wintertime, because the sun appears lower in the sky, the panel might need to be propped up a bit to take in the most sunlight. Therefore, an adjustable solar panel would be ideal in order to accommodate the changing angle of the sun’s rays.

Thermosyphon Systems

Thermosyphon solar hot water systems are passive. That means they do not use electric pumps and controls to move water up into the solar collector. Instead, they rely on the physical properties of heated water. When heated, water becomes less dense which makes it rise. With this type of system the solar panel must be located below the storage tank.

Cold water is preheated in the solar collector and then rises through the pipe into the insulated tank. There are no controls, pumps or electrical components required. Not every roof type will work with this type of system, though. The tank must be positioned above the solar panel so the hot water can rise into it. For this reason, homemade thermosyphon systems sometimes place the solar panel at ground level. As long as it absorbs the maximum amount of sunlight it will work.

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