Replace Your Old Water Heater System with Solar Powered Heaters for Sustainability

July 18, 2019

According to some of the more reliable home statistics gatherers, a fully operational water heater system eats masses of electrical energy. Only air conditioners consume more. Think about how badly an old water heater system would then perform. On second thoughts, don’t dwell on such things; the energy lost by that ailing equipment is just too painful to contemplate. Turn instead towards sustainable solar-powered water heating, where energy losses melt away.

A Sustainable Source of Hot Water

Power from the sun is right there for the taking. That’s good for the environment, for there are no fossil fuels or planetary resources to burn through, not when the heat is flying through space. Radiating through Earth’s atmosphere, the ground soaks up the energy, then it dissipates. Solar energy collectors simply take advantage of this naturally occurring effect. Only, instead of dissipating into the ground or the oceans, the heat is collected by a flat-plate collector. Below that plate, that’s where the energy converting process takes place.

Hooking Up Solar Collectors to Existing Water Heaters

Good for a homeowners wallet, the system installs as new on a structure’s rooftop. Installed, the flat-plate collectors contain a network of pipes, which carry water or a heat-absorbing fluid. For that latter system, a heat exchanger transports the solar energy to the hot water side of the pipe network. Alternatively, evacuated tubes, which are vacuum-sealed, make a more efficient job of absorbing the freely available thermal energy. At any rate, no matter the collector architecture, this piped flow is redirected towards a home’s existing hot water supply. Here’s where the main problem rears its ugly head. Does the existing water heater tank have a second spout? Many solar-capable water heater tanks incorporate this feature, so do look for this porting. Alternatively, a conversion kit can be used to hook the cold input line into the new upward rising pipes. The following issues could also cause problems:

  • Sizing the hot water pump
  • Light construction work
  • Installation of new pressure relief valves
  • Addition of the differential temperature sensor

Looking closely at that short list of installation obstacles, the problems are easily resolved by an expert installation team. Since the water is heading up to the roof, more pumping “head” may be required. Protecting all of this retrofitted gear, there’s a new pressure relief valve to install. Likewise, temperature differentials are picked up by a sensor. One more thing, system antifreeze is necessary if the equipment is expected to function in a cold climate. Still, this is all a small price to pay for a sustainable, freely accessible water heating system.

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