Why invest in a solar water heater, even during winter

A roof-mounted solar water heater

Solar energy gets a bad reputation across the board for various uses. Since sunlight isn’t available 24/7, or even during the day at times due to cloud cover, the general public finds the energy form to be highly unreliable. We’ll be looking at how this is a widespread misconception that people ought to forget, using the solar water heater as the main point of reference.

A solar water heater during winter

Let’s challenge one of the biggest myths, that a solar water heater is not efficient during the colder months. These heating options have been effective in the dead of winter, from New York to the Arctic Circle. In New York, for instance, a device can easily provide water at temperatures of 80°C even if it’s -15°C outside.

Several key attributes of these setups allow them to be effective in the winter. In a simple model, a solar water heater has a collector on the roof, which is basically the panel. In flat-plate collectors, water pipes travel through a metal box coated with glass, trapping the sun’s heat and creating a miniature greenhouse effect.

A more sophisticated collector uses evacuated tubes that work like vacuum flasks. These tubes are able to trap the sun’s heat energy, which then flows into a collecting device. Afterwards, water flows through this device and becomes warmer as it flows into the storage tank.

In this latter model, the vacuumed spaces and the absorber’s coating prevent conduction and convection of energy, protecting the energy loss from the outside temperatures during winter while still trapping the sun’s heat coming in.

Other systems make use of anti-freeze compounds to do a similar job so that there’s no way any liquid flowing through the pipes will turn solid.

Some problems to consider

It’s best to remember that unlike a solar panel system, a solar water heater can only be used for one purpose, which is making the water warmer. The former system can be used to power an array of electronics and appliances in your home, so if you’re looking for a more versatile model, that would be much better.

For a solar water heater, the efficiency can vary depending on weather, demand, and your household’s general consumption habits. Most residences start off badly from the installation itself, ignoring proper insulation for the pipes.

By following the tips below, though, you can improve the overall efficiency of your model and produce up to 90% of your house’s hot water requirements.

Tips to make the most out of your solar water heater

  1. Make sure the water pipes are adequately insulated, especially the ones that connect the tanks to the panels. Ideally, they need to have insulation of at least 15mm thickness. Failing to do this can result in around 50% of the energy being lost.
  2. Going with a larger set of panels or tanks is always better, especially since hot water in tanks can retain heat for long periods of time. So the more water you hold, the more warm baths and showers you can have.
  3. There will definitely be periods during which your solar water heater will be ineffective. This is why it might need occasional help from either gas or electricity with the help of a booster switch. Turn it off if there’s plenty of sunshine and turn it on if the clouds rule the skies.
  4. Your household will need to evaluate its water consumption habits, making changes to ensure that warm water is used during the day if possible and less so at night. Adding in a booster should help smooth things over as well so that you use it in the evening to ensure that your morning shower isn’t ice cold.

Where do you start?

With some of the more common misconceptions erased, you might be looking at these options with more of an open mind. If you’re planning to invest in a solar water heater, we at Earthsave have both roof-mounted and ground-mounted models for you to consider.

There’s no reason these systems won’t be able to accommodate the perfect shower on a cold winter morning, especially with common sense practices on your part.

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