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Calculations for Solar Hot Water Systems

In order to design an effective
Renewable Energy hot water heating system for
Deepen your knowledge about the your solar water heating
energy sources of the future. system, you will need to
determine the size and
equipment and predict the
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Software programs can be obtained to calculate peak loads
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Several factors will impact

performance. The amount of sun available is one factor; the outdoor
temperature is another major factor. Here is a simple method of
calculations your needs.

The first step is to estimate daily hot water needs in gallons (Gallons)
and a nominal tank size (Tank Size). For two people, the average
needs are 40 to 50 gallons per day. Add 15 to 20 gallons for each
additional person or additional bedroom in the home to allow for family
expansion. Tank size should be large enough to hold slightly more than
the needs for one day. If you determine that 70 gallons per day should
provide for your need, select a 75 gallon tank.

GALLONS _________________

TANK SIZE ________________

Next, determine the temperature of the cold water that will supply
your solar water heating collector panel (ColdTemp). To do this, collect
water and use a thermometer to find the temperature on several
different occasions. Average the figures to create ColdTemp data.

ColdTemp _______________

Determine the energy needed (BTUNeed) to raise the water from

ColdTemp to desired temperature. 122 degrees F is average for
desired hot water temperature. If you need higher or desire lower
temperature, determine the temperature by using a thermometer to
check the temperature of hot water that you want.

To calculate BTUNeed, use the following formula:

BTUNeed = 8.34 X Gallons X (122 – Coldtemp) X Standby loss factor

If you do not use 122 for your desired water temperature, change the 8/23/2010
calculation for solar hot water systems Page 2 of 4

122 in the formula above to your own desired hot water temperature.

To add the standby loss factor, determine the insulation on the storage
tank you will use. If you have 1 inch foam or 2.5 inch fiberglass
insulation, use 1.20 for the standby loss factor. If you have 2 inch
foam insulation, use a factor of 1.12.

Next, you will need to determine the size of solar collector panel you
wish to build or purchase. First, determine the penalty factors that will
impact sizing. From the chart below, list your system factor.

System Factor Chart

Direct system with no heat exchanger 1.20

Indirect system with heat exchanger 1.30 between collector and

storage tank

Systems with SRCC system certification 1.00 and Q NET ratings

To determine tilt factor, you'll need to determine the pitch of your roof.
Most common are 20 to 30 degree pitch which has a tilt factor or 1.0.
A flat roof carries a tilt factor of 1.25, a 3 to 7 degree pitch carries a
factor of 1.15 while 7 to 12 degrees of pitch carries a factor of 1.09,
12 to 16 degrees carries a factor of 1.5. A roof pitch of 30 to 37
degrees carries a factor of 1.01, 37 to 43 degrees has a factor of 1.04.
A 43 to 50 degree roof pitch carries a factor of 1.12.

If you wish to determine an extremely exact tilt factor, you'll want a

site analysis performed by a solar energy professional. These numbers
are meant to give you an accurate estimate for do-it-yourself

Tilt Factor ________________

Orientation factor is determined by which way your solar collector will

face. A south or almost directly south facing collector carries a factor
of 1.0. Southeast or southwest orientation has a factor of 1.15, east or
west facing collectors have an orientation factor of 1.4.

Calculate your penalty factory using this data and the formula:

Penalty = System factor X Tilt Factor X Orientation Factor

Next think about how much of your hot water needs you wish to have
met by your solar hot water system. This will be the RateRequired. The
national average is 70%, but you can use a higher or lower number if
you choose.

RateRequired = BTUNeed X .70 (or percent your determine) X Penalty

The RateRequired figure will equal the BTU/day you will need. 8/23/2010
calculation for solar hot water systems Page 3 of 4

Next you need to determine what the efficiently of the solar collector
you wish to use will provide. This is very easy for a purchased solar
collector because there will be an FSEC label stating the BTU Rating
which is the BTU per day the collector is capable of delivering. If you
plan to build your own collector, locate similar collectors and use the
ratings from that panel.

BTURating _______________ is BTU per day from label or similar

collector label

Gross Area = ___________________ feet squared.

To determine how many solar collectors with the specifications you

entered above, calculate;

Number = RateRequired/BTURating rounded to the nearest whole


To learn the total area of your collectors:

TotalArea = Number of Collectors X Gross Area

TotalArea = ___________ feet squared

Now, calculate the solar fraction:

SolarFraction = % of need met which is average of .70 X Number of


SolarFraction = _______________

If the solar fraction is less than .65, your system is probably

undersized and you should consider adding another collector or using
more efficient collectors.

This information will help you

ensure that solar water heating Heating & Drying Systems
system you are considering will Mfr:Steam Boiler,Fluid Heaters,
meet most of your needs. If you Air/Water Generator,Burners etc
plan to have backup hot water
heating capability, 70% will
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represent a huge savings. Only
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About the Author: Anita van
Wyk strives to make make more
people aware of the benefits of
using solar energy through her
website 8/23/2010
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Heating & Drying Systems

Mfr:Steam Boiler,Fluid Heaters, Air/Water Generator,Burners etc

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