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Solar water heating is a reliable and renewable energy technology used to heat water. Sunlight strikes and heats an "absorber" surface within a "solar collector" or an actual storage tank. Either a heat-transfer fluid or the actual potable water to be used flows through tubes attached to the absorber and picks up the heat from it. (Systems with a separate heat-transferfluid loop include a heat exchanger that then heats the potable water.) The heated water is stored in a separate preheat tank or a conventional water heater tank until needed. If additional heat is needed, it is provided by electricity or fossil-fuel energy by the conventional water-heating system. Although solar water heating systems all use the same basic method for capturing and transferring solar energy, they do so with three specific technologies that distinguish different collectors and systems. The distinctions are important because different water heating needs in various locations are best served by certain types of collectors and systems.
COMPONENTS OF A SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEM
1. SOLAR COLLECTORS—Solar collector efficiency is plotted as a straight line against the parameter (Tc-Ta)/I, where Tc is the collector inlet temperature (C ), Ta is the ambient air temperature (C ), and I is the intensity of the solar radiation (W/m²). Notice that inexpensive, unglazed collectors are very efficient at low ambient temperatures, but efficiency drops off very quickly as temperature increases. They offer the best performance for low temperature applications, but glazed collectors are required to efficiently achieve higher temperatures. 2. THERMAL STORAGE—Storage is generally required to couple the timing of the intermittent solar resource with the timing of the hot water load. In general, 1 to 2 gallons of storage water per square foot of collector area is adequate. Storage can either be potable water or non-potable water if a load side heat exchanger is used. For small systems, storage is most often in the form of glass-lined steel tanks. 3. CONTROLS—Active systems have a "delta T" (temperature difference) controller to start and stop the pumps. If the temperature in the solar collector outlet exceeds the temperature in the bottom of the storage tank by a set amount (say 6 C°), the controller starts the pump. When this temperature difference falls below another set value, say 2 C°, the controller stops the pumps. The controller will also have a highlimit function to turn off the pumps if the temperature in the storage tank exceeds a third setting, say, 90 C°. Due to the simplicity and low cost of a delta T controller, it is wise to keep controls independent of any whole-plant energy management system, although it is desirable to include some indication of system performance, such as output from a Btu meter or preheat tank temperature in the building control system. 4. CONVENTIONAL BACK-UP HEATER—Solar water heaters save energy by preheating water to the conventional heater. Solar DHW systems are usually designed to meet 40% to 70% of the water-heating load. A back-up, conventional heater is still needed to meet 100% of the peak hot water demand for cloudy days or for when the solar system is down for service.
provided the water is treated and potable in quality. The forced circulation systems employ electrical pumps to circulate the water through collectors and storage tanks. space availability. In the first one. In the other type. either thermosyphon or forced circulation system. The choice of system depends on heat requirement.Broadly. There are 60 BIS approved manufacturers of Solar Flat Plate Collectors. heat transfer fluid quality. They are suitable for domestic and small institutional systems. pollution free and easy for operation in warm countries like ours. etc. The absorber absorbs the solar radiation and transfers the heat to the flowing water. the water in the system is open to the atmosphere at one point or other. heat exchangers are installed to protect the system from hard water obtained from borewells or from freezing temperatures in the cold regions. BASED ON THE COLLECTOR SYSTEM. the solar water heating systems are of two categories. The SHW systems are economical. . They are : closed loop system and open loop system. weather conditions. Inside there are blackened metallic absorber (selectively coated) sheets with built in channels or riser tubes to carry water. annual solar radiation. SOLAR WATER HEATERS CAN BE OF TWO TYPES: Flat plate collectors (fpc) based solar water heaters: The solar radiation is absorbed by Flat Plate Collectors which consist of an insulated outer metallic box covered on the top with glass sheet. The thermosyphon systems are simple and relatively inexpensive.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PASSIVE SOLAR: Not recommended in climates with severe freezing. Thermosiphon and Integral Collectors Storage (ICS) or “batch” heater. In the thermosiphon system. industries etc. The storage tank is located on the roof built into the solar collector. More reliable – no pumps or motors and other mechanical parts. Around 60 deg. This helps absorption of solar radiation and transfers the heat to the water which flows through the inner tube. partially clouded (moderate) but not in rainy or heavy overcast day Only soft and potable water can be used Stainless Steel is used for small tanks whereas Mild Steel tanks with anticorrosion coating inside are used for large tanks Solar water heaters (SWHs) of 100-300 litres capacity are suited for domestic application. south orientation of collectors and over-head tank above SWH system SWH system generates hot water on clear sunny days (maximum). There are 44 MNRE approved ETC based solar water heating suppliers. hospitals. – 80 deg. the insulated tank prevents the loss of stored water losing heat during the night. hotels. . restaurants. Often less expensive than active systems. TYPES OF SOLAR WATER HEATING (SWH) SYSTEMS: PASSIVE SYSTEMS: There two types of passive solar water heaters. Passive systems rely on gravity or natural convection to circulate fluids through the system. industries etc. Cold water enters the storage tank and solar heating panels on the roof. C temperature can be attained depending on solar radiation. weather conditions and solar collector system efficiency Hot water for homes. hotels. In a nutshell this is how they work. SALIENT FEATURES OF SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEM Solar Hot Water System turns cold water into hot water with the help of sun’s rays. The ICS or "batch" heater exposure of the storage unit freezing temperatures limits its use to truly mild climate. The hot water flows to your typical water heater located on the ground level. building terrace and open ground where there is no shading. hospitals. hostels. This is done naturally with convection and gravity flow. guest houses. Easier to maintain. Larger systems can be used in restaurants. The outer wall of the inner tube is coated with selective absorbing material. dairies. Can be installed on roof-tops. Evacuated Tube Collectors (ETC) based Solar Water Heaters: Evacuated Tube Collector is made of double layer borosilicate glass tubes evacuated for providing insulation.
the system operates without electricity. The cooler water in the tank sinks to the bottom of the collector. causing circulation throughout this passive solar heating system. How the System Works: The storage tank is located above the heating panel or collector. Difficult to retrofit PASSIVE DIRECT THERMOSIPHON SYSTEMS: The Passive Direct Thermosiphon Systems always has the storage tank above the solar panel and rely on natural convection to circulate water through solar panels. this system is not suited for use with hard water (open loop system). Often this is refered to as a "open loop" system. The maintenance requirement is low. . PASSIVE SOLAR HEATER: PASSIVE INDIRECT THERMOSIPHON SYSTEM. Freeze Protection: None Water Tolerance: Minimal Pros: Simple. When Sun heats the water directly in the solar panel. The tank sits on the outside of the roof or inside the attic space above the collectors. Ideal where hot water needs arise in the afternoon and evenings. it becomes lighter and naturally rises into the storage tank. Not as efficient as active systems. Cons: Solar panel must be located below the tank.
Often This is refered to as a "closed loop" system. INTEGRATED COLLECTOR STORAGE (ICS) SOLAR HEATING SYSTEMS . Other systems have tank located inside attic spaces above the collectors. uses no electricity to operate. The tank is located on the outside of the roof or inside the attic space above the solar panels. A heat exchanger location inside the storage tank uses propylene glycol or other non-freezing fluids for freeze protection. Cons: The solar panel must be located below the storage tank. How the System Works: This system relies on heated water rising naturally to circulate water through the system.This system uses a heat exchanger located within the storage tank above the solar heating panel. The storage tank sits higher than the solar panels. Freeze Protection: Moderate Hard Water Tolerance: Good Pros: A simple design.
ACTIVE SYSTEMS: . They also are ideal for summer homes or camps where the system would be drained and not function during the cold months.The ICS or Batch system are commonly used for swimming pool heater. cold water fills the solar panel from the bottom. small systems only How the System Works: Integrated Collector Storage (ICS) or Batch Systems are very simple passive solar heating panels made up of one or more black storage tanks in an insulated glazed box. Freeze Protection: moderate. no moving parts Cons: Inefficient in cold climates. Potable water is heated and stored in the ICS collector. As hot water is used. infrequent or light freezing Hard Water Tolerance: Minimal Pros: Simple. The tank and solar panel are combined.
The circulating fluid uses an antifreeze solution (propylene glycol) with a low-freezing point in the collector loop. such as pumps and fans to circulate heated air or liquid that flows from solar heating panels to a storage tank. but you must prevent a stagnant condition that makes the glycol overheat. These solar heaters use electrical. ACTIVE SOLAR WATER HEATING PRO'S AND CON'S Active solar water heating system uses pumps Sensors or other mechanical parts to control the system PV solar panel can power the pump eliminating the need to use utility power More expensive than passive systems Recommended in warm or freezing climates More efficient ACTIVE INDIRECT (CLOSED LOOP) SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEMS Common in cool climates. The glycol needs to be changed every 10 to 15 years. The propylene glycol is a nontoxic heat transfer fluid.Active Solar Heating uses the sun's free solar energy to heat either air or a liquid like water or a non-freezing heat transfer solution. Active heaters increase the efficient heating of liquids or air for solar home heating. always uses a heat exchanger to transfer heat from the non-freezing heat transfer solution circulating fluid to the water in the storage tank. mechanical and controller hardware. You need freeze protection even if you get any freezing temperatures. which is toxic. . This is by far the most popular solar heating system on the market today. This system can be used in warm climates. also called indirect water heaters. Pros & Cons The indirect or closed loop indirect water heaters are recommended in climates where freezing temperatures are expected. Do not confuse propylene glycol with ethylene glycol used in automobile radiators. an indirect or closed loop system. Your solar professional can provide further recommendations based on your site conditions.
These systems are suited where it rarely freezes like Hawaii and Florida. sensors and controls. always uses water in the solar panel loop as the heat transfer fluid. the direct or . Pros & Cons Water drains automatically when the Sun isn’t shining preventing damage of the system from freezing. The engineering technology has advanced so active solar heating systems are more efficient and maintenance free. Active solar heating systems offer the advantage of freeze protection but cost more because of the pumps and controller systems.ACTIVE DIRECT (OPEN LOOP) SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEM Common in mild climates. This system is not suited where freezing conditions are persistent. Direct open loop systems cost less. the direct or open loop systems. The water is heated in the solar panel and circulates through the water heater using pumps. Common in mild climates.
DESIGN OF A SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEM: Solar water heating systems should be designed to minimize life-cycle cost. overheating protection. Such a system will usually produce about 70% of the annual load. For example. and orientation. sensors and controls. Other design considerations include maintenance.open loop systems. Also. always uses water in the solar panel loop as the heat transfer fluid. Minimize life-cycle cost by designing a system that meets 100% of the load on the sunniest day of the year. . freeze protection. aesthetics of the collector mount. utility rebate programs may impose additional design requirements. It is never costeffective to design a system to provide 100% of the load with solar because of the excessive investment in collector area and storage volume. The water is heated in the solar panel and circulates through the water heater using pumps. a solar water heating system must meet 90% of the load in order to qualify for Hawaiian Electric Company rebates.
There are several strategies for prevention of freeze damage. collectors should be rotated within 30° of true (not magnetic) south. but reduce winter gains. Bypass piping and valves allow the conventional system to provide hot water if the solar heating system is down for any reason. for maximum performance. The most common is to circulate a solution of propylene glycol (never use toxic ethylene glycol) and water in the collector loop of an indirect system. Provide periodic maintenance for all systems Check for obvious damage such as broken collector glazing or wet pipe insulation. optimize the tilt of the collecting array. Recent studies show that adequate performance may be obtained with tilt angles and orientations that vary from this considerably. In the continental United States. or vacations. a controller function that simply circulates water in the collector loop when temperatures approach freezing in conjunction with freeze protection values may be adequate. .S. This drain-back configuration has the added advantage of protecting the system from excessive temperatures if hot water consumption is reduced due to seasonal use patterns. Also. Protect against freezing Damage can be caused if water freezes in the collector flow passages or connecting piping. etc. It is usually acceptable to mount the collectors flush on a pitched roof close to the optimal orientation as possible in order to reduce installed cost and improve aesthetics. For a simple comprehensive test. See Building Commissioning and Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM). Surfaces tilted up at latitude plus 15° maximize winter solar gains. are posted at the Solar Radiation Resource Information Center. Check proper pump operation. remodeling. A tilt angle equal to the local latitude maximizes year-round solar gains and is usually appropriate for solar water heating. Check control temperature sensors against thermometers to be sure sensors are functioning. Check pH and freeze point of heat transfer fluid. Where freezing is uncommon. check the preheat tank temperature—it should be hot after a sunny day. Provide a tempering valve and bypass capability The tempering valve is very important to assure consistent temperature water is delivered at the taps.STEPS IN DESIGNING A SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEM INCLUDE: Properly locate the solar collectors: The best annual energy delivery is achieved by facing toward the equator with a tilt up from the horizontal equal to the local latitude. Surfaces tilted up from the horizontal at an angle of latitude minus 15° maximize summer solar gains. Another strategy is to drain the water from the collector back into a small drain-back tank. Resource maps and tables of solar resource information throughout the U. and result in a solar delivery that is uniform throughout the year.
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