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Solar Water Heaters

Eugene Said:

Solar Heating NZ - Does anyone in Auckland or Wellington use Solar Water Heaters in their Homes?

We Answered:

My people in Wellington & Auckland use solar energy for all their heating needs.

1. Auckland has a naturally conducive climate for solar energy. Going solar gets you financial benefits from the NZ government.

2. Solar water heaters work in both hot & cold climates. It is easier to install a solar heater than a solar electric panel or windmill.

3. These heaters last for 20 years with minimum maintenance. You can even build them yourself.

Phyllis Said:

Is Technic Solar Water Heaters Available in Bangalore?

We Answered:

You can check the brands of solar water heaters available in the article here:…

Clinton Said:

Are heat pumps as good as solar water heaters?

We Answered:

They are different. If you are willing to risk not having hot water once in a while but get your hot water for free after the cost of installing the system or just to have an electric or gas backup. The heat pump is going to work any time you have power which is probably pretty much always but it costs money to run it after you have paid to install it. I have a geothermal heat pump to heat and cool my home in Wisconsin. In summer it does heat most of my water by cooling the house but it still does not run for free. In my opinion if your just thinking about the hot water go solar because once it is in it pretty much is running for free and I like free.

Lauren Said:

What is the difference between Vacuum Tube & Heat Pipe Solar Water Heaters?

We Answered:

one has the absence of matter and the other heats up matter and then has no matter in it. (basicaly one uses heat and the other is already has no matter)

Wanda Said:

plse give me info on solar water heaters using vaccume glass tubes made in mainland china.?

We Answered:

Here is a Chinese company that makes them.

Caroline Said:

Are solar water heaters worth the investment?

We Answered:

When you speak about something being "worth the investment" you could be speaking about several different things. In any economic consideration you will be balancing installation costs vs running and maintenance costs.

The easiest is a of question savings: will buying one save you money? I think that the answer is clearly yes, however it does depend somewhat on where you live what the climate is like, how much sun you get and how much hot water do you use. The payback time of a system near the Artic circle may be longer than nearer the equator (although the conventional costs of hot water to be offset will also be higher.)

To clarify something another answer seemed to confuse, you will be using solar thermal collectors (to gather the sun's energy as heat) and not photovoltaic solar collectors (to gather the sun's energy as electrical power that would have to be converted bact to heat.) A newer type of solar thermal collector is an evacuated tube collector that can produce high temperatures in cold climates. Sometimes they will even use PCM (phase change materials) within the collectors. These are more expensive and the total cost wil have to go up.

In freezing climates you will have to be either installing an antifreeze or a pump down system to prevent damage to the system from freezing. This is an "active" system as it will incorporate pumps.

By comparison, in a relative hot climate "breadbox" heaters can be used which have a storage tank above a coil system or "batch" solar collectors can be used (basically a big can in the sun) these "passive" systems do not have separate pumps as part of the system.

The more parts required for a system the higher the cost. The "payback" period is how long it will take for the savings the system will allow to "pay-back" the costs of the system. Sometimes this is the cost of the entire system but it should be only the added costs over a conventional system that would otherwise have been installed. IE a conventional system may cost $1000. If the solar collector system costs 3500 including any necessary (and usually downsized) back up system and it allows for a savings of $500 each year then the payback would be 3500 - 1000 or 2500/500 or 5 years. After this time the system would contribute to the overall savings that may have been installed in the home. Payback is also affected by amount of use so a laundrymat or a family of 10 is more likely to be spending a lot of money on hot water. Look also for any available rebates, tax credits or grants that may make the system cheaper. Some designs may give more benefits.

Actual efficiency of the system is something different. A condensing gas water heater may be 95% efficient. This is a measure of how much of the energy that goes in comes out is the desired form. In this case as hot water. "Lost" heat within the house may still be otherwise useful but heat up a flue is wasted. Although the efficiency of a solar collecter system may be only 30% you are still paying for the gas and you don't pay for the sunlight. (,although you do pay something for electricity for pumps.) You will have to look further at the numbers and as a separate issue judge how secure is the energy supply.

If your concern is not economic but some other measure of satisfaction for the money spent (as in saying "was the movie worth the investment.) You will have to determine for yourself how much you are willing to spend to have a state of the art system that might be the talk of the neighborhood. Is global warming a concern for you? Will this help offset your concerns? Are you trying or do you have to live "off the grid?" These issues will also help to suggest how long of a payback period you are willing to accept.

For actual prices and perhaps some help determining the pay back period you may call on estimates from local companies. Like any other project you should get several estimates. A brief rundown of options might include:

-Hot water coil in an existing heating system (this is the second most common system used) oil, gas, masonry wood stove,
-By product of a heat pump operation
-point of use hot water heaters (on demand or small tanks)
-on demand hot water heaters (point of use or whole house)
-oil or gas hot water cylinders (tanks, this is the most common system used)
-condensing gas hot water cylinders (tanks or sometimes simply heaters)
-solar passive hot water system
-solar active hot water system (with anti freeze or pump down)

there are electric variants of most systems that are often a most expensive last choice. Any solar collector system will need a backup and electric is an inexpensive installation choice that raises operating costs.

Discuss It!

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