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A solar water heater is an excellent investment in your residential or commercial building in Australia. Unlike electric or gas hot water systems, you save a significant sum of money in the long run, which means the system eventually pays for itself.

This hot water system utilises solar energy from the sun, which is free. Therefore, you only have to spend more on upfront costs but save more in the long run, making it a valuable investment in your property. This appliance captures heat from the sun, and then the water heating system uses the energy to heat the water for daily use.

You could use the water for different purposes, including washing, cleaning, and bathing. Generally, with a solar hot water system, you use clean energy and minimise electricity costs. To help you understand more about these systems, this article looks at how solar hot water systems work.

Types Of Solar Hot Water Systems

There are various types of solar hot water systems to pick from in the market. The heaters are categorised depending on the following:

  • How they work
  • The collectors they use

Grading according to solar water heater's function

The working mechanism of solar water heaters is quite simple. They come with collectors strategically installed on your roof or ground to harness solar energy utilised to heat cold water. This is done in two ways, leading to two types of solar water systems.

Direct and indirect solar water heaters

You will find direct and indirect solar hot water systems. For direct heaters, water gets heated directly in the tubes located under the collectors. The water moves from the storage tank to the collectors and back. This system is also referred to as the open loop system.

On the other hand, indirect heaters are different because solar heat is used to heat a liquid. The circulation system moves the heated water to the heat exchanger, where this liquid transfers its energy to the tank water. The tank is insulated to ensure that your water remains hot for a long time.

A pump is used to move the heat transfer liquid. This liquid is stored in a drawback reservoir when the pumps stop working. The indirect water system is perfect if you live in a very cold or hot area. This is the case because the heat transfer liquid controls freezing or overheating.

Thus, the system is always maintained at optimal levels and ensures that you always have hot water in your commercial or residential property in Australia.

Passive and active solar water heaters

There are also active and passive solar water heaters under this category. An active solar water system utilises pumps to circulate water in the system or a heat transfer liquid, and they use electronic controllers to regulate the entire system. They feature temperature controllers to determine the temperature differences between the water in the tank and the heat transfer liquid.

The temperature controllers start the pump automatically in case of a pressure difference to move the heat transfer liquid through the system to heat the water. The pump stops automatically when there is a temperature difference of around three to four degrees Celsius between the liquid and water.

Passive solar heaters utilise pumps to circulate the heat transfer liquid or water through the entire system. These systems work on convection currents to move the heated water and gravity to move the water from the storage tank to all the taps for use. The storage tank is located above the collectors to allow the hot water to rise to the tank.

Passive solar hot water systems are less costly, simple to install, and require no maintenance. On the other hand, their active counterparts provide more freedom in installation design and don’t freeze or overheat.

Grading according to the type of collectors

Solar hot water systems are also categorised depending on the type of collectors they have, which also determines the working mechanism.

Batch collectors

Also referred to as Integrated Collector Storage Systems, the water is heated in the tanks. In this system, your water can stay in the collector for a long time, making it extremely hot if you have low demand for the same.

Fortunately, they feature a tempering valve at the tap to protect you from scalding accidents. The valve helps mix cold and hot water to reduce the temperature before it can be delivered to the various taps in your home.

Flat plate collectors

Flat plate collectors feature copper tubes fitted to the flat absorber plates. The most popular configuration is several parallel tubes connected at the end of each of two pipes, the outlet, and the inlet manifolds. The assembly is inside an insulated box and is covered using tempered glass.

Evacuated tube collectors

These are the most effective collectors. They feature a metal or glass tube with a heat transfer liquid or water surrounded by a larger glass tube. Additionally, there is a vacuum space between them to ensure minimal heat loss.

The Components Of A Solar Hot Water System

Solar water heaters feature a simple construction. The most critical parts of the system include the heat transfer liquid, solar collector, pressure valve, storage tank, heat transfer system, piping, and others. Let’s look at these parts and how they work.

Solar collector

A solar collector traps the energy from the sun and converts it into heat. The collector has a black metal plate which plays a huge role in maximising heat absorption. Below the plate, you will find pipes containing the heat transfer liquid. All the pipes are connected to the plates, so the fluid moves through the pipes to get heated.

Storage tank

A storage tank helps store the heated water, which can either be insulated or not. It features an inlet to allow cold water at its bottom. The tank also has an outlet for the heated water and houses the heat in the transfer system.

Heat transfer system

The heat transfer system features the tubing that carries the heat transfer liquid. This fluid moves through the solar collector and heats up. The fluid then moves through the pipes to the heat transfer system inside the storage tank.

Air vent and pressure valve

The storage tank also features a vent and a pressure valve. The valve helps regulate the pressure inside the tank and allows for effective air escape if there is excess pressure caused by air or steam.

How A Solar Hot Water System Works

A solar water heater has a simple working mechanism. The heater converts energy from the sun into heat energy. The energy then heats your water from low to high, depending on your preferences. The system absorbs light using the solar collectors on your roof and changes it into heat.

The heat is then passed to the water tank using a circulating pump. The exchange is usually made possible by the thermal regulator but only happens when the solar collector gets hotter than the water in your tank. This ensures that the circulating pumps don’t use unnecessary electricity.

Besides, this also helps prevent overheating. The collectors work at optimal levels at midday when there is plenty of sunlight. The water gets preheated if there is insufficient sunlight, and a backup system helps bring the water to the correct temperatures. This means you can use your solar hot water system to generate hot water at a constant temperature.

Do You Want To Install A Solar Hot Water System?

Now that you know how a solar hot water system functions and its benefits, you can install it in your commercial or residential property in Australia. You must work with a reliable plumbing contractor near you for the best solar hot water system installation results. Depending on your hot water needs, a plumbing contractor can help you identify the best solar water heater for your property.

Additionally, plumbers invest in high-quality tools and use the latest technology to ensure that your solar water heater is installed correctly. They offer high-quality installation to ensure that it works optimally for many years. They can also provide additional hot water services, including inspections, maintenance, repair, and replacements when necessary.


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