1 x half panel (3.25 x 0.6)
1 x half panel (3.25 x 0.6)
Solar water heating (SWH) is the conversion of sunlight into heat for water heating using a solar thermal collector. A variety of configurations are available at varying cost to provide solutions in different climates and latitudes. SWHs are widely used for residential and some industrial applications.
A sun-facing collector heats a working fluid that passes into a storage system for later use. SWH are active (pumped) and passive (convection-driven). They use water only, or both water and a working fluid. They are heated directly or via light-concentrating mirrors. They operate independently or as hybrids with electric or gas heaters. In large-scale installations, mirrors may concentrate sunlight onto a smaller collector.
The global solar thermal market is dominated by China, Europe, Japan and India, although Israel was one of the first countries to mandate installation of SWH in 1980, leading to a flourishing industry.
Records of solar collectors in the U.S. date to before 1900, involving a black-painted tank mounted on a roof. In 1896 Clarence Kemp of Baltimore enclosed a tank in a wooden box, thus creating the first ‘batch water heater’ as they are known today. Frank Shuman built the world’s first solar thermal power station in Maadi, Egypt, using parabolic troughs to power a 60-70 horsepower engine that pumped 6,000 gallons of water per minute from the Nile River to adjacent cotton fields.
Flat-plate collectors for solar water heating were used in Florida and Southern California in the 1920s. Interest grew in North America after 1960, but especially after the 1973 oil crisis.
See Appendix 1 for country-specific statistics on the “Use of solar water heating worldwide”. Solar power is in use in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Sample designs include a simple glass-topped insulated box with a flat solar absorber made of sheet metal, attached to copper heat exchanger pipes and dark-colored, or a set of metal tubes surrounded by an evacuated (near vacuum) glass cylinder. In industrial cases a parabolic mirror can concentrate sunlight on the tube. Heat is stored in a hot water storage tank. The volume of this tank needs to be larger with solar heating systems to compensate for bad weather[clarification needed] and because the optimum final temperature for the solar collector[clarification needed] is lower than a typical immersion or combustion heater. The heat transfer fluid (HTF) for the absorber may be water, but more commonly (at least in active systems) is a separate loop of fluid containing anti-freeze and a corrosion inhibitor delivers heat to the tank through a heat exchanger (commonly a coil of copper heat exchanger tubing within the tank). Copper is an important component in solar thermal heating and cooling systems because of its high heat conductivity, atmospheric and water corrosion resistance, sealing and joining by soldering and mechanical strength. Copper is used both in receivers and primary circuits (pipes and heat exchangers for water tanks).
Another lower-maintenance concept is the ‘drain-back’. No anti-freeze is required; instead, all the piping is sloped to cause water to drain back to the tank. The tank is not pressurized and operates at atmospheric pressure. As soon as the pump shuts off, flow reverses and the pipes empty before freezing can occur.