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Types of Solar Water Heating Systems

2017/10/4 18:49:54 Viewers:

Open-Loop Active Systems

Open-loop active systems use pumps to circulate household potable water through the collectors. This design is efficient and lowers operating costs but is not appropriate if water is hard or acidic because scale and corrosion will gradually disable the system. Open-loop active systems are popular in regions that do not experience subzero temperatures. Flat plate open-loop systems should never be installed in climates that experience sustained periods of subzero temperatures. The Courel solar water heater can be installed in an open loop in areas that experience sub-zero temperatures as long as the solar controller has a low temperature fuction.


Closed-Loop Active Systems

These systems pump heat-transfer fluids (usually a glycol-water antifreeze mixture) through the solar water heater. Heat exchangers transfer the heat from the fluid to the water that is stored in tanks. Double-walled heat exchangers or twin coil solar tanks prevent contamination of household water. Some standards require double walls when the heat-transfer fluid is anything other than household water. Closed-loop glycol systems are popular in areas subject to extended subzero temperatures because they offer good freeze protection. However, glycol antifreeze systems are more expensive to purchase and install and the glycol must be checked each year and changed every few years, depending on glycol quality and system temperatures.


Drainback systems

use water as the heat-transfer fluid in the collector loop. A pump circulates the water through the solar water heater. When the pump is turned off, the solar water heater drains of water, which ensures freeze protection and also allows the system to turn off if the water in the storage tank becomes too hot. A problem with drainback systems is that the solar water heater installation and plumbing must be carefully positioned to allow complete drainage. The pump must also have sufficient head pressure to pump the water up to the collector each time the pump starts. Electricity usage is therefore slightly higher than a sealed closed or open loop.


Thermosiphon Systems

A thermosiphon system relies on warm water rising, a phenomenon known as natural convection, to circulate water through the solar absorber and to the tank. In this type of installation, the tank must be located above the absorber tubes/panel. As water in the absorber heats, it becomes lighter and naturally rises into the tank above. Meanwhile, cooler water in the tank flows downwards into the absorber, thus causing circulation throughout the system. This system is widely used with both flat plate and evacuated tube absorbers. The disadvantages of this design are the poor aesthetics of having a large tank on the roof and the isses with structural integrity of the roof. Often the roof must be reinforced to cope with the weight of the tank.