A solar water heater is a device for collecting the solar energy for providing partially or totally Hot Sterilized Water (HSW).
This type of heating usually can complete the types of water heating exploiting other energy sources (electricity, fossil fuels, biomass…) and, under certain conditions, totally replace them. Solar energy is renewable, thus such replacement can effectively limit emissions of greenhouse gases and the production of nuclear waste, which is why the installation of such devices is strongly encouraged by many states and communities through taxation, bonus and / or obligation to installation on new construction.
Those who write their research paper on solar water heater should know that the share of solar energy is the solar fraction, i.e., corresponds the ratio between the energy supplied by the solar part of an installation and the total consumption of the installation. In Western Europe, a solar water heater allows approximately two-thirds (66%) of the savings on hot water needs, whether individual houses (individual solar water heaters (ISWH)) or collective structures (collective solar water heater (CSWH)). In the southern Mediterranean countries, some Asian countries, the Caribbean, solar water heaters are common; given a more regular and intense solar radiation, as well as a higher ambient temperature, the equipment is much simpler, often consisting of a single balloon on the roof, thermally non-insulated, which makes use of the solar sensor together with a hot water tank.
A solar water heater consists of several organs:
- of solar panels (or solar thermal collectors) that capture the energy of solar radiation by heating a heat transfer fluid (water or antifreeze) in a primary circuit. The latter is responsible for delivering the heat recovered to the reservoir;
- a (hot water tank or hot water cylinder) in a volume of water which is heated by the heat transfer fluid through a heat exchanger, usually a coil of copper. This body can also come in 2 parts: 1 heat exchanger and a hot water tank, this may allow the reuse of a cumulus;
- an auxiliary heating device may be integrated into the reservoir, working via principle of electrical resistance or binding to a gas boiler, using oil or wood. It is useful when solar energy is insufficient to meet needs. The insufficiency can (very rarely in temperate regions or with oceanic climate) be avoided with a larger facility to alleviate the hollow or adapting how hot water is used.
- an expansion tank on the primary circuit, ensures the safety of the equipment, it can compensate for the thermal expansion of the fluid. It takes the form of a small metal container; a safety valve is imperative in a closed circuit, in the case where it would not be integrated thereto. An expansion tank in the open (single plastic jug) placed at the highest point solves the expansion and security in the event of overheating (not drain coolant). The expansion tank can be replaced directly by the heat exchanger in the case of a system “drain back” or self-draining, so at atmospheric pressure
Alternatively, if the tank is placed above the solar panel, it is not necessary to use a pump.
The water circulation in the primary circuit is via thermosiphon when the temperature of the water in the panel is relatively high (relative to the rest of the primary loop) to initiate movement.
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