If you find that the electric water heater in your housing society flat is sending your power bill soaring through the roof and still can’t do without the comfort of a hot shower, you can install a solar water heater.

Are you hesitating because they cost a fortune to buy and install?

Think of the money that you’ll save on electricity over time. The solar water heater will more than pay for its cost over time in saved electricity costs. When other members of the housing society start following your example and install the same, your housing society will effectively turn into an environment-friendly zone. You can even get the solar water heaters installed in a bunch, bringing down the overall costs.

Buying the Right Solar Water Heater

Basics About Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to heat the water and for this reason there will be no utility bills to pay. The sun’s energy is free!

If your housing society is located in an area that receives a large amount of sunshine throughout the year, solar water heaters can be the most efficient solution for your power consumption problems.

The basic units of a solar water heater are collectors and tanks.

  • Collectors – This part of the solar heater collects the sun’s energy in the form of heat, in tubes or pipes. Water or a heat transfer fluid flows through the tubes, and is heated up by the energy stored in the collectors.
  • Storage tank – This is where the heated water is stored.

Solar water heaters can differ by the type of liquid flowing through the tanks – either water, or heat transfer liquids.

  • Open Loop Systems – These allow household water to run through the collectors, heating it directly. If your housing society water is not salty or acidic, this is a good system to use. If your water is salty, your housing society can think about installing desalination or water softening systems.
  • Closed Loop Systems -These generally use some anti-freeze liquid as the heat transfer medium. This liquid runs through the collectors, gathering heat along the way. This heat is then transferred to the water held in the storage tank. This type of system is mostly used in colder climates, where freezing is a constant problem.

Solar water heaters can also differ by the process in which the water or liquid is moved through the system.

  • Active Systems

Active systems use electric pumps and valves to circulate the liquid through the collectors. These systems are more expensive. They also use a little bit of electricity. For this reason, they won’t work during power outages. But the power requirements for the pumps are very low, and these systems are more efficient, as they actively keep circulating the water inside the collectors.

  • Passive Systems

These systems do not rely on pumps and valves to move the liquid through the collectors. These can be further classified into:

Batch Heaters or Integrated Collector Storage (ICS) Systems

These are the oldest type of solar heaters. As the name implies, the collectors and the water storage are one unit. The storage tank is placed inside an insulated box, with a glazed side facing the sun. This transfers the heat to the tank, heating up the water inside.

Thermosiphon Systems

This system relies on heat and gravity to keep the water circulating and flowing through the collectors. In Thermosiphon systems, the storage tank and the collectors are separated. The storage tank is located above the collectors. It works in this way – water flows through the collectors, heating up. Hot water rises, so, the heated water rises to the tank above. Cooler water from the tank sinks back, allowing the hot water to slowly fill the tank. The colder water then flows back through the tubes, continuing the process.

Solar heaters can also differ by the type of collectors used:
The energy collectors in a solar water heater consist of a network of pipes through which the liquid runs, getting heated in the process.

  • Flat Pane – Flat Pane Systems cover the whole network of pipes with one or two panes of glass, which absorb the heat and transfer it to the pipes.
  • Evacuated Systems – In Evacuated Systems, glass tubes surround individual pipes in vacuum. This reduces heat loss.

You can also buy hybrid systems which have electric heating systems installed in the storage tank. This can be used on cloudy days when not enough heat can be collected though the solar panels. If your housing society has decided to get residents to install solar water heaters, you can go with the idea.

Residents of the housing society can get together to find out more about Solar Water Heaters. The housing society association can do some more research about the standards, the collector and storage capacity and other features, to find what will suit the residents best.

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