Solar energy is a versatile, multi-tasking resource that can do much more than you may have imagined. In addition to converting the sun’s energy into electricity to power your home or business, solar energy can be harnessed to heat water without the need to convert it to electricity first. In the typical household, a large percentage of energy used goes to heat water. Read on to see if solar thermal water heating is right for you.
Benefits of Solar Water Heating
Much of your home’s energy expenses relate directly to heating water. You and your family use hot water constantly for hand washing, bathing, laundry, dishwashing and cooking. Offering an economical way to heat water is just one more way solar energy can improve lives. Solar thermal saves money and further lessens your dependence on utility providers. Solar thermal systems are also highly efficient, especially for remote locations and off-grid living. As with any solar technology, it’s helpful to know all the details before determining which system and configuration is best for your home.
Types of Solar Thermal Systems
Solar water heating systems are available in several configurations, depending on your needs. In open loop systems, water is heated directly for use, whereas closed loop systems utilize a heat transfer fluid to heat the water. Within these categories you will also find active and passive systems. Active systems have moving parts like pumps and valves, while passive systems have none. If freezing is a risk, closed loop systems are typically recommended as the best option. If you live in an area without freezing weather and plenty of sunshine, the simplest and least expensive is the passive open loop system. In an open loop system, water runs through tubes within the panel, is heated by the sun, and stored. Depending on your hot water needs and available space, you can choose from a variety of solar thermal system configurations and sizes.
The Best Solar Thermal Systems for the Intermountain West
Thanks to the freezing risk in the U.S. Mountain West region, experts recommend either a pressurized glycol or a drain-back system for solar water heating. Pressurized glycol circulates in the solar collectors, becoming heated. The warmed liquid is moved to a heat exchanger inside the storage tank, which then heats the water to the desired temperature by direct contact. The other advantage of a pressurized system is flexibility of installation. The pressurized flow allows for the collectors and storage tanks to be placed be in a variety of configurations. Drain-back systems are much more limited with regard to design and layout options.
Solar thermal heating systems can produce plenty of hot water for all your family’s needs, and they are available as swimming pool heaters as well. To learn how you can use this money-saving technology to heat your home’s water, contact Intermountain Wind and Solar, serving the states of the Intermountain West. They will be happy to explain how you too can capitalize on all the benefits of solar energy.
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