What is Solar Thermal Water Heating?

Solar hot water systems are very different to a solar PV system. Solar thermal hot water systems (SHW) are one of the simplest and most widely installed of the renewable energy systems in place today. They transfer the abundant energy from the Sun into hot water in your hot water cylinder. SHW will even produce heat in the winter, but will require being topped up to the required temperature by an electricity or natural/LPG gas booster.

For the average domestic home in the Australia, daily water heating consumes approximately 5-11 kWh of energy, but this varies considerably with household occupancy and lifestyle. There are two common types of solar collectors available; the Flat Plate/Flat Panel and the Evacuated Tube with Heat Pipes.

How does it work?

Solar energy is absorbed by solar collectors, usually mounted on the roof of a building. When exposed to sunlight, the solar collectors heat up to temperatures significantly above the ambient air temperature, and once they are several degrees Celsius warmer than the water in your hot water cylinder, heat will be transferred to the cylinder.

Evacuated tube collectors are more advanced than flat panel systems, containing discreet, parallel rows of evacuated tubes containing a heat pipe. Heat trapped within the tubes is prevented from escaping by a partial vacuum and so are more efficient, particularly in colder weather. The heat is transferred from the collector to a manifold, through which the water coming from your water tank flows; taking the heat energy generated back to the hot water cylinder.
Once the heat has been delivered to the hot water cylinder, cooler water then circulates back to the collector so that it can reheat and begin the process all over again.


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