solar water heater for ML

trancegemini_waAugust 21, 2010

Hi Ml, I have some photos of our new solar water heater for ya :) (ignore the ugly roof which seriously needs replacing)

There are two solar panels with the tank at the top there

You can see the copper collectors behind the glass here

Closeup of the glass, this is the new solite glass that they use now

this is the inlet and outlet pipes - (nice work the way they just punched a hole to put the pipes through, pffft)

Basically how it works is the water circulates through the collectors and into the tank, out of the tank and back through the collectors and just keeps recirculating by thermo syphoning. The tank is always full and there is an inlet and outlet valve so whenever you use the hot water there is more water going back into the tank and somehow this creates pressure to push the water out. There is also an overflow pipe in case the pressure builds up too much in the tank and that runs down the outside wall of the house just below.

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Trance, I wrote a long reply to this, and it is gone gone gone.

I also put the thread in my Clippings, and sent it via email to my DH. I hope those things went through, because I don't want to lose this.

Your water heater is awesome! I am fascinated with the compact design, and how few solar panels it requires. Man! You must have a lot of radiant energy in Australia!

Well, I appreciate you remembering my interest in your project. I'm thinking seriously about it. Heating water by electricity or gas, it amounts to about 30 or 40 % of your energy bills. With a large family, probably more. But I use mostly cold water washing of clothing, but not dishes.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:13PM
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You know it might look a bit smaller than it really is from the angle of the photos but I'll try to get some measurements for you. We get so much sunshine here that it's crazy not to use solar. In summer there is so much hot water that I do laundry in warm or hot water, because it doesn't cost any more than using cold water, there is so much hot water there that I figure I may as well use it but I'm a bit more conservative in winter so that we don't have to use the electric override any more than necessary but even when we use that it only takes about 15 to 20 mins to heat the water for a couple of showers and some dishes before I turn it off again - although I think the element in there must be pretty large so it would use a lot of electricity when it's on. That might even be something your DH could implement, I think it would be similar to boiling a kettle except on a larger scale?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:54PM
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Trance, DH only comes online in the mornings, so he won't read it until tomorrow. He will see your second post. I bet he can look at the design and know how much heating surface is in the thing.

With our southern orientation for the roof, we will get the most benefit from the solar heat gain in our latitude. In the northern hemisphere, that is. I would be LOST in your neck of the woods! Turned backwards it is. :)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:36PM
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Awesome! My husband made a solar hot water system in our last house, using ideas from a research project. Basically it was black tubing laid out across the southern side of a large roof, and somehow tied into our gas water tank, which essentially became a storage tank for the hot water. He then somehow ran that into a smaller electric tank that would only kick on when needed, which was rarely. He did this when our youngest teenage girls were using too much shower water and propane had gotten expensive. We disabled it when we sold our home, as we didn't want to deal with the new owner if they ever had issues with it.

We purchased 4 small solar panels to experiment with.... I think they are 120 watts each. Earlier today they were cranking out full power. One advantage to living in Florida!

We figure it would take about 60 of these to power the house, air conditioning and all. If they work well we will gradually purchase more. We're going to line the south side of the barn with panels.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:09PM
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Sandy, that is an admirable goal. We do not have the space to be that ambitious, but our demand is not high. Or I don't think it is. And with some storage batteries, it could go a long ways to making us a light user of the power grid.

It is an option worth thinking about, isn't it?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 9:58PM
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sandy that's how a lot of pool heaters are done here with black tubing on a roof to heat the water. It's such a simple concept when you have the heat and sunshine to do it. Powering your house by solar is REALLY impressive! Are your solar panels tied into your grid connection? or independent?
Here you have to have them tied into the grid sort of like an energy exchange program.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 1:17AM
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Trance, I can understand why it would be required for you all to tie into the grid. Imagine all that sunlight and power which would or could be generated, and then going to waste if not shared with the grid. You guys have a super hot climate!

I suppose if your use was low, the grid could be giving you excess credits! Wow, think of the power company paying me instead of the other way around. Love THAT thought!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 11:20AM
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ML It's a fairly new thing so it will be interesting to see what sort of impact it has over the next few years. Traditionally we've used a lot of coal fired power to run our grid but over the last few years it hasn't been able to keep up with demand in summer with the heat and A/C use and of course it's pretty dirty power in terms of pollution and the environment. There has to be some advantage to the hot climate lol

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 10:33AM
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Trance, is it hotter in Australia NOW than it was say 20 years ago? And is it affecting the wildlife? Does it force the flocks of parrots--and you have the most amazing collection of different parrots anywhere--to become endangered, or to become pests with the farmers, is there competition for water supplies?

And how about the kangaroo habitat, the ostrich, emu, and those other creatures unique to Australia?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 11:11AM
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