Hot water is an expensive commodity. In fact, there are parts of the world in which this notion doesn’t even exist. Yet in most parts of our society, hot water is in high demand. Previous methods for supplying hot water have stored the water in tanks that used a mechanical boiler to heat the water. Recently, though, we have begun to wonder why we aren’t using the hottest resource of all: the sun. After all, it’s a giant ball of flames – you’d think it would be able to heat a little water. Well, now it can, thanks to solar technology.
First off, let’s just clarify that it is possible to run the same mechanical boiler system and simply power it with a photovoltaic solar panel set-up. However, there are more efficient and less costly methods for designing your home solar water system. While photovoltaic systems are by far the most common due to the fact that they can be installed without modifying the structure of the house itself, one can also use a thermal system.
In a thermal system, water passes through a collection of heat collectors which absorb heat from the sun. It then can be redirected into a tank for storage, much in the same manner it is heated by a mechanical boiler, only without the greenhouse gas emissions, or set to other purposes (thermal systems actually heat water and then use that thermal energy to generate electricity).
While the benefits of a solar hot water system are great, it also needs a backup. If sunlight is scarce (possibly in the winter when nights are long), people still want hot water. Therefore, one needs an electrical “booster” to ensure that even when the sun’s not shining, they can still get hot water. However, the savings on any bill will still be lessened considerably. The amount depends on how much the sun shines in your area.
Hot water heating can be expensive and conventional methods of supplying it can potentially harm the environment. With the use of a solar hot water system, you’ll not only help protect the world we live in, but you’ll also cut you’re hot water bill in half (possibly more!). While the up-front cost is high, it pays off considerably in the end. It is definitely something to keep in mind, particularly if you’re building a new home from the ground up. In any situation, always try to think green whenever it is possible.