How Solar Hot Water Works [Video]

On average, about 18% of home energy consumption is for water heating, the second largest consumer behind space heating.  The primary technology used to do this is the tank-type water heater (both gas- and electric-powered), but solar water heating can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water. 

Solar hot water systems vary, and one system we’ve mentioned previously is a passive-pump system by Virginia-based Sunnovations.  This video explains it.

Sunnovations offers a system with less parts, less maintenance, and a one-day installation because it doesn’t have a pump, controller, wiring, or expansion tank.

Sunnovations uses a geyser pump, or bubble pump, that starts working as soon as fluid in the system warms.  The gravity-fed system naturally circulates water, so, as explained in the video, a homeowner may get warm water even if the power goes out.

[+] Learn more about solar hot water from Sunnovations.

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  • Irv

    Most houses here in Israel have solar water heaters on the roof of some type, either a tank or panels.

  • Dennis Duce

    Great video! this is a cool concept I would love to know more about how this works with out a pump. Solar thermal can also be used for building heat if the system is large enough. Check out this video on a system in Salt Lake City that helps heat a low income housing project.

    • ELo

      Artspace Commons actually isn’t a low-income housing project.  I believe it’s the only one of the Artspace communities that isn’t low-income.  One notable downfall I’ve noticed with the system used at Artspace as a resident for over a year is that if there is a power outage, we have no hot water for 24 hours.  I’m not sure how that works with a solar power system, but this has been the issue.  We’ve lost all of our hot water twice this week alone.  

  • solar hot water

    Thanks for this post. I definitely agree
    with what you are saying. I have been talking about this subject a lot lately
    with my brother so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. Fingers

  • saniconenergy

    The solar water heater comprises of two parts viz., solar collector (which absorbs sun radiations & transfer the heat to water) and a storage tank, which stores the water heated by the solar collector. The most commonly used collectors are of two types, Flat Plate Collector also referred as FPC, which is usually a flat insulated box covered with the glass and a bunch of tubes , usually of copper. This tube is covered & welded to the wide fins,usually of Aluminium painted with high absorption coatings such as TINOX.

    The other type of collector is the evacuated tube collector also know as ETC. This comprises of hollow glass tubes with anti reflective coating inside. This tube contains a metal pipe usually of Copper placed in the center. The metal tube is hermetically sealed with glass tube and the air inside is sucked to create sort of vacuum.

    The collectors are placed on the rooftop facing the south in northern hemisphere and north in southern hemisphere.The solar collector turns the sun’s radiation into heat which is then transferred on the the water inside these tubes.

    The heated water is transferred to the storage tank either through the pumps, which is controlled by the solar controller or if the tank is placed on the top of the collectors then through thermosiphon (hot is lighter thus rises, cold is denser, heavier thus settles down).

    In case of non sunny days or fluctuation in hot water demand, The solar water heater is backed up by auxiliary heating which could either be of gas, electric, heat pump etc. It is always recommended to install a thermostatic mixture in the solar water heater so as to prevent scalding if the temperature of the water rises exceptionally.

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