One of the joys of generating your own energy in solar energy homes is that you can have as extensive or as minimal a system as you think you’ll need. If you get plenty of sunshine where you live, it makes sense to use it to generate power for all or most of your needs. If you live in a less sunny part of the world, you are probably better off starting with a solar system that will provide you with hot water.
Solar energy water heating systems take free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. You can make the water hotter by using a conventional boiler or immersion heater, which also works when solar energy is not available.
The main benefits of solar energy homes water heating systems are:
- They work all year round, although water gets hotter in summer months than in winter.
- They will help slash your carbon footprint. Using free energy from the sun is far greener than buying conventional fossil fuel-generated electricity or gas.
- You will reduce your energy bills. You don’t get a bill for sunlight, so once the initial installation has been paid for, your hot water will cost you less.
How Do Solar Power Water Heating Systems Work?
Solar energy homes rigged up for hot water have solar panels (called collectors), fitted to their roofs. They gather heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. You can use an immersion heather or boiler as a back up to heat the water further to reach whatever temperature you expect. Obviously, the more you use your conventional heater, the less green your solar energy home will be.
There are two types of solar water heating collectors (commonly known as solar panels):
- Evacuated tubes, which are flat plate collectors. They can be integrated into the roof like tiles or else fixed on your existing roof tiles.
- Larger solar panels can also be used to help heat your home as well. How effective they will be will depend on how sunny your area is. In northern Europe or northern Canada and Alaska you would need a very large expanse of panelling to get any worthwhile benefit. In southern Europe, and hotter places like Florida, California, New Mexico and so on, this is a definite option you should consider.
Maintaining solar water heating systems is generally very cheap. Most solar water heating systems sold in Europe and North America arrive with 5 or 10 year warranties and, anyway, require a small amount of maintenance. If you are looking to make your dwelling one of the solar energy homes, you should consider getting more information about solar water heating systems.