Solar heaters come in various sizes and designs. But they all feature a storage tank ,water collector, and use sunlight energy to heat water.
Furthermore, a solar water heating system can either be passive or active. Whereas the active solar water heater comes with a circulating pump, their passive counterparts don’t have any.
Active Solar Water Heating Systems: they can either come with an indirect circulating system or an active one. It is also quite expensive. The direct system uses pumps to circulate water right through the collectors, and then into your home. And because of their nature, they are best suitable for non-freezing environments.
On the other hand, indirect solar water circulation systems use pumps to circulate heat transfer fluids. These fluids don’t solidify, and they go through the collectors and then the heat exchanger heating the water in the tank before flowing into your home. They are best suitable for freezing environments.
The passive solar heating systems : these solar heating systems are cheaper than their active counterparts, making them ideal for individuals working on a tight budget. However, as much as they can deliver good results, they aren’t as efficient as the active solar heating systems.
One major advantage of passive solar heating systems is their reliability and durability. Also, they can comfortably handle a high demand for hot water.
There’s also a type of passive solar water heating system called the thermosyphon system. It works by continuously heating the water as it passes through it. So, at the end of it, the tank will have hot water rising, while the cold water sinks to be heated. And because of this, the system is usually installed underneath the water tank. However, this type is expensive and requires professional installation to guarantee efficiency.
Does a Solar Water Heater Work at Night?
This is a commonly asked question, especially because we all know solar water heaters require the sun to heat water.
If you’ve also been wondering the same, the answer is a simple yes, they can work perfectly at night. But how?
You see, solar heater systems come with various solar collectors that collect solar energy. There is also an insulated tank within their systems to store hot water. The two features (solar collectors and insulated tanks) are both connected.
So, during the day, the solar heater heats the water in its solar collectors, and then it pumps it or its automatic released to the storage tank. You can now use the already available hot water for various functions within your home, and as with demand.
Now, at about releasing hot water at night, you see solar water heaters come with backup units. These units are either powered by gas or electricity.
Their main duties are to heat up water on days when the sun isn’t enough, or add more heat to water when it isn’t hot enough.
So, at night, when you need hot water, but it isn’t enough or not as hot as it should be, the backup unit will momentarily turn on to heat the water.
You may ask yourself; what then is the use of me getting a solar water heater if I will still need a backup unit?
To answer this, it’s important to note that the electric or solar backup unit in your appliance works only occasionally. When absolutely necessary. This is because solar water heaters come with well-insulated tanks. These tanks ensure the water doesn’t cool down as faster as it should be in any normal tank. Therefore, most of the nights, your water will still be hot to use, without requiring the backup unit to intervene.
So, it’s best if you look at the backup unit as a supplementary heater. Its work is to boost the work of the solar heater, only when necessary.
Can a Solar Water Heater Work on Rainy Days?
Since the solar energy system requires sunlight to produce heat, the majority of its work can only be done on sunny days. However, like mentioned above, the solar heaters devices come with backup units for uncertain times. So, when it’s rainy, the backup systems will step up to heat the water in the tank to preferred temperatures.
The good thing is that the solar panel will continue to absorb the power, as long as the sun appears, no matter how small. But, this also means you will have to minimize the use of hot water in your home during rainy days as compared to sunny days.
Therefore, to be on the safe side, especially if it’s constantly raining in your area, consider investing in backup power. And the best way to go about it is consulting with your solar contractor to see if they can recommend quality solar backups or batteries to add to the one that comes with your solar.
The backup systems will store excess solar energy on sunny days for use during the rainy season. So, you can continue enjoying your solar water heater even as it rains.
Can a Solar Water Heater Work on Cloudy Days?
Yes, they can!
The good thing about solar panels is their ability to absorb power on cloudy days. Well, not unless there is no trace of sunshine. But as long as there is occasional sunlight, no matter how dim, your solar stores that up.
The heater might not work as efficiently as it would on a typical sunny day, but you can still use it for a few tasks. Experts believe that solar heaters can comfortably generate between 10-25% of their standard power output on a cloudy day.
Just like users in rainy prone environments, it’s advisable to get extrasolar batteries and backups for cloudy days. That way, you can rest assured that you will always have hot water in your home no matter the weather.
In other words, if you live in a foggy, but with a generally warm climate throughout the year, you can opt for solar heaters. They will save you a lot of money.
Plus, you have already gathered from this article that sunlight isn’t the only way to determine the efficiency of solar water heaters. Besides, sometimes clouds magnify sunlight or reflect sunlight hence your solar will have more power to absorb.