Solar Hot Water Systems
A solar hot water heating system uses the sun to heat your home's water for laundry, showers, dishwasher etc. The solar panels installed to heat your home's water are entirely different from the solar panels installed to provide your home's electricity.
The proper installation of solar water heaters depends on many factors. These factors include solar resource, climate, local building code requirements, and safety issues; therefore, it's best to have a qualified, solar thermal systems contractor install your system.
After installation, properly maintaining your system will keep it running smoothly. Passive systems don't require much maintenance. For active systems, discuss the maintenance requirements with your system provider. Plumbing and other conventional water heating components require the same maintenance as conventional systems. Glazing may need to be cleaned in dry climates where rainwater doesn't provide a natural rinse. Regular maintenance on simple systems can be as infrequent as every 3–5 years, preferably by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part or two after 10 years.
Types of Solar Water Heaters
There are two basic types of Solar Water Heaters: Passive Solar Water Heaters (for warm climates) & Active Solar Water Heaters (for moderate and cold climates). Active systems utilize a circulating pump and some type of temperature control. Passive systems do not have any moving parts and rely on the basic principle of physics - that hot water rises & cold water falls.
Active systems all function basically the same; however, there are different configurations depending on your climate zone. Passive systems come in two basic types: Thermosyphon & Batch. Each system has its distinct advantages.