Bathroom & Kitchen Guide

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Going Green in Your Kitchen: Solar Hot Water Systems  E-mail
Solar hot water systems are a very cost-effective method to generate the necessary hot water for your kitchen space. Such solar systems can actually be used in any type of climate as they are designed to use a free fuel – the sunshine. They include solar collectors and storage tanks. Mainly, there are 2 types of solar hot water systems: the active type which has controls and circulating pumps and the passive type which has neither of these. Most solar hot water systems will require an insulated storage tank. Such solar tanks come with additional inlet and outlet connected from and to the collector. For instance, in a two-tank system, the solar heater will preheat the water before entering the conventional heater. In the case of a one-tank system, the heater is a back-up system which is combined with the necessary solar storage in just one storage tank.

There are 3 types of solar collectors that can be successfully and effectively used for residential applications: flat-plate collectors, integral collector-storage systems and evacuated-tube solar collectors. Flat-plate glaze collectors are insulated and weatherproof boxes that come with dark absorber plates covered in plastic or glass. Unglazed collectors which are typically used for swimming pool heating come with dark absorber plates made of polymer or metal and without any enclosure or cover. Integral collector-storage systems also known as batch systems features 1 or more black tubes or tanks that come in a glazed and insulated box. In their case, cold water will first passes through a solar collector designed to preheat the necessary amount of water. Then, the water will continue on right to a conventional backup heater which provides the necessary and reliable source of hot water. Such systems must be installed only in a mild-freeze climate as their outdoor pipes are likely to freeze when exposed to colder and more severe weather conditions.
Evacuated-tube solar collectors feature several parallel rows of glass tubes – each of these glass tubes contains a metal absorber tube that is attached to a fin and an outer tube made of glass. The coating of this fin will absorb solar energy while inhibiting the possible radiative heat loss. Such solar collectors are mainly used for commercial applications. Solar hot water systems can be active or passive. There are 2 main types of active solar systems: direct circulation systems and indirect circulation systems. The direct ones use pumps in order to circulate the household water through their collectors and then into the home. Such active systems work best in climate where it seldom freezes. Indirect circulation systems use pumps in order to circulate a heat-transfer and non-freezing fluid through their collectors and their heat exchanger. The whole process will heat the necessary amount of water and then make it flow into the house. Such systems work best in a climate that is more prone to freezing temperatures.

When compared to the active solar hot water systems, the passive ones are less expensive but also less efficient. However, they are reliable enough and they can even last for a longer period of time. In their case, there are 2 main types of systems: the integral collector-storage passive ones and the thermosyphon ones. Integral collector-storage systems work best when installed in climates where temperatures seldom fall below freezing. Also, they can be used in homes that have significant evening and daytime hot-water needs. Thermosyphon systems come with a collector that is to be installed right below their storage tank in order for the warm water to rise into the tank. Such systems are quite reliable but you must pay attention to your roof design because of their heavy storage tank. Also, they are more expensive when compared to the integral collector-storage systems.

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