Greg Pahl explains how you can save money using a solar hot water system for your homestead, includes solar shopping tips, types of solar heaters and real-life solar applications.
Solar doesn't have to be unsightly: At Inn Serendipity, a bed-and-breakfast in Browntown, Wisconsin, three 4-by-8-foot flat-plate collectors sit comfortably on the south-facing rooftop. They provide up to 70 percent of the home's domestic hot water needs by using a solar hot water system.
PHOTO: JOHN IVANKO
Flat-plate collectors are most commonly used in residential solar hot water systems.
COURTESY US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Solar hot water systems can be used wherever the sun shines, although their efficiency depends on the amount of solar energy received.
The solar collectors on this home, owned by Aspen, Colorado's Community Office of Resource Efficiency, provide more than half of its domestic hot water.
ASPEN COMMUNITY OFFICE OF RESOURCE EFFICIENCY
Ten 4-by-10-foot flat-plate collectors heat a straw bale greenhouse at Inn Serendipity in Browntown, Wisconsin. The panels provide 240,000 BTUs of heat each day, heating 700 gallons of water contained in storage tanks. Coupled with R-43 straw bale walls, the solar hot water heating system keeps the greenhouse toasty warm, even in the depths of a Midwestern winter.
Active, closed-loop solar hot water systems use a heat- transfer fluid, like antifreeze, to absorb heat. Pipes carry the warmed fluid to the storage tank, where a double-walled heat exchanger allows the transfer of the heat from the fluid to the stored domestic water.