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So we finally finished installing our new solar hot water heater. Well, sort of. Right now the heat exchange loop is just filled with water (we checked for leaks, but I figure I'll just leave water in there for a few days). We'll need to put a propylene glycol solution in there shortly as the night-time weather is getting cold.
I must say - DAMN that system generates a lot of heat.
Very cool Mike ... keep us posted. I'm still anxious to work on my home-made solar water heater and would enjoy hearing about what you like and dislike about your set-up. (Photos????)
CinciTDI | TDIClub | My Desultory Blog
I'll take some pictures at some point. I thought about making a home-made one, but decided against it since I have so many other projects I'm working on right now also at home - still replacing the rest of the original windows with very nice fiberglass frame Marvin Infinity windows, finishing the porch I rebuilt and expanded (made of CorrectDeck composite decking, which is made about an hour north of me in Biddeford, ME, and is a composite of wood pulp from the paper mills in Biddeford and Portland mixed with recycled milk jugs (and other polypropylene - a stronger plastic than the polyethylene most composites use), prepping to install the split-ductless heat pumps, etc..
So, I went with a SolarRoofs Skyline System 5 with 80 square feet of collector area (which should produce a year-round average of about 60 gallons of water heated to 120 F, if I remember the results of my calculations correctly). The solar system heats an 80 gallon Rheem tank, which feeds heated water to the 40 gallon "SuperStor" tank that we installed a year or so ago (which is heated by our boiler). In the spring, summer, and fall, we should be able to shut the boiler off. In the winter, the boiler will be needed more, and the solar system will primarily pre-heat water before the boiler heats it the rest of the way.
Overall, the Skyline system is fairly nice, in particular a decent system as far as ease of install by someone who doesn't do this for a living. I would prefer a better control system, but since it uses a PV powered pump, it doesn't use a sophisticated one (just a thermal switch to shut the pump off if the water in the tank gets too hot), and a thermal-switched mixing valve to keep the water coming out of the tank from being scalding.
How many kwh do you reckon you get out of it, and how much do you need for heating.
I was thinking that we might install solar water panels in the garden, to avoid working on the roof, and build a sort of wooden stable for it as an attractive feature however the solar panels need angling which would be aesthetically undesirable.
The other thing I was considering was a waste heat reclammation device on the waste water outlet to preheat the water inlet. One claims 70-80% efficiency using a thin film copper they claim, and this could maybe halve our energy consumption for heating water. That may mean a 4 m2 set up of vacuum tubes (expensive) might get us 16kwh/day and we might only need about 4kwh for the shower. Our aim would ideally be to get the home efficiency up to the point where we can eliminate all heating by gas.
But it would need a lot of solar panels and efficiency in winter. Cheaper panels is very much needed, as is the potential to raise the water between 40-60 degree C which I would assume would be easily acheived with a larger array.