A roof does not necessarily have to be orientated exactly to the south
in order to serve as a mounting surface for solar collectors. Variations
from southern orientation of up to 30° lead to only low losses. Even
absolute east or west orientation can be offset through the use of a corresponding
larger collector surface. A roof's slope can even be between 20° and
60°, whereby a solar heating system with less slope has a higher energy
yield in summer, and one with more slope has a higher energy yield in
winter. Special stands are recommended for flat roofs.
Smart Dimensions a must
Properly dimensioned solar heating systems offer the best guarantee
for satisfactory operation. Knowing a household's hot water
consumption is required when finding the proper dimensions but one
should also take into consideration the possibilities of lower consumption.
For these questions, the advice of a specialist is recommended. A
tip for deciding the dimensions for a small solar heating system:
daily hot water consumption of 50 litres per person (at 45° C)
yields a collector surface of
1.2 m² by 1.5 m² per person for flat plate collectors and 1m²
for tub collectors.
Choose a Suitable System
Two circuit indirect systems with controlled circulation are most
predominant in Germany. These use heat-transfer fluid that is transported
by pumps to the hot water storage tank. Once there, the solar heat
is transmitted from the heat transfer fluid to the potable water
through a heat exchanger. In order to protect solar heating systems
from freezing damage, there is a water-antifreeze mixture in the
circulation pipes, and, due to separate circuits, the heat-transfer
fluid and the domestic water do not mix. The heated potable water
can then flow to the hot-water faucets. In comparison, one circuit
systems heat water directly in the collector (usually in countries
without danger of freezing).
In thermo siphon systems the regulator and the solar circulation
pumps are not necessary because of convection: The solar radiation
heats the heat-transfer fluid, its density then decreases as its
temperature increases. The fluid becomes lighter and rises inside
the circulation pipes. Therefore, a pump is not necessary. In order
for such a system to function, however, the water tank must be installed
above the collector.
Two circuit, indirect system with controlled
Hot Water Storage Tank and Heat Exchanger
The purpose of the hot water storage tank is to stockpile energy
for days with poor solar radiation. Its volume capacity should be
1.5 to 2 times more than the daily hot water consumption - that
means a minimum of 50-80litres better is 80- 100 litres per person.
Through out you existing copper tank those
tanks are big energy wasters. Purpose build enamelled steel tanks are normally
used in solar instalations,such as those known from
conventional heating technology. They need a magnesium-or an external
current-anode for corrosion protection. Stainless steel storage
tanks have a longer life expectancy, but are more expensive.
Good solar storage tanks have a slim, cylindrical form in order
to develop a layering of temperature in the tank. This allows for
optimal usage of the heated potable water in the upper storage region,
thus the entire contents of the tank don't need to be heated to
the desired temperature. Undesired mixing of the tank contents through
incoming cold water is prevented through a special pipe construction
or a baffle plate. The arrangement of the solar circuit heat exchanger
in the lower, colder tank area causes the solar panel to work at
a more economical level of efficiency due to the low incoming water
In order that the conventional heater does not have to reheat an
unnecessarily large volume, its heat exchanger is located in the
upper part of the tank.
Warm Water Storage Tanks with two Heat
The entire surface of the tank should be tightly fit with a layer
of insulation at least 10 centimetres thick without any gaps. To
further lower heat loss, the connections in the cold lower level
are led out only from one area.
The Solar Heat Circulation
Within the solar heat circulation, heat is transported from the collector
to the hot water storage tank. In order to minimize heat loss, the distance
from the collector to the tank should be as short as possible. For systems
in one or two family homes, copper pipes with a circumference of 15 mm
to 18 mm are enough to guarantee an optimal transportation of heat. The
pipes are sufficiently insulated with 30 mm of insulation. For pipes with
a circumference of 30 mm, the insulation should have at least the same
thickness as the pipe. The insulation must be able to withstand high temperatures,
and the outdoor section has to be UV- and weather-resistant. The following
materials are used as insulation: mineral wool, polyurethane pipe wrappers,
and foam rubber.
Mountings and safety equipment in the
The prevalent flow rate in small solar heating systems amounts
to 30 to 50 litres per hour per square meter of collector surface.
The solar circulation pump has to be able to guarantee this rate
of flow. As a general rule, conventional pumps with an electric
input between 40 W and 80 W suffice. Also, the pump should always
be installed in the colder reflux of the solar circulation system.
In this way the pump will not be exposed to high temperatures during
operation. Finally, stop valves are mounted in front of and behind
the pump, so that the entire system does not have to be emptied
when replacing a defective pump.
The typical operating pressure of solar heating systems, which can
be controlled by a manometer, lies at approximately 4 bar. The safety
valve should open at an approximately 0.3 bar triggering pressure.
With a recuperation tank, the heat-transfer fluid can be captured
and then fed back into the solar circuit through one of the refilling
taps. Thermometers fitted in forerun and reflux are used to check
the system's operation. To prevent heat loss out of the tank because
of insufficient solar radiation or at night due to convection (the
heat-transfer fluid cools in the cold collector, and through the
force of gravity, then circulates towards the storage tank) a rebound
valve is mounted in the outward flow. The expansion tank keeps the
pressure in the system stable and takes up the volume difference
of the heat-transfer fluid that is caused by the temperature difference.
For safety reasons, the volume of the expansion tank has to be sufficiently
large. It should be able to take up the entire volume of heat-transfer
fluid. The vent valve serves to ventilate the solar circuit after
it has been filled with heat-transfer fluid. It is to be mounted
on the highest part of the solar circuit.
The Solar Regulation
Often a simple controller for temperature differences is enough
to regulate a small solar heating system for water heating. Through
the use of two temperature sensors, the regulator ascertains when
the temperature in the collector discharge is higher than the temperature
of the solar circuit heat exchanger in the tank, and then it activates
the circulation pump. To start the pump, the solar regulator is
usually calibrated so that the necessary temperature difference
between the collector and tank is between 5° C and 8° C.
If this temperature difference sinks to 2° C to 3° C, then
the solar regulator will shut off the solar circuit circulation
Anticipatory Planning for Building Construction
If you are building or renovating a house, but still
cannot decide on a solar heating system, just remember that preparations
for future installation of a solar heating system can be made during
construction (ducts for two copper pipes 18' and a quintuple-core
cable from the boiler room to the roof). Stainless steel roof
hocks or brackets for mounting the collectors this will save you a lot
of work and money later.
Text and images used with permission from
the Solar Energy