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Solar Thermal 101: Main Components of a Solar Hot Water System

This is the first in a series of posts written by Free Hot Water’s co-founder and senior mechanical engineer, Gal Moyal. We’ll be posting this series every Wednesday, so please make it a date. Some of the information in future posts may be very technical, but if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us. We sincerely want to help. If you would like to have a more hands-on experience, explore our certified Free Hot Water training courses.  –Solar Fred.

The Main Components of a Solar Hot Water System

Solar collector panel. Mounted on your roof, the collector captures the heat from the sun and transfers it to the liquid circulating through the panel.  Sometimes this liquid is water, but it can also be a special type of fluid that eventually transfers the heat to your home’s storage tank through a heat exchanger.  See below.

Storage Tank. The heater storage tank is your home’s current boiler/ hot water heater. The heated water captured by the solar collector panel is stored in the tank for later use.

Heat exchanger. The heat exchanger transfers the heat energy captured by the solar collector panel to the potable water that is stored in the heater tank. In our system, the heat exchanger is external to the solar storage tank.

Expansion Tank. The expansion tank ensures that the system’s pressure does not exceed the pressure limits set by the system designer.

Control system. The control system consists of a controller and the circulating pump. The controller compares the temperature difference between the heat exchanger exit point and the solar collector’s exit point. When the collector panel’s temperature is higher than the heat exchanger’s temperature, the controller turns on the pump and circulates the liquid through the system until the temperature is equalized, and then turns the pump off.

Solar Hot Water Active System Design (click to enlarge)

Contact Free Hot Water to design a solar hot water system that’s appropriate for your home or business for numerous applications.

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