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Solar Water Heaters
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Solar water heaters are a simple, reliable, and cost-effective way to harness the sun's energy to provide the energy needs of a home. New technologies help to make solar water heaters an affordable and efficient heater for all climates. Solar energy systems typically have a high initial cost, but you will be sure to earn that money back in savings due to extremely low operating costs. As far as tank size is concerned, the same factors that contribute to a traditional heater, apply to a solar water heater.

There are two main solar water heater systems; active systems and passive systems.
An active system is one where fluid is actively pumped from the storage tank through the collectors and back into the tank. Passive systems do not use pumps or other electrical components, thus providing a simple and reliable system. The most common passive systems are the thermosiphon.

Active and passive systems can be divided into direct systems, indirect systems, down drain systems, and thermosiphon. Down drain systems are used in colder climates and thermosiphon systems are used in warmer climates. In addition, there are several different types of solar energy collectors as well.

In certain cases, a solar water heater can work in conjunction with a conventional water heater. The water is first stored in the conventional heater and the water is warmed. Cold water then goes to the solar power heater and this water is heated. The home will function off of the water stored in the solar water heater, unless it is not hot enough. If the water needs to be warmed up more, the conventional heater will kick in and make up the difference.

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