Solar Systems

Solar systems include both electricity-generating solar panels and solar water-heating units. Setting up a home with solar systems is surprisingly easy, although it is quite expensive. Nevertheless, the reduction in utility bills can be massive, ultimately paying for the solar system’s installation costs. Any excess electricity your solar panels generate can be sold back to the electricity grid for profit.

Solar Systems photo
Photo by A Siegel

But we will dedicate this page to the intricacies of planning solar water heating. When choosing a solar water heating system, you will need to consider a number of factors — including your average hot water usage, the area of south-facing roof, the existing water heating system, and your budget. You will need roughly one square meter of collector area per person in the household. Each meter of panel area will need between 30 and 60 liters (8 and 15 gallons) of water tank volume.
If you use a less efficient collector (such as flat-plate solar water heating panels), you will need to cover a larger area than if you use a more efficient collector (such as evacuated tubes). You’ll also need to select system components (such as a hot water cylinder, controls and pipe work) and choose the location for your panels, taking into consideration the amount of shade, the length of pipe runs, the roof pitch, and the need for future access.

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