Stay Warm in the Winter with Solar Thermal
Solar thermal collectors directly capture the sun’s energy as heat and transfers it to a storage tank in your home.
Unlike solar photovoltaic panels which use semiconductors to turn sunlight into electricity, solar thermal collectors are relatively simple devices. They work by using a dark colored collector to absorb the sun’s rays. The collector warms up, and the heated fluid inside travels along a loop to a heat exchanger that transfers the heat into a storage tank. A system like this can supply the hot water needs for a home, and can also be used for radiant space heating.
With a hydronic radiant in-floor heating system, your solar hot water can be used to heat your home. Many hydronic systems use the same system to heat both the fluid for the in-floor heat and the hot water supply. This allows solar energy to supply all of your heating needs!
Does Solar Thermal Work in Winter?
Yes! However, it can be less efficient than it is during the summer months. For this reason you will likely need to utilize your auxiliary heater, as the solar thermal system will not contribute the same amount of energy as in the more temperate months.
A well-maintained, high-quality solar water heating system will typically last for 20 years. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your system and keep long-term maintenance costs down.
Researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center have suggested that approximately 2% of the cost of your system should be budgeted for maintenance every year. Most manufacturers and installers suggest having a site inspection by a contractor every two to three years. If you use a system that circulates an antifreeze fluid, the fluid should be changed out at least once every 5 years. Some installers will provide maintenance service contracts that include regular inspections and servicing, but you may find a better quote from a different contractor.
Why is solar thermal less efficient in winter?
Solar thermal systems use energy from the sun to heat water for your home. During the winter months there is less sunlight available to harness for its solar energy, especially at points where the days are shorter or skies are overcast.
Heavy snow can also cause a potential reduction in output. Flat plate collectors, like the ones manufactured by SunEarth, are usually able to cope with snowy conditions as light that is able to pass through the snow will heat the absorber plate - causing the snow to slide off.
Can solar thermal panels freeze?
A solar thermal system should not freeze over winter. This is because indirect or closed loop systems work by pumping a solution (glycol) containing antifreeze through the collector. This solution then flows through a heat exchanger to heat up the water for use in your home, so no cold domestic water flows through the collectors themselves, eliminating the risks of freezing.
How do solar water heaters work in rainy seasons?
Your solar heating system will be 100% water proof, meaning it will work perfectly fine even in the wettest of weather. In order for a solar hot water heater to work and provide you uninterrupted water at a decent temperature that you can use you need two things – a constant supply of water, and a little bit of sun. You will be surprised at how little sun you need to get your water to temperature – modern systems are extremely efficient.
Contact us for more information or to discuss how solar hot water can upgrade your home’s efficiency.