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Solar hot water systems are a great way to lower your energy costs as well as your carbon footprint, but you may well wonder just how to select the right model for your needs.
Here are a few of the things to keep in mind when looking at your options.
It is important to ensure your hot water system is an appropriate size to suit your household. This means thinking about how many people live in your house, and how much hot water they use.
Roughly speaking a one or two bedroom home will require a 250 litre tank with 20 – 22 tubes, a three – four bedroom house a 315 litre tank and 30 tubes, while a four bedroom or larger property will require a 400 litre tank and around 40 tubes.
Remember, most people use around 80 litres of hot water per day, according to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.
However, the size required will also vary depending on water quality and where you live, so it is best to discuss your needs with a trained agent to ensure you get the best system to suit your household.
A hot water tank that is too small will mean there is an increased chance you will run out of water. Something to consider is when water is used in your home. If everyone showers at the same time of day, for instance, it may be better to install a bigger tank.
If you use all the water in your solar hot water system, the booster will start which will cost you more as this is powered by other means, such as regular electricity.
Where you live
The region you live in can affect the efficiency of your hot water systems as they will need to work harder in a cooler climate.
However, evacuated tube solar hot water systems work no matter the climate thanks to their design.
They are made up of a series of glass tubes which have a heat pipe surrounded by a vacuum. This minimises heat loss.
This design allows the sun to hit the pipes in a perpendicular angle so heat is generated for a larger part of the day.
If you live in an area prone to frost you will want to make sure your solar hot water system is able to withstand frost. Apricus solar water systems are designed to be able to tolerate the cold winter nights experienced in parts of Australia without any damage to the system itself.
Your water quality
If you live in an area with poorer water quality it means your solar water system could become more easily corroded and could be at risk of mineral build-up.
However, you can select different materials to avoid these issues, such as copper, glass and stainless steel.
Glass models can be fitted with a sacrificial anode, or metal rod that can protect against corrosion. These should to be replaced at least every five years.
Poor water quality can also result in blocked pipes, failed pressure and temperature valves and a lower heat transfer, so it is best to take precautions where possible.
Talk to your agent if you are at all concerned about this.
Where you place the system
If you can, it is best to angle your solar tubes so they are north-facing. This way they can maximise the amount of sunshine and perform more efficiently.
When deciding on a location for your solar tubes, it is important to ensure they are set up away from trees or other objects that could create shade.
Trees can also drop leaves and other debris on the system. If they become dirty they will not be able to function as efficiently.
On really sunny days, however, it might be important to ensure the system can be shaded so that it does not overheat the water.
If possible, we recommend installing the tubes at a an angle of your latitude +10°. This will minimise the amount of summer sun and increase the amount of energy gained during winter.
For more advice on selecting the best solar hot water system for your home talk to our team Apricus Solar Hot Water Experts. Or read our article on Top 5 Tips for a more electricity efficient home design.