solar water heater: northern regions

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by WisJim, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They work fine in Wisconsin, but I have on experience with solar hot water farther north. Solar hot water is the way to go to use solar energy with a faster payback than solar electric or wind electric, as long as you can locate the panels close to where the water will be used (less than 100', preferably a lot less!) and the sun will shine on them most of the day, especially before and after noon.

    Home Power Magazine has had a number of good articles in the last couple of years about solar hot water.
     
  2. pickapeppa

    pickapeppa Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jim. Is a supplemental heating source necessary, or does it supply all of your needs? We have a family of 4, and I cook at home most of the time, so lots of dishes. We really only need hot water for showers and dishes. I use cold to do the laundry.
     

  3. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ours is just supplemental, but we don't have good sun directly on the house, and don't really have enough storage. My son helped install a new system further north of us, and they have hot water for 3 days with around 100 gallons storage. Of course the tank is well insulated and there are just 2 people, I think. I would recommend having some kind of supplemental way of heating the water, just in case you either have lots of cloudy weather, or lots of company. you could use a regular water heater for the solar storage, and not turn it on most of the time.
     
  4. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    I have real world experience with a solar water heater, but not in the north. I did need to protect it from the infrequent low temperatures as low as 10 degrees, though.
    It is a "batch heater". Basically, it is 2 electric water heater tanks painted black enclosed in a well insulated box. the inside of the box is lined with mylar (aluminum foil) The top of the box is a double pane window. Instead of being a flat topped box, though, the top is angled at 45 degrees toward solar south. the box is nestled next to the house on the south side. there is a well insulated lid that can be closed over the window at night to prevent heat loss. the tank is plumbed in line with the hot water system in the house. The heating elements in the tank are left intact and wired, so you can turn the heater on for hot water in the event it's cloudy for days in a row. You can also turn it on to prevent it from freezing in the event it's both cloudy and below freezing for days in a row. Plumbing needs to run through the back wall of the batch heater into your crawl space or basement to prevent those pipes from freezing.
    Mine provides all the hot water i need in the summer. I haven't had it through the winter yet. Mine is actually set up a bit differently and is on the roof. I spent about 600 or 800 on it and spent quite a bit of time building it. I started with a set of plans. If you'd like a copy, pm me and I'll get them to you. Or i could email you a few pictures of the building process and the finished thing so you can think about it.
    ray