Residential Solar Water Heating Systems

By | October 8, 2014

What is a Solar Water Heating System?

A solar water heater or solar domestic hot water system is a natural and easy way to generate hot water through sunlight for homes. They are cost effective and can be used during any climate condition.



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How Does a Solar Water Heating System Work?

A solar water heating system does not require fuel or gas as it works using the natural energy generated by the sun. Solar water heater consists of a water tank and a solar collector. There is enough sunlight in Canada to generate solar energy to heat water. A research says that there is enough solar energy to get about 2500 kWh of solar energy per year in Canada. There are typically two types of solar water heater used in Canada:

  • Active Solar Water Heating System
  • Passive Solar Water Heating System

Active Solar Water Heating System

Active solar water heating system uses electric pumps, valves, controllers and other equipments to pass water through water collectors. Active solar water heating system is said to be more effective than the passive system. There are two types of Active Solar Water Heating System:

  1. Direct Circulation System – Pumps installed will circulate water through the collectors and transfer it in the household for use. This type of water heating system is apt for areas with mild climate where there are fewer risks of freezing.
  2. Indirect Circulation System – This water heating system is designed for extremely cold areas or climate prone to freezing. This system pumps heat-transfer fluid through the collectors. The heat-exchanger then transfers the heat to the household water stored in tanks. The heat-transfer fluid is a non-freezing liquid made of Gycol system which avoids freezing and makes heating water easy.

Passive Solar Water Heating System

Passive solar water heating system is relatively less expensive but not as effective as active solar water heating systems. There are generally two types of passive solar water heating systems:

  • Integral Collector Storage Passive System – This system is best for households that have daytime or all day requirement of hot water.
  • Thermosyphon Systems – This system is a bit more expensive than Integral Collector storage system. A collector is installed below the tank and the water flows through the system when hot water rises and cold water settles down.

Solar energy heats water for four different applications:

  1. Drinking (portable) and washing, cleaning etc (service) in homes
  2. Drinking (portable) and washing, cleaning etc (service) in industries and commercial properties
  3. Floor heating
  4. Pools and heating water in large areas


All the applications work through collectors to gather sun’s radiation to heat water. There are three types of collectors:

  • Seasonal Collectors – Seasonal collectors are simple designed and traditionally collect heat through pipes. These collectors don’t provide much protection from freezing.
  • Flat Plate Collectors – Flat plate collectors circulate anti-freeze fluid through pipes and therefore release the collected heat.
  • Evacuated Tube Collectors – These are glass cylinders that absorb heat and reduce loss of heat.


How to Build Your Own Solar Water Heater?

Solar water heating systems can be really convenient for homes and industrial buildings to heat water. They are fabulous and save money on heating water and can be built easily. Here are various types of DIY Solar Water Heater that you can build for your home as well.

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