Tag Archive | "solar power"

Solar Power For Heating Your Water

In a previous article I spoke about how I was convinced that it would be more economical and efficient for me to install a solar power system for heating my water instead of a system that would generate my electricity. Here is a brief explanation of the water heating system I eventually got and why it is more efficient for me.

The system for heating water that I had installed was a new system of Nordic design. It consists of a large cylindrical water tank with a series of 24 black glass tubes coming out of it. The water in the tubes gets super heated and the hot water then rises naturally up the tubes without the need for any electrical pumps and enters into the tank, the tube is then replenished by the colder water at the bottom of the tank and is heated again, and so it goes on.

So I have a large cylindrical tank of hot water on my roof… but this is NOT where my hot water comes from. There is a cold water supply that goes into the tank through a copper tube which spirals around inside the tank of hot water… the water in the tank gets so hot that it heats up the copper pipe and by the time the water comes out of the other end of the copper pipe it is literally boiling hot. It gets so hot that I had to have a mixer valve installed which makes sure that if the water is more that 60 degrees Centigrade that it gets mixed with cold water limiting it to a maximum temperature so we don’t get scalded.

The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t really matter how much water you run through the tank because it will not cool down very fast. You are not limited to one tank of water as with other solar power systems… I have seemingly unlimited hot water on tap 24 hours a day. I have drawn several bath tubs at night one after the other and still had boiling hot water to do the washing up after.

What’s more, because of the ecological design of this system, the water tank remains heated even on rainy days. It is heated by the radiation from the sun more than its heat. The only time it doesn’t heat up is when it is foggy but even then, the tank remains hot for several days. I have yet to be a day without hot water.

I was told that with the saving I would make on my fuel bills that I would be able to pay for the solar panel in about 4 or 5 years. I calculated how much I really am saving and I now know that my solar power system will have paid for itself completely within only 2 years from the time of installing it.

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Are Photovoltaic Solar Panels Cost Effective?

The installation of an alternative energy system using photovoltaic solar panels can be very expensive, In this article Im going to address some of the pros and cons of having these fitted and will try to shed some light on some of the elements needed apart from the panels themselves in order to get this running,

This system is probably one of the most common of the energy saving systems available. Photovoltaic Solar Panels are the standard large black rectangles that you often see on peoples roofs. They are made up of many small photovoltaic cells. These are special cells about 4 inches square that generate a small electrical current when exposed to the suns rays. The solar panel itself is made up of many of these joined together turning lots of small electrical currents into one large electrical current.

The main drawback with this system is that the electricity produced is DC electriciy, the same current that batteries use. The answer to this is to have what is called an inverter. This basically changes large amounts of DC electricity into small amounts of AC electricity which can be used around the house.

Another problem with this system is that it obviously doesn’t create energy at night or on cloudy days so it is most efficient when the energy it does create can be stored. This is done by using special Gel battery packs which store the electricity produced for later use.

This system can be very costly. The panels themselves are not the main cost factor here.
The Battery packs are extremely expensive and the invertors do not come cheap either.

The system as a whole needs a very large amount of solar panels to be able to produce enough power to provide for a small family household. If this type of system is installed then it is prudent to be able to have 2 or 3 days of autonomy accounted for. You will need to have an extremely large amount of batteries for this which can be extremely expensive and will require a very large storage space too. The amount of panels required would take up a lot more than the roofspace available on most houses and the cost would be astronomical . Most people who get these systems installed use them to supplement their existing power supply. This drastically reduces their electricity bills as they generate a great part of their own electricity.

You need to bear all of the above points in mind when planning the installation of your solar panels. Know that you will have the extra cost of the batteries and the inverters, try to calculate how much electricity you use and to plan for having enough batteries for 2 or 3 days of usage. With this information clear you can easily work out how much you need to spend, how much you will save and how long it will take you to amortize the investment made on your photovoltaic solar panels.

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