The UK isn’t the only country to take advantage of solar power as a way to heat our homes and hot water. The US is also keen on making the most of this method. While the solar panels are pretty much the same between countries, the way the sun is used to heat water is different, as you are about to see.
In the UK, we use a type of collector to heat the water when there is enough sun to do so. In both countries a boiler will still be required to make sure there is hot water all year round. The winter months traditionally don’t produce enough sunshine to heat the water sufficiently.
In the US though, a solar power water heater will come in one of two types – both active and passive systems are used. The active systems come in both direct and indirect options. The indirect one is better suited to areas where the temperatures are likely to drop near to or below freezing during the winter months, as they have the addition of a heat exchanger. The direct one simply takes water from the home, pumps it through the collectors and back again, without the need of a heat exchanger. This is perfect in warmer parts of the US.
As for the passive systems, there is a collector storage version and a thermosyphon version. These are more complex and more expensive, and it is generally the active systems that are better suited for individual homes.
As you can see, solar power heating is far simpler in the UK than it is in the US. For the most part, the UK will have colder winters and less reliable weather than parts of the US will. Even though America does not have wonderful weather across all its states, some parts – namely the southeastern corner – will have a far higher potential for solar energy than others. In contrast, the UK will typically have less in the way of solar energy potential.
This is why there are differences between the types of solar power water heater you will find in both the UK and the US respectively. However they all have the same target – to provide more hot water that is heated by the sun, so we can make the most of this amazing resource.
This article was written by guest contributor Lenka of SolarPanels.co.uk