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Types of Solar Water Heaters

Three types of solar collectors are used for residential applications:

  • Flat-plate collector

    Glazed flat-plate collectors are insulated, weatherproofed boxes that contain a dark absorber plate under one or more glass or plastic (polymer) covers. U

  • Integral collector-storage systems

    This is suitable only for mild climates. It is passive because it does not require the use of any pumps: water goes directly from cold water supply to the normal water heater. So it supplements and preheats the water only. One disadvantage is that freezing can be a problem because of the large water volume being held by the collector. If it gets too hot, this is also a problem as the collector can burst. Finally, a full collector's weight is significant and needs to be considered when placing the collector on the roof.

  • Evacuated-tube solar collectors

    They feature parallel rows of transparent glass tubes. Each tube contains a glass outer tube and metal absorber tube attached to a fin. The fin's coating absorbs solar energy but inhibits radiative heat loss. These collectors are used more frequently for U.S. commercial applications.