UPDATE: When I woke up around 1:00pm on Thursday, the system was working. Even though the outside temp was about 60-65, the roof temp was about 120, hot enough to activate the pump when needed. I’m guessing it ran for 2-3 hours total on Thursday when the sun was highest overhead. We’ll definitely see more benefit from March-October, but it could still help a bit during the winter.
The system makes a cool gurgling sound, like a waterfall, but you can’t hear it well from the bedroom or living room.
Success! The guys from Innerline Plumbing came over on Wednesday and installed our solar water heater. It took all day for a crew of 3, but they worked hard and got it done. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for sunny weather, so I’m hoping it will get hot enough on the roof for the system to run a bit. The controller compares the roof temperature to the water tank temperature. If the roof is at least 10 degrees hotter, the pumps kick in and send water up to the roof to get heated. Naturally, it will run more in the summer , but it should run some in the winter since the roof soaks up so much heat. Here are some pictures:
Panels on the roof – water flows through tiny tubes in these black plastic panels and absorb the sun’s energy
Storage tank – This tank stores the water that flows through the solar side of the system. When the system is running, this water is very hot, so the tank and pipes are covered in insulation. The tank is in our master closet because there wasn’t room in the utility room.
Controller – This little computer compares the temperature in the existing water heater to the room temperature and turns the pumps on and off as needed.
Heat Exchanger – This black box contains heat exchangers. The solar side of the system is closed-loop, meaning it has a self-container water supply. Hot water from the solar side of the system flows down into this box, transfers the heat to metal plates, which then transfer the heat to the water that we actually use to shower and wash dishes. It flows into the bottom of our electric water heater so it doesn’t have to run as much.