Solar water heating
Solar water heating (SWH) systems consist of a solar collector, a hot water cylinder, and accessories such as a controller, pump, and pipework. The sun heats up a liquid (usually a water/anti-freeze mixture) in the collector, which is then pumped through a heat exchanger coil in the hot water cylinder, thereby heating up the water.
The collector is usually mounted on a southerly-facing roof. A four square metre collector is usually sufficient to provide most of the hot water for a three-bedroom home during spring, summer and autumn, with a conventional gas boiler or electric immersion heater providing for any shortfall.
SWH systems require little maintenance, but a visual check should be carried out annually; the system pressure should be checked and re-adjusted if necessary. Antifreeze in the collector circuit should be changed every 5 years and collectors should be cleaned as and when required.
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