The biggest challenge we face in Africa today is high electricity bills and unreliable power supply that is detrimental to our economic development. For this reason, solar energy is the new frontier and more developers opt to use this type of energy in homes as well as for commercial use because of its efficiency, reliability and affordability.
Sadly, in the global map, Africa still lags behind in electricity access but the good news is that African countries are now seeking new ways to boost power output by tapping into solar energy. According to Chloride Exide, solar water heaters have the ability to reduce electricity bills at home by 65%. This is mostly by saving the energy that would have otherwise been used to heat water through electricity.
The challenge, however comes when choosing the right solar equipment. Most of the time, solar water heaters do not last as long as they should, not because they are not genuine but because the wrong systems are used for the wrong purposes. Here is a highlight of factors to consider when purchasing a solar water heater:
Source of Water
Water comes in two categories; soft and hard, therefore it is necessary to know where your water comes from and which type it is. It is essential to know this while choosing a solar water heater because soft and hard water have different mineral capacities therefore each uses a different heating system, either direct or indirect heating system. Soft water is heated directly by the solar heater collector while hard water uses the indirect system of heating where a fluid is heated by the solar panel and this fluid in turn heats the water. Hard water has stronger mineral components that can cause corrosion and blockages in the collector tubes when heated directly from the solar panel and this can render the system dysfunctional.
Type of the solar system and the functionality
There are two types of solar collectors; Flat Place Collectors (FPC) and the Evacuated Tube Collector (ETC). The FPCs are made out of metals, mostly copper and/or aluminum while ETCs are made out of glass. FTCs are more suited for tropical climates due to their high levels of conduction and emission of heat. They however are poor heat retainers in low temperatures. FTC is durable, robust and easy to install and maintain. ETCs on the other hand are delicate and have higher heat retention in both high and low temperatures. Since they are made of glass, they are quite delicate and should be handled with care during installation and maintenance.
Solar water heaters can also be either hybrid or non-hybrid. Hybrid systems come installed with electric heating element in the storage tank to provide heating during down times of the solar energy. The non-hybrid systems do not incorporate a heating element.
Another important factor to look into when buying a solar water heater is the plumbing work that it will require. Most people go wrong in the plumbing work especially in the two-way piping. The two-way piping is where hot and cold water pipes are connected to the house, one for hot water and another for cold water. Solar water heaters are mostly used for bathroom purposes, something that most people overlook. However, solar water can also be used in the kitchen but it will require a different form of plumbing because kitchen requirements tend to consume more water compared to bathroom, so to avoid wastage of heat, proper plumbing needs to be done for the proper purposes.
Installation and maintenance
Buying a solar water heater is one thing and installation is another thing altogether. The efficiency of your solar heater is highly dependent on how it is installed and the kind of maintenance it is given. Ensure you get your solar heaters from reputable companies like Merculex Energy which also offers professional installation and frequent maintenance services. Merculex also offer after sale services like quick and timely troubleshooting responses to clients.
Type of Tank
Apart from just choosing the capacity of water that the tank can hold, when thinking of purchasing and installing a solar water heater, ensure that the tank used to hold the water is able to withstand the heat and most importantly to retain the same. Recommended tanks should be thick and be able to retain heat for about 60-72 hours. It must also have a food safety standard to ensure the stored water does not have a foul smell. To avoid corrosion caused by hard water, the tanks should be coated with enamel.
There is an emerging trend of using new technology in almost everything and more people are looking towards investing in reliable equipment. The water heating products at Merculex Energy are able to withstand both hard and soft water hence their durability. Merculex Energy technicians do a thorough survey for clients before recommending the type of solar water heater