I actually do have a lot to do all the time, so I don’t always have time for the blog stuff. However, for those of you that are interested, The new solar collector, solar hot water heater and controller are all hooked in and run like a charm!
Sunflower Solar Hot Water heater Tank next to a 55 gallon electric hot water tank
Above, is a picture to show you the difference in size between the 132 gallon solar hot water tank (on left) and the standard 55 gallon electric hot water tank (on right). Considering that the solar hot water tank holds more than twice as much as the electric hot water tank, and it costs me nothing to heat, this is a value that was worth every penny I spent on it.
Sunflower Solar collector that heats the solar hot water heater
Above, is a picture of both the homemade solar hot water heater (wooden structure on the left) and the new solar collector for the solar hot water heater (on right). This is a distance picture just to show part of the size of the building, which is 23,000 sq. ft..
Sunflower Vacuum tube solar collector that heats water for the solar hot water heater
Above, is a close up picture of the new solar collector set up in front of the house. This unit produces a MASSIVE amount of heat and hot water. In fact, if you turn the pump off completely, and let the unit sit in normal sunlight for about 10 minutes and open the valve that I installed, you will get constant steam. This is easily able to heat 132 gallons of water (from a well) to 170 degrees in just a few hours. In fact, this unit produces so much hot water, that it CAN BE USED FOR HOT WATER BASE BOARD HEATING!! In fact, the controller unit for this is all set up for using it for heating purposes!! Needless to say, I will be getting more of these units for the purpose of heating the building by use of radiant flooring. That is going to be a 2-3 year total project, however, since I am dealing with a home that is roughly 20 times the size of a normal house.
The BRAINS of the solar hot water heater and solar collector.
This controller is, for lack of better words, INCREDIBLE!!! It controls many things, including the temperature of the water in the solar collector, the temperature of the water in the solar hot water heater, the pump, and will even control additional heating devices such as a furnace, additional pumps, and more!
Just to give you an idea how smart this controller is, when the water in the solar collector is hot enough to start heating water for the hot water tank, it automatically turns on the pump, but, it doesn’t JUST turn on the pump, it senses overall temperature changes throughout the system and adjusts the speed of the pump as needed, including shutting the pump off when it isn’t required. Big deal you say? Ok, try this one on for size. In the winter months, when the collector is sitting outside in freezing temperatures, this unit detects the temperature of the collector and the fluid in it, and if it gets too cold, the unit will reverse the pump and take small amounts of heat from the bottom of the hot water tank and send it to the collector to make sure that the liquid in the collector never freezes, and it does this with minimal loss of heat from the hot water tank.
The picture above was taken at about 6 am. You can see the temperature of the water in the tank is still 132 degrees. This is after a night with 18 degree temperatures outside, and the initial full tank temperature at 140 degrees (I only have the controller heating the tank to 140 degrees maximum), thus, the tank only lost 8 degrees overnight keeping the liquid in the collector from freezing. Considering the entire tank was filled with FREE hot water to begin with via the solar collector, I am not worried about a loss of 8 degrees. Especially since that is roughly 132 gallons that are still at 132 degrees, and it is more than enough to take care of everything i may need hot water for the entire day for….however, oh, yeah, it is day again…time for the unit to start heating up again….FREE!!!
In the manual for this controller, you will note that it can be used for doing hot water forced air heating, hot water baseboard heating, as well as radiant floor heating, it can turn on a boiler or furnace at a certain temperature in the event you do use it for cutting down your heating costs, and so much more. Very impressed with this controller’s abilities!
FINISHED! Solar Hot water heater and solar controller
Above, is the final look of the solar hot water tank and the solar controller. I used PEX pipe to connect these to the solar collector, which saves a lot on costs and headaches. Unit is up and working, and provides way more hot water than this family of 7 can use in a day. Oh, I guess I should also mention, for those of you that live in the Talmoon, MN area, that the wind turbine in the front yard is also producing all the power needs to run this solar unit, so in the end, there is no electric costs associated with this unit, and the hot water is all done by the sun, so, once you buy it and set it up the way I did, you don’t have any more costs for hot water at all!!
That is ultimately the way I want the entire house. Wind turbines and solar panels on the roof to create plenty of power to run the entire building, free hot water, and using a unit such as this, at least for part of the day, free heating of the house by use of solar collectors and radiant floor heating….ultimately….no costs at all. Completely self-sufficient.