Common Problems of Solar Hot Water Systems

December 14, 2018

Solar water heating systems are saving their environmentally-conscious owners money all the time. Alarmingly, though, those savings can be wiped out, and it can happen fast. Just because the equipment is suffering from a repairable fault, it’s losing its energy saving edge. How frustrating is that? Very, but we can counter this headache-inducing scenario by knowing a handful of system-hampering problems. Panel capacity problems get a mention first.

Panel Capacity Issues

The reason this common problems guide is starting with the solar panels is pretty easy to work out. Those sun-loving equipment parts are large and unwieldy, and they’re often installed in hard to reach spots, such as rooftops. Inclined, that rooftop could be hard to climb. That’s why we’re starting here first, while still fresh and alert. Are the solar gatherers damaged? Is the water hot enough? The installer should align the system so that it maximizes its heat collection duties. Incidentally, if those energy collectors are aging, consider purchasing a newer, more efficient system.

Heat Transmission Puzzlers

The solar panels have been checked. They’re doing their job, providing heat, but the water is far from hot. Some equipment types use special conducting rods or coils. If those heat conducting arrays malfunction, then the energy won’t be transferred to the water. Furthermore, certain energy hampering influences can attenuate the energy transference effect. Suspended in water, floating sediment can hamper thermal transferrence coefficients. Worse yet, depending on the storage solution, the sediment may be orange-hued. If this is the case, there’s a serious corrosion problem in the system.

Heat Pump Defects

The pump volute or impeller is possibly accumulating damage. That could happen as a result of a substandard, unbranded electrical pump, but it could also indicate a deeper underlying issue. For example, the sediment or corrosion mentioned in the above passage of text will likely impact hot water circulation. Clogs propagate, the electrics in the pump accrue damage, and the equipment hobbles along until it fails entirely. That’s a worst case scenario, but it happens often enough to warrant a mention.

Picture a solar hot water system as a series of invisible linkages. The sun to Earth link comes first. Clouds hamper the heating effect, loose solar panels and poorly oriented mountings worsen the issue. Next in the chain, the solar panels and their conductor-to-water couplings could be damaged or misaligned. A heating tech will soon trace the problem. At the end of the day, though, the equipment should be inspected regularly. Even if it’s currently still providing enough hot water for an entire property and beyond, a mischievous system hampering element, such as sediment, could be at work.

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