Components of Solar Water Heater Systems

The following article looks at the components that make up a solar water heater system. The report begins with a brief explanation of how a solar water heater works. Afterwards, it discusses the components and their functions in the solar water heater system.

Solar water heaters heat water using sunlight or through solar thermal collectors. The heater systems are used in both industrial and residential applications. A collector facing the sun heats the fluid which passes into the storage system. The systems are convection-driven (passive) and pumped (active). They can use both a fluid and water, or only water.

The systems are heated by light-concentrating mirrors or directly. They can operate as hybrids or independently. The hybrids work with gas or electric heaters. If the systems are installed in large-scale, the mirrors can concentrate the sunlight into small collectors. The following are the components that are found in the solar heating systems. However, some systems may not require all these components.

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Solar collectors

The solar collectors are used for capturing and retaining radiation from the sun. The capturedradiation is converted to heat and used to heat the liquid.The types of solar collectors available are evacuated tube, batch heaters, flat plate, unglazed flat plate, and air collectors. The evacuated tube thermal collectors have the highest solar water heaters prices in Kenya, but are the most efficient.

Heat exchangers

Heat exchangers facilitate the exchange of solar heat between transfer fluids to water supplies.  An exchanger is often manufactured from copper. Copper is preferred as it is unlikely to corrode and acts a great thermal conductor. Tube in tube, shell and tube, and coil in tank are the common designs. Liquid to liquid uses transfer fluid and is the most common heat exchanger.

Transfer fluids

The transfer fluids facilitate the movement of heat from the solar thermal collectors to the warmstorage collectors. Non-toxic antifreeze fluids are used in cold climates, while water is used in warmer climates. Boiling point, freezing point and viscosity of the fluid should be considered while choosing the fluid. Viscosity determines the energy required to pump the transfer fluids.


The pumps control flow of transfer fluids through storage tanks and collectors. Pumps can either be photovoltaic (PV) or bubble pump. The bubble pump or geyser pump is fit for vacuum tube or flat panel systems.


Differential controllers sense differences in temperature between water in storage tank and water that is leaving the solar thermal collectors. It starts the system’s pump when temperature difference is 8-10 degrees Celsius and stops the pump at 3-5 degrees Celsius.

Storage tank

The storage tanks are used for storage of hot water. The tanks are mostly made of mild steel (vitreous enamel) or stainless steel. The tanks can be roof mounted (thermosiphon system) or on ground level (split system). In some cases, tank prices are not included in the overall solar water heater price in Kenya. This is because most people already have tanks in their home and only need the other parts.

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Solar water heater systems are becoming more and more popular. The systems are environment-friendly and only require sunlight as a source of energy. Most solar products are not taxed in Kenya to make them more affordable. For more information, check

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