Solar water heating isn’t something new in South Africa. In fact, it’s one of the first steps people take towards transforming their homes into a more energy efficient setting. As all South Africans know by now, the geyser takes an immense amount of energy and at the very least it’s responsible for 30 to 50 percent of the electricity bill. But with a flat-plate water heating system you’ll be reducing the cost significantly, whether you use a backup storage tank or not. If you are interested in getting a flat-plate collector, this is what you can expect. As an interesting side-note, a cheap solar geyser system typically uses a flat-plate collector.
How does Flat-Plate Solar Water Heating Work
Flat-plate collectors are as simple as they come and they capture the energy from the sun. There are different designs, but for the most part they use heat transfer fluid. Once cold water has been collected in the storage tank, the flat-plate collector starts looping the fluid through the cold water and heats it up. But this only happens after the radiation energy has been transformed into thermal energy through the collector. After the fluid has been heated it will start to circulate. The collector plate consists of a copper sheet and tubing. The surface is coated with a dark material, specifically to increase absorbency efficiency. The collector is also very well insulated in order to prevent heat from escaping. The heat transfer fluid is usually a mixture of water and Glycol. Even for a cheap solar geyser setup the panel is incredibly efficient.
Why are Flat-Plate Solar Water Heating Systems so Popular?
The one thing everyone aims for is cutting down on expenses, which is what makes flat-plate collectors so popular. But here is a short list that highlights that benefits associated with these specific panels.
- Readily available in several different designs
- Cost effective in terms of purchasing and installation
- A good track-record for heating water
- Reduces energy consumption for an average household with up to 50%
- One collector can heat between 200 and 400 litres of water per day depending on the weather
- It’s durable
- Virtually maintenance free
What do Flat-Plate Collectors Cost?
The price of the flat-plate solar water heating collector is going to depend on two main factors, namely the size and the design. For a smaller collector (1.7 x 1.7 meters) from a reputable manufacturer, you can expect to pay anything in the region of R4000. Slightly bigger collectors (2 x 2 meters) the prices average between R4500 and R4700. For a large flat-plate collector (3 x 3 meters) the price will be in the region of R6500. Once again, the manufacturer and the efficiency of the collector are going to vary, so only use these prices as a general average. Currently the flat-plate solar collector is probably the most popular choices due to their lower prices and efficiency, which is why they are used with cheap solar geyser systems.