How Water Quality Affects Solar Water Heaters

Environmental Blog

The efficiency of any solar water heater is likely to be affected by the quality of the water to which that heater is exposed. Here is how water quality plays such an important role in the performance of a solar water heater.

What Is Meant By Water Quality?

In this case, water quality refers to the extent to which your water is affected by dissolved minerals. Most water supplies contain a variety of dissolved minerals. The most common minerals include magnesium and calcium. These minerals usually collect on any heated surface that the water contacts, such as on showerheads or on the walls of hot water tanks.

Why Are Those Minerals a Problem to Solar Heaters?

Under normal circumstances, you can use common household cleaning agents to remove the reddish or white crust formed on the surfaces where the lime scale collects. However, such approaches cannot be used in a solar water heater system because the affected parts are not readily accessible. Consequently, the lime scale will keep accumulating inside the solar water heater until the performance of that heater drops.

The efficiency of the heater drops because of the minerals forming a barrier that prevents the transfer of heat to the water. This can be compared to trying to boil a kettle of water after placing that kettle on a brick sitting on a gas burner. The brick blocks the transfer of heat from the burner to the kettle.

The result of that interference with the transfer of heat from the solar water heater to the water is that the components of the heater will wear out quickly due to the pent up heat within the heater. You will also receive water that isn't sufficiently hot for your needs, such as washing dishes in the dishwasher.

What Can Be Done About It?

You need to be sure that any dissolved minerals in the water will not adversely affect the solar water heater that you install. To do this, find out exactly how hard the water in your area is. This can be done by contacting the water department in your area. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to test the mineral content of the water that you use in your home. DIY water testing kits are also available on the market. Choose the testing method that you are most comfortable with.

Install a water softener once the water test reveals that you need to soften the water before it reaches the solar water heater. In this way, you will have protected your solar water heater system from the damaging effects of the dissolved minerals.

As you can see, you do not need to give up on using a solar water heater just because you live in an area that has hard water. Talk to a solar expert for help in dealing with hard water or any other challenge.


31 May 2016

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