Forced Circulation Systems

To keep things simple, we'll divide the heater into its three major parts: (1) the collector loop, (2) the hot water loop, and (3) the thermostatic controls. Then, we'll trace the flow of antifreeze fluid from the storage tank (beginning at the very base of the collector loop), to the collectors and back through the heat-exchanger coil. Next, we'll follow the path of the water, beginning at the cold water supply, as it goes through the solar storage tank and existing hot water tank, to the house itself. Finally, we'll explain how the control system operates.

Now let's talk about forced-circulation systems, specifically, in detail. Actually, we've been discussing them all along, since much of what's been said so far leads up to the design in Figure 86. But remember that Figure 86 represents only a suggested system. It may be more elaborate (and costly) than you want, and it may not suit your house — either old or new — exactly.

It's safe to say that you probably will have to make some minor modifications. For instance, you may decide, after reading the last chapter, that you don't need a circulation pump at all, in which case your system will not be "forced." Even if you decide that a thermosyphon system will work for you, you may choose to include some of the controls and other gadgets mentioned here.

In many ways Figure 86 represents all of the best elements of sound solar water heating technology at the present time. At first glance it looks complicated and confusing, but it's not — once you break it down and understand what's going on.

Each of the component parts — with the exception of the absorber plate and the special solar storage tank — is a standard, time-tested plumbing element that should be sitting on a shelf in your local plumbing supply outlet. There's no more need to lose sleep over the possibility of your system's failing than there's need to worry about a breakdown in your regular household plumbing. That's because basically a forced-circulation solar hot water heater is regular household plumbing.

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