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Future is Looking Brighter for Solar Hot Water Heating Systems

NATIONAL REPORT—Historically, owners of lodging establishments throughout the United States and Canada have ignored the sun as a source of potential energy to heat water. Whether because of concerns about cost or misperceptions about how solar thermal technology works, solar hot water heating systems are rare. That is all beginning to change, however, thanks to improving technologies, tax incentives and rebates, creative financing, better education about solar thermal heating, an increase in the number of developers interested in building to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, and an increase in the number of qualified vendors that sell and install solar hot water heating systems.

How does solar thermal energy work? If you have returned to your car and opened the door after the car has been sitting in the sun for an hour, you have experienced solar thermal energy. According to the website Solar is Future, in a typical solar hot water heating system, solar collectors absorb the sun’s rays, convert them to heat and then transfer that heat to a heat-transfer fluid. The heat-transfer fluid is typically a glycol and water mixture in regions where seasonal freezing is a concern.

“The heat-transfer fluid is then pumped into a heat exchanger located inside the water storage tank where it heats the water,” the website says. “After releasing its heat via the heat exchanger, the heat-transfer fluid flows back to the collectors to be reheated. The controller keeps the heat-transfer fluid circulating whenever there is heat available in the solar collectors. In the winter, a boiler serves as an alternate heat source. Solar thermal systems can be integrated into existing hot water systems with relative ease.”

Appropriate for Any Location
One might conclude that solar hot water heating is only an option for properties in southern locations but that is not the case. The sun generates enough energy even in northern locations to make solar thermal systems feasible. For example, the Confederation Place Hotel in Kingston, Ont., has a 20-panel rooftop solar hot water heating system and the Best Western-Kelowna in Kelowna, B.C., has a 102-panel system.

“It pretty much works anywhere, from both a technological and financial standpoint,” says Kirk Norlin, vice president marketing for Novan Solar Inc., Golden, Colo. “New England, for example, may get less direct sunlight but those living there pay more for their energy, so it makes sense.”

Norlin says 90 percent of the time roofs can bear the weight of a solar thermal structure. Adequate roof space is important and of course access to sunlight is key. A building rooftop cannot be shaded for a good portion of the day.

This article is part of an article from The Green Lodging News, download the entire article Future is Looking Brighter for Solar Hot Water Heating Systems

This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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