Frequently Asked Questions
What is solar heating?
Solar heating is the process of concentrating the energy from the sun into a source of heat for various applications in everyday life, such as space heating and providing hot water.
Typically a solar collector is used to heat a fluid which is pumped to another location where a heat exchanger is used to transfer this heat to a storage tank, like an existing hot water tank or boiler. Cold incoming water passes through the heat exchanger before it reaches the hot water tank, absorbing heat from the solar fluid as it runs through the opposite side of the exchanger. This preheats the water, which lowers the amount of energy needed to bring it up to the desired temperature for daily use.
What are solar evacuated tubes?
The evacuated tube design used by Eclipse was originally developed in the 1980’s and has proven to be extremely robust. The tubes are made of borosilicate glass that is sealed with a strong vacuum inside that acts as an insulator. The inner section is coated with an absorbent layer to attract heat which is trapped inside by a UV coating and reflective sheet. Because a vacuum is such a good insulator, the temperature inside the tube can be over 230° Celsius on a sunny day and the exterior surface is cold enough to pick up with your bare hands.
How does the solar evacuated tube collector system work?
Fins help to concentrate thermal energy to the surface of a heat pipe. The heat pipe is also a vacuum tube with a small amount of fluid inside. This fluid vaporizes at around 32° Celsius due to the low pressure. When liquids vaporize they give off a large amount of heat, and the heat pipe takes advantage of this by transferring to a nub at the top. This nub plugs into the manifold where the heat transfer fluid (usually glycol/water mix for northern climates) flows past it, absorbing the heat and sending it to the storage tank. A control pump with temperature sensors is used to run the system when the sun is out and the collectors are producing heat. Hot water that is stored in the tank is constantly cycled until either the sun is gone or the tank reaches its maximum set temperature and the heat dump cycle is turned on to get rid of the excess heat and keeping the system from being damaged.
Are there similar products that can collect solar heat?
Yes, there are. However, for our climate in Canada, evacuated tubes are superior due to their vacuum. This allows them to work well in very cold sunny days in the winter. Flat plate solar collectors can be used, but they don’t perform as well during the winter so they are better suited for warmer climates like the west coast or for seasonal use on cabins. The greatest weakness of flat plate collectors is that if they break from thermal expansion the system does not work and you must replace the entire unit, which is very costly. If a tube breaks or is defective, our system still works and is cheap and easy to fix with replacement tubes only costing about $30.
Aren’t solar heating systems expensive?
No, they are FREE! Sure there’s an upfront cost, but over a short time it will not only pay for itself, it will also increase the value of your home. Eclipse also offers financing plans to make solar more affordable for you.
Just think, if your current solar heating system was installed today, under 10 years it’s paid for, and you’ll be saving a minimum of 60% of your heating costs. And that is on the current utilities cost today. Just think of what that will mean when your rates start climbing. Because you know… they always will!
What are the benefits of having a solar heating system?
The benefits of solar water heating are numerous and considerable.
- Save money – return on investment in under 10 years
- Increases the value of your home
- Low maintenance
- Save 60% or more of your bills
- Reduce CO2 emissions
- 20 year life expectancy
- 5 year product warranty
- Corporate tax write-off
- Points towards LEED certification
- All solar units are manufactured under ISO, SRCC, CSA, UL and/or CE specifications
- Solar powered hot water systems utilize solar energy to heat water. 60% to 70% of water used domestically for temperatures as high as 60° Celsius can be produced by solar heating.
- Thermal storage systems can store solar energy in the form of heat by using common materials with high specific heat such as stone, earth and water. Solar energy can be stored also in molten salts.
- Approximately 52% of the visible sunlight is radiation in the form of heat that a solar collector can utilize.
- Solar thermal systems can be integrated with existing heating systems (electric, natural gas, propane, bio-diesel, wood burner, etc.).
- Solar water heating has 4 to 5 times the energy effectiveness of using photovoltaic (PV) panels.
- Solar heating systems reduce CO2 production by two tons or more for a single family home.
- Can be used for hot water, space heating, pool and hot tub heating.
- Large scale systems for commercial operations can produce over 1,000,000 BTU per hour in full sunlight.
- Solar evacuated tubes can reach over 200° Celsius even when it’s -20° Celsius outside.