Important Factors for DIY Solar Water Heating Systems

To fully maximize your DIY solar heating systems, you must know the right tilt angle and orientation.  These two factors are important to ensure that your solar collectors receive the maximum amount of solar energy throughout the year, especially during winter when sunlight is limited.  These two factors should be taken into consideration during the planning stages so your setup will take up less space; it could lower the total cost as well.

The right tilt angle for DIY solar heating systems depends on your location.  If you’re in the northern hemisphere, your solar collectors should be titled toward the south.  The tilt angle must be at least 15 degrees plus the latitude of the site of installation.  This is the ideal setup to get the maximum sunlight throughout the year.

Most homeowners don’t consider the tilt angle at all and install the solar collectors of their DIY solar heating system directly on their roof, thus conforming to their roof’s inclination.  Setups such as these are not optimized, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad because solar collectors that are within 20 degrees in either direction don’t suffer that much loss.  If you tilt them 15 degrees northward, water will not overheat during summer and water will be hotter during winter.  The opposite will occur when you tilt the solar collectors southward because water overheats in summer and colder water during winter.

It is ideal if the tilt angle can be adjusted according to season, but aesthetically it will be unattractive because of the additional metals and joints needed for the setup.  Plus it would add maintenance work on the DIY solar heating system that most homeowners don’t want.

Orientation of solar collectors of your DIY solar heating system should be toward true south.  Veering off 15 degrees from true south is forgivable since the systems can still receive most of the solar energy. Beyond this, the effectiveness of your collectors will diminish.

If you can’t orient your solar collectors pointing to true south and must choose between west-biased or east-biased, go toward the west.  The collectors of your DIY solar heating system will be exposed to more heat because of the increased temperatures during the afternoons.

Lastly, inspect the location of your DIY solar heating system since there might be shadows that can affect the amount of heat absorbed by your solar collectors.  Make sure that you place them in an area unobstructed from 9 a.m. up to 3 p.m., as this is the period when the maximum amount of sunlight shines.

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