Is your solar hot water heater working?(Checklist included)

It is not always easy to confirm whether your solar water heater is working as well as it should and what you need to do to fix the likely problem areas in case it is not working well.

In this post, I will share with you five (5) checks you can do to confirm:

  • that your solar heater is working well
  • what to fix if it not working

Checks to confirm that a solar water heater is working well

If your solar water heater system is working well, you should expect it to pass the checks below.

Check #1. You have water flowing unrestricted when the faucets are turned on

This shows that the solar water heater piping is clear of any blockages and both the inlet, outlet
values are turned on
and working well.

If the inlet valve to the heater is turned off, then you can expect the flow of water to be lower than usual because of the lack of pressure from your supply.

On the other hand, with a closed outlet valve, you’ll have water flowing for a short time until what is left in the pipes has been drained.

Check #2. Heater supplies the expected estimated volume of hot water on a sunny day

Should you not have enough hot water after several hours of sunshine, then you need to check and clear out any of the possible causes:

  • A dirty, soiled, or damaged glass panel that reducing how much sun-light is available for heating
  • Obstacle(s) casting shadows on the solar hot water panel or solar water heater is covered (still in vacation mode)

If you have the electric heater backup option connected to your heater yet you still do not have enough hot water, then this could be because:

  • the thermostat for the electric element is set too high
  • faulty wiring or electric heater element fuse in the heating element has blown (available in some designs)

Check #3. There are no leaks on your solar hot-water system

A well-functioning solar water heater system should have no other leaks other than those from an occasionally activated temperature and pressure valve.

Not only do they result in wastage of water, leaks can damage the roof or ceiling.

Leaks may also result in a lack of enough hot water for your family.

You may find leaks in

  • damaged water supply lines
  • pressure relief valves
  • damaged seals or water tanks.

Fix the leaks by tightening loose connections, conducting repairs where there is damage or replace the damaged part(s).

Check #4. The hot water temperature is just right (Not too hot)

Hot water should just be hot enough (about 113 °F/45 °C). If it is too hot water, it can result in injury or even death.

If you have an electric element installed in the heater, check that the thermostat is set to automatically turn off heating at about (about 113 °F/45 °C ) to prevent dangerously high water temperatures.

Consult a certified electrician should you suspect faults with the electric water heating.

Check #5. Your solar hot water heater supplies hot water in the morning

If you received the expected hours of sunshine during the day and your hot-water consumption was as expected, then you should have enough hot-water in the morning for a properly sized hot-water system.

Should you experience a shortage of hot water in the morning, check that:

  • the solar system is properly installed – solar panels are at the appropriate angle for your location
  • your solar system is sized appropriately for your needs.

All in all, if your solar water heater flow is regular and unrestricted, it provides the expected volume of hot water at the right temperature with no leaks then it is working well.

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