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Water Heating - Using Solar Energy to heat water - Solar Technology

    Solar Panels are a clean, renewable source of electrical power that can save you money and help the environment

    Solar hot water systems use sunlight to heat water. Commercial solar water heaters began appearing in the United States in the 1890s. These systems saw increasing use until the 1920s but were thereafter gradually replaced by relatively cheap and more reliable conventional heating fuels. The economic advantage of conventional heating fuels has varied over time resulting in periodic interest in solar hot water; however, solar hot water technologies have yet to show the sustained momentum they lost in the 1920s. That being said, the recent price spikes and erratic availability of conventional fuels is renewing interest in solar heating technologies.

    As of 2005, the total installed capacity of solar hot water systems is 88 GWth and growth is 14% per year. China is the world leader in the deployment of solar hot water systems with 80% of the market. Israel is the per capita leader in the use of solar hot water with 90% of homes using this technology. In the United States heating swimming pools is the most successful application of solar hot water.

    Solar water heating is highly efficient (up to 86%) and is particularly appropriate for low temperature (25-65 C) applications such as domestic hot water, heating swimming pools and space heating. The oldest and simplest type of solar water heater is a black water tank which is exposed to the sun. These are called batch systems but there are many other configurations. Some configurations are designed to heat water to high temperatures while other are designed for economy.

    A solar pond is a pool of salt water that collects and stores solar energy. Solar ponds were first proposed by Dr. Rudolph Bloch in 1948 after coming across reports of a lake in Hungary in which the temperature increased with depth. This effect was due to salts in the lake's waters which created a "density gradient" that prevented convection currents. A prototype was constructed in 1958 on the shores of the Dead Sea near Jerusalem. The pond consisted of layers of water that successively increased from a weak salt solution at the top to a high salt solution at the bottom. This solar pond was capable of producing temperatures of 90 C in its bottom layer and had an estimated solar to electric efficiency of 2%. Current, representatives of this technology include a 150 KW pond in En Boqeq, Israel, and another used for industrial process heat at the University of Texas El Paso.

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