Evacuated tubes use a glass tube with a vacuum inside and copper pipes running through the centre. The copper pipes are all connected to a common manifold which is then connected to a slow flow circulation pump that
pumps water to a storage tank below, thus heating the hot water during the day. The hot water can be used at night or the next day due to the insulation of the tank.
The evacuation tube systems are superior as they can extract the heat out of the air on a humid day and don't need direct sunlight. Due to the vacuum inside the glass tube, the total efficiency in all areas is higher and there's better performance when the sun is not at an optimum angle - such as when it's early in the morning or in the late afternoon.
Heating up water accounts for a good chunk of a home's energy use. It's a near-constant need -- we use hot water for showers, laundry, washing dishes -- and it adds up.
There are greener options out there. Both high-efficiency and tankless water heaters can cut back on energy
use. But solar is on another level. It's about as green as hot water can get. A solar water heater is typically used in conjunction with a traditional heater, since weather affects solar hot-water production. The traditional heater
supplements the solar heater. Adding a solar water heater to a water-heating system can reduce energy bills and corresponding CO2 emissions by 50 percent -- sometimes even more, depending on where you live.
When a tankless water heater senses the demand for water flow, such as turning on a faucet or a shower, the unit begins heating water as it passes through the heat exchanger. Because there is no need for a storage tank (which has a limited supply of hot water) you get an endless supply of hot water with a tankless water heater, even if you need if for multiple tasks—such as doing laundry, washing dishes or showering—at the same time. When water flow ceases, the tankless water heater shuts down, therefore using less energy by not incurring the “standby loss” associated with tanks.
Water heaters are familiar fixtures in most homes. They typically look like big metal cylinders, tall drums that are often consigned to a laundry room or basement. Newer styles have some interesting features, like losing the tank completely in favor of water-on-demand, but the old, reliable water heater design that's most widely used in Canada today is really a pretty simple appliance; it's basically a drum filled with water and equipped with a heating mechanism on the bottom or inside. Even though they lack drama and complexity, water heaters are still pretty amazing.
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