Solar water heater technology has come a long way in the hundred or so years that it has been around. From their earliest beginnings as little more than water tanks painted black and exposed to the sun, solar water heaters have evolved into highly efficient systems that can compete comfortably with fossil fuel boilers and furnaces. Today there is a wide variety of choice when it comes to solar water heaters, from so-called ‘pre-heaters’ that share the load with traditional water heaters, to systems that can heat water independently. However, problems still remain, even for modern solar water heater systems. Dealing with bad weather and figuring out what to do after the sun has set are two big issues that solar water heating has always struggled with. Now, with the SunPump solar water heater, not only have these problems been overcome, the Sunpump actually takes the next step and heats homes themselves as well as hot water.
Solar Water Heater Technology in the 21st Century
The Earth receives more than enough energy every year from the sun (a staggering 12,211 gigawatt-hours per year) for us to be able to replace all other energy sources with solar power. In other words, all electricity and all heating needs could easily be met with solar energy. This is the dream of solar energy enthusiasts all around the world, but that goal is still far away. The challenge, as far as solar water heaters are concerned, has been twofold; to create a system that can convert solar power into heat efficiently, and to figure out what to do after the sun has set or when the weather is bad.
SunPump Revolutionises Solar Water Heating
The SunPump solar water heater was designed specifically with the problem of bad weather and the puzzle of solar heating at night in mind. SunPump’s solution has been to combine its solar thermal panels with a heat pump hot water heater. Heat pumps work much like a refrigerator running in reverse, using a liquid to transfer heat from outside the home to inside. The SunPump places its solar thermal panels on the roof and then runs this liquid refrigerant directly through the panels themselves. When the sun is shining, the solar thermal panels do most of the work. When it’s especially cloudy, or after the sun has set, the heat pump takes over, producing the extra energy that the solar thermal panels are lacking. Enough heat is produced this way to heat entire homes, along with hot water, without the need for another heating system. With the groundbreaking ability to heat homes and hot water reliably 24 hours a day, at night and in bad weather, the SunPump has created a watershed moment in the history of solar water heaters.