Fitting the Solar Panels and Why.

Aye Aye land lubbers, I will start off the next round of installments with a simple statement that you are free to argue with if you so wish, “No house with a south facing roof should be without solar panels for heating water” to add to that statement “No new house (south facing roof) should be allowed to be built without solar panels for water”.
OK! so there is the expense (not huge) of fitting them initially but after that approx 75% of your hot water needs for the year are covered. Heating water is the most expensive thing we do so it makes sense to me to have it for free once you have installed the kit.
There are of course the naysayers who whine on about payback periods and other such rubbish and who seem to operate under the short term thinking delusion that it is better to keep the money in the bank and use it to pay for oil or electric or gas to heat the water.
I call it short term delusion because electric oil and gas are only going to ever become more expensive whereas the sun will always shine enough to provide plenty of hot water.
The other argument people use is that if you sell your house other people will get the benefit of the panels, all I can say is that if making a profit on everything you do is how your mind works and what taints your regard to the well being of future generations, then best you keep your precious money in the bank. That said if you think that creating and hoarding wealth is more important than the environment then try holding your breath while you count your money. So speaks someone who works in the industry of exploiting oil and gas so I see how they operate and what damage they do and how they manipulate the market conditions to suit their profit sheet so I also see how something as simple and affordable as solar water chips away at their power.
Ahhhh I’m glad I have unloaded that because I have heard varying degrees of complete bollocks from some quarters justifying their decision not to install solar when the benefits are so obvious, or it could just be me justifying our decision to fit solar as we believe it is worth the effort and cost long term.
So enough of my tree hugging hippy rhetoric lets get cracking with the process of fitting them.
The type we were recommended to choose by our designer were the evacuated tube type. Basically it is a thin sealed copper tube slightly fatter at one end (about as thick as your thumb and about 10cms long) with water in it. Thie tube is inside a black glass tube, which is in side a clear glass tube and between the two is a vacuum. The suns rays (infrared I think) pass through the vacumm and heat up the black glass tube which in turn heats up the copper tube sending all the heat to the fat end which is placed in a heat collector and which takes the heat and transfers it via pipeline to your hot water tank. The vacuum between the black glass and the clear glass prevents any radiant heat form escaping.

They look like this and are 1.85 meters long and about 7 to 8 cms thick. ( I will verify dimensions later)

To give you an idea Andrew from Tecknos (the excellent company who acted as our buying agent and who introduced me to the system designer who put together our heating system) delivered the tubes and collectors to us, and as a demonstration suggested we take one from the box and stand outside with it while we had a coffee. The tube was cold as was the copper end you can see in the photos and yet after 15 minutes standing outside holding the tube by hand in a bit of watery December sunshine the copper end was too hot to touch.

I assumed that large swathes of the roof had to be de-tiled in order to fit the frame but it couldn’t have been easier as the framework that supports the collectors and tubes it is held to the chevrons by 6 stainless steel straps that require two tiles to be lifted for each strap and then re-laid over the strap.

Here you can see a collector with the stainless straps on top of it, each of the collectors holds 30 tubes giving me a nominal kilowattage of 15 to 20 KW I think although I will have to check my figures on that.

With abit of careful lining up the stainless straps are installed and the collector hung from them. Then the rest of the frame is built in place and it is ready to receive the tubes. Here you can see me in my sling almost fizzling on the spot with frustration about not being able to be up the ladder with the guys. Luckily for me two very able, competent and skillful blokes (Micheal and Andrew) were on hand to help and I would suggest that three people does make the fitting of the tubes less risky (in terms of damage to the tubes) and much quicker.

So here we are with both collectors in place

Here is the first tube going in,

It simply slides into a rubber grommet in the collector with the fat copper end sitting snug against the internal heat collector.
It is a bit fiddly slipping the first couple in until you get the feel of it and a rhythm going, but once you get the hang of lubricating properly while getting the position correct, before you know it you are plunging them in to the hilt in a festival of double entendres and schoolboy giggles.

And they they are in place with the copper pipe and sensors all connected and insulated and then covered in protective silver tape.

The internal workings are to follow after the story of the Warmsler 1100 arrival in the Bentley family

Love and Peace
Bentley

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