Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Solar water heating FAQ

Solar Payback, the good, the bad and the ugly

A few weeks ago, we were talking with a client of ours about the reasons people install a solar systems (PV or water heating).  He was telling us about a house being built in the Okanagan which the architect had specified a 1 KW solar PV system to be installed on the house as it was being built.

There was nothing unusual about installing a solar PV system but the question was asked in this case, why did we think this person wanted a Solar system on this particular house. 

The house in question just happened to be a huge custom home costing approximately $10 million to build.  The comment was made that the clock radios in the bedrooms alone in this house probably use more electricity than a 1 KW PV will produce.  This might be a slight exaggeration but its not far off as we will try to explain further down this post.

Most likley in this case, the home owner is not concerned with "payback" on the system.  Maybe it was a case of "why not, it looks cool".

Read more: Solar Payback

Solar School Items

This article describes a home built by someone in Big Bar Lake in BC.  Approx 200 kms NW from Kamloops.  The home owner planned right from the start to try and heat the house with solar water Heating.  
When trying to incorporate any renewable energy project into a building, it makes more sense to make sure the home is as well insulated and efficient as possible in the first place as this will minimise the non renewable energy you need to replace.  This article describes the system and the house to help other people who are wanting to install solar water heating in the home.  Remember that this system will also apply to commercial buildings aswell.

Read more: Heating homes with solar collectors

Solar School Items


A solar tank is a critical part of your solar hot water system. The type and size of solar tank you need is often a poorly understood part of a system, mainly because there are so many variables to it.

Many systems installed by companies often attached a small box of tricks to the side of your existing domestic hot water tank. The justification for this is partly that often you don’t have room for a bigger tank in many mechanical rooms and it also saves you buying another larger tank. While this is true, it also means that your solar system will store very little heat during the good sunny days, and will never perform like a proper solar tank with internal heat exchanger

This article will also describe various types and sizes of solar tanks that can be used for solar water heating. It will describe pressurized and un-pressurized solar tanks including some places you buy them from. It is also part of a longer article on heating homes with solar hot water using a real life example of a home using a large 1700 gallon tank.

Read more: Solar Hot Water Tanks

Solar School Items

All solar collectors, evacuated tubes, flat plate collectors and un-glazed pool heaters have different efficiencies.  This is why no one can say Evacuated tubes are always better than flat plate collectors.  It depends on their application.

Calculating collector efficiency is complicated and not easy to do without a computer and not all collectors reports will show a graph like the one below.

Read more: Solar collector efficiency

Solar School Items

Are you looking at buying "CSA approved solar collectors".  This article explains what is now in place in Canada with regard to Solar Water Heating.

The end of the ecoENERGY program.
The residential and commercial ecoENERGY incentive programs are ending soon, 31st March is the deadline, after that, as far as we know there are no more Federal Solar Water heating incentive programs going to be announced anytime soon.  There are a few provinces that have some local or provincial incentives still running but these are few and far between.
For the past few years, a list of the collectors that were acceptable to receive the incentive was maintained by NRCan.   The NRCan list said that all collectors on this list "met CSA Standard F378-87 or equivalent".  Latitude51 Solar were one of about 90 companies with a few collector models each who were on this approved list.
Note this line, it is important and has significant relevance later on when the CSA basically admitted that NON of the Collectors on this list can be classed as "CSA approved"
Read more: CSA Approved solar collectors

Solar School Items

In this email we will cover these topics.

  1. If you are looking to install a solar water heating system you are most likely wanting to know how the grants work and what you need to get them.
  2. Explaining what the new F379 is and what it does for you.  This will give you some valuable information about what to install and what not to install on your solar water heating system.

The old incentive scheme ended for solar water heating ended March 31st 2011.  It was replaced shortly afterwards with a new scheme but it had some radical changes to the program.

Read more: Grants for solar systems

Solar School Items

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In The News

Northern Lights Solar Solutions (NLSS) has completed a partnership deal with Canadian based Latitude 51 Solar. This partnership will allow Latitude 51 to continue its Canadian distribution of the Northern Lights Solar Thermal products. The ...


123ZeroEnergy in conjunction with Northern Lights Solar Solutions supplies the Enmax conservatory located in Calgary, AB Canada with 16 high performance solar vacuum tube collectors. The Sun Rain solar evacuated tubes are consider ...

From Kevin M. - Port Egin Ontario, solar swimming pool heating


This article is describing a large outdoor solar heated swimming pool.  As you can read from this story a single 30 tube solar collectors is helping maintain the pools ...

Good afternoon,
Our very simple solar water system has been up and running since the end of
March. Even on cloudy days it provides more than enough hot water for our
needs. We had no previous experience with solar water heating, so put this
together in ...

 Terry Fenwick, Harwood, Ontario
I installed my two 30 tube collector system in late November 2010.

My design goal was to maximize the winter heat gain to help heat water used for radiant floors and my domestic hot water. I have started ...

Stuart L - Near Ottawa
I've attached some photos. One is of 2 Latitude51 panels in a neighbour's system. The others are of my system. My heat/hot water system includes a wood boiler and 600 gallon heat storage tank shown in one photo. The tank has ...

I purchased a system last fall from Latitude51 Solar, originally thought I would need a 60 tube setup
but have found the 30 tube works just fine for me and my wife even though we have a tree shading
problem around our yard.
I have an on demand ...

 From Mike Holden, Ontario
System: 2 x 30 tube collectors, custom install for DHW and space heating.
"The great thing about solar energy, is that it is "free", the downside of solar energy, is that YOU must make a commitment, both ...

From George Skeet - High River Alberta.
System: 2 x 30 tube collectors, 2 x 70 gallon tanks.
Just a quick note to show we did put the panels we bought from you to work. To date the controller says we have produced 2200 kwh of energy. The controller ...

From Wayne Larsen - Big Bar Lake, BC
System: 4 x 30 evacuated tube solar collectors, The owner built his own house incorporating energy efficient designs and right from the beginning the plan was to incorportate solar hot water space heating into the ...

 From Doug S. - SE Calgary
System: 3 x 30 tube collectors, 80 Gallon Tank
For the last 3 and a half weeks (May 2011) we have had the panels run the tank up to 75 C but usually average 50-60 Deg C- range.

One of the reasons for this we have ...

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