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Redefining Solar Hot Water Efficiency

Sun Bandit®

Efficiency is often considered the gold standard for comparing solar power systems. The term can be applied to the entire solar power system or individual system components, but the most common usage is in reference to the solar modules or collectors. With the use of photovoltaic solar modules rather than traditional solar thermal collectors, Sun Bandit is redefining solar hot water efficiency.

Solar thermal collector efficiency has long been pointed to as the biggest advantage of traditional solar thermal over solar photovoltaic technology. Flat plate solar thermal collectors can collect roughly 80% of the sun’s energy while photovoltaic modules typically convert less than 20% of the sun’s energy to electricity.

However, the key factor for selecting a solar water heating system should be the overall effectiveness of the system rather than the efficiency of the collectors. Although the peak collector efficiency of a traditional flat plate solar thermal collector is higher than a PV module, Sun Bandit’s PV-focused system can provide the targeted hot water demand much more consistently than the traditional solar thermal system.

Performance

Ambient temperature and wind speed have a significant impact on the performance of traditional solar thermal collectors. Therefore, during the cooler, windier months, solar collectors have a much lower energy output. Sun Bandit’s photovoltaic panels offer a much more reliable energy output throughout the entire year, ensuring a more consistent and steady production of hot water.

The higher capacity of the solar thermal system during the hot, summer months provides no benefit since the baseline demand is satisfied. This energy production cannot be stored and may lead to an increased risk of overheating.

Maintenance

The Sun Bandit systems require much less maintenance and have far fewer failure points than traditional solar thermal systems. Sun Bandit requires fewer moving parts and exterior sensors, which allows for a more consistent hot water energy source. Conversely, solar thermal systems with damaged pumps, leaks, pressure loss, bad sensors, etc., will likely provide zero output.

Installation

Sun Bandit hot water heater installs just like a traditional hot water heater. It requires no fluids, no pumps and no complicated plumbing or architecture. Additionally, photovoltaic modules that power the Sun Bandit system are much lighter and easier to install than traditional solar collectors.

When it comes to comparing the two hot water heating systems, it is important to determine which system can provide the most consistent and reliable supply of solar heated hot water. This consistency in meeting hot water demand is what saves customers money on their bills and reduces peak utility demand.

Rather than depending on the gold standard of peak collector efficiency, start defining solar hot water efficiency by the efficiency of the entire system. When comparing performance, maintenance and installation, it is clear that Sun Bandit’s photovoltaic-based system is more efficient than traditional solar thermal.

For more information, download our “Redefining Solar Efficiency” whitepaper. 


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