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Home » About Us » FAQ

FAQ

1. Is solar water heating a viable alternative to gas or electricity?
2. How long will it take to recoup my investment?
3. Can Apricus solar collectors be used in cold conditions?
4. What happens if one of the tubes is broken?
5. Will water be heated on a cloudy day?
6. Can I use a solar collector with my existing hot water system?
7. Are the solar collectors noticeable on the roof?
8. Can Apricus solar collector be mounted on a flat surface?
9. How do I protect my solar system during subzero temperatures?
10. Will the solar collector be a fire hazard during hot, dry weather?
11. Can the solar collector heat water to a high enough temperature?
12. What maintenance of the solar collectors is required?
13. Can Apricus solar collectors be used for a large scale hot water production?
14. Can I heat my swimming pool using an Apricus solar collector?
15. Are solar tube collectors more efficient than flat plate collectors?
16. Which collector is the best value for money?
17. What is the solar radiation (Insolation) level where I live?
18. How do I calculate what size collector I require?
19. Where can I purchase an Apricus solar collector?
20. Can Apricus solar collectors be used in a drainback configuration?




1. Is solar water heating a viable alternative to gas or electricity?

Solar should not be seen as a alternative to gas or electricity, but rather a supplement. Solar cannot totally replace the need for gas or electric heating as there are sometimes days when there is little sunlight. When averaged over a year, a correctly sized solar system can provide 60%-70% of a household's hot water needs. Providing more than this is unadvisable, as too much heat will be produced in the summer. The hot water system system can easily be automated so hot water is guaranteed regardless of sunlight levels.



2. How long will it take to recoup my investment?

Apricus solar collectors are much more affordable than many other solar hot water heaters. For a household of 4, the price of a full system may be similar to that of a new electric or gas system. Depending on you location (solar levels) and current hot water usage, the annual electricity or gas saving will differ. However in a normal household that spends 25% of its electricity bill on hot water heating, the full cost of the purchase may be recouped as quickly as 4-5 years in reduced bills. You will definitely make considerable savings during the life of the solar hot water heater. Federal and local rebates and incentives can provide an accelerated return on your investment. Visit www.dsireusa.org for more information.



3. Can Apricus solar collectors be used in cold conditions?

Yes. Apricus evacuated tube solar collectors can be used in temperatures as extreme cold temperatures, with systems installed in regions of Canada that reach -45oC.  Suprisingly even at these temperatures the system is able to product hot water with good efficiency due to the vaccum properties of the evacuated tube



4. What happens if one of the evacuated tubes is broken?


Apricus evacuated tubes are very strong and not easily broken, but if the worst should happen, solar tubes are very easy to replace. Although Apricus Solar Collectors have the ability to operate with several broken tubes, it is recommended that broken tubes be replaced immediately to retain efficiency. Replacement tubes are available through your local distributor at a very reasonable price.



5. Will water be heated on a cloudy day?

Yes. Although the heat output of the solar collector is reduced on overcast days it will still be able to provide significant heating. If it is a heavily clouded day or raining, then more gas or electric boosting may be required to maintain water at the required temperature. This system will be automated so you don't have to worry about running out of hot water on a rainy day.



6. Can I use a solar collector with my existing hot water system?

Normally yes. Simple retrofit valves can often be used to allow solar to connect to your existing cold water inlet. If your tank cannot accept the solar input directly, an additional storage tank can be installed to pre-heat the cold water prior to entering the existing tank.



7. Are the solar collectors noticeable on the roof?

If only the collector is mounted on the roof it should blend into the roof design quite well. Apricus Apricus solar collectors are very thin and can be flush mounted on a roof. From a distance they look somewhat like a skylight. You may have to check with your local council regarding building restrictions when installing your solar collector. Click here to view installation photos.



8. Can Apricus solar collectors be mounted on a flat surface?

Yes they may be mounted on a flat roof, or on the ground by using a stainless steel Flat Roof Frame. The collector should be installed at a minimum of 20o angle to ensure optimal heat pipe operation.



9. How do I protect my solar system during subzero temperatures?

If you have a system that is operating in areas with subzero temperatures then freeze protection must be implemented. The easiest means of preventing freezing is to use a controller with a low temperatures setting, so when the manifold temperature drops below a certain pre-set temperature (5oC/40oF), the pump will circulate, warming the collector with water from the bottom of the storage tank. The pump will run periodically, the frequency of which will depend on the outside temperature. In extremely cold areas, a closed loop using a glycol/water mix may be appropriate.



10. Will the Apricus solar collector be a fire hazard during hot, dry weather?

No. The Apricus solar collector's components are all high temperature rated and non-flammable so even during strong sunlight with the circulation pump turned off (stagnation), the system will not catch alight or ignite dry material such as leaves.  The evacuated tubes are cool to touch even during the summer. 



11. Can the Apricus solar collector heat water to a high enough temperature?

Yes, in good weather the Apricus solar collector can bring water to boiling point. Generally this is not necessary and so the system should be designed to provide a daily temperature rise of around 25-30oC (45-54oF) in the summer. Sizing a domestic system that can bring the cold water up to 60oC/141oF in a single day is not logical, because if hot water is not used for one day, the following day the system will be boiling and dumping hot water via the temperature relief valve. This is both a waste of energy and water! Please sensibly size solar water heating system to ensure optimal performance and minimal wastage of water.





12. What maintenance of the solar collector is required?

Under normal circumstances no maintenance of the system is required. Due to the shape of the tubes regular rainfall and wind should keep the tubes clean. Should a tube even be broken it should be replaced. This, however, is an inexpensive and easy job. Any "handy" person can install a new tube (while adhering to local health and safety regulations). Apricus solar collectors can operate with several broken tubes, however the efficiency will be reduced slightly.





13. Can Apricus solar collectors be used for a large scale hot water production? 


Yes. Apricus solar collectors can be connected in series or parallel to provide large scale hot water production for a commercial applications such as a schools, hotels or office buildings. There is really no limit to the size of the system.  The economics ($/kWh) of the systems generally improves at the system size increases.

Apricus evacuated tube collectors are ideal where high temperatures in the range of >60oC / 140oF  to 120oC / 250oF are required.   



14. Can I heat my swimming pool or spa using an Apricus solar collector?

Yes Apricus flat plate or evacuated tube collectors can be used to heat a spa/hot-tub or residential swimming pool.  A titanium heat exchanger is normally used to seperate the chlorinated water from the solar collector loop, avoiding corrosion damage of the copper piping.  For any swimming pool that is to be heated, an insulating blanket should be used to minimise heat loss and evaporation.



15. Are solar tube collectors more efficient than flat plate collectors?

When comparing peak efficiency levels it may seem that there is little difference between flat plate and evacuated tubes, in fact a flat plate may actually be higher, but this is during minimal heat loss conditions. When averaged over a year evacuated tube collector have a clear advantage. The key points are:



  • Due to the cylindrical shape of the evacuated tube, the solar tubes are able to passively track the sun throughout the day. Flat plate collector only provide peak energy output at midday when the sun is perpendicular to the collector's surface.
  • Air is evacuated from the solar tube to form a vacuum. This greatly reduces conductive and convective heat loss from the interior of the tube. As a result wind and cold temperatures have less effect on the efficiency of the evacuated tube collector.


  • Evacuated tubes are strong, long lasting, and should one be broken, inexpensive and easy to replace.
  • Due to the various advantages of evacuated tube collector over flat plate collectors, a smaller collector can be used to provide the same heating performance. For example, a standard household of 4-5 people would usually require a 250-300L water storage tank. Depending on your location, only 30 evacuated tubes would be required to provide all summer hot water needs and a large percentage in other seasons. 


  • Flat plate solar collectors can produce similar heat output to evacuated tube collectors, but generally only during hot, sunny conditions. When averaged over an entire year, evacuated tube collector heat output per net m2 of absorber area, is between 25% to 40% greater that a flat plate collector.



16. Which collector is the best value for money?

Rather than looking at just peak efficiency levels when comparing solar collectors, installed cost per unit of energy produced is much more logical. For example: Although collector A may be 20% more efficient than collector B, if collector A is 30% more expensive, then in fact collector B may be a better choice, as per kWh of energy produced per day it is cheaper. Apricus solar evacuated tube collectors are particularly easy to install, reducing the installation cost and thus improving $/kWh. 



17. What is the Solar Radiation (Insolation) level where I live?

Solar insolation is the amount of electromagnetic energy incident on the surface of the earth. In other words, how much sunlight is shining down on us.  Click here for more information.




18. How do I calculate what size collector I require?

Please click here for guidelines to choose a suitable solar collector model.



19. Where can I purchase an Apricus solar collector?

Apricus solar collector are available through an official distribution network in many countries.  Please review the list of our Global Offices and contact the one in your area directly, or if none are prsent, contact us and we will put you in contact with your closest Apricus reseller.



20. Can Apricus solar collectors be used in a drainback configuration?

Yes. The end port version of the Apricus solar collector is well suited to drainback use. The question is often asked if the solar collector will be damanged when the pump turns off and the system stagnates in good sun - no it won't, as the collectors is designed to withstand stagnation. What must be considered though is the insulation used on the piping close to the collectors, as this must be able to withstand stagnation tempertures.

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