Collector Installation Guide

Collector Installation Guide

Before installing a solar water heating system, the direction, angle and location of the solar collector on the house must be determined.  The most fundamental requirement is exposing the solar collector to the most sunlight possible each day and throughout the year. 

The following information is a basic guide.  For a detailed, more technical overview, register for access to the Apricus Tech Centre. 

 

Installation Angle

Solar thermal collectors need to face the sun to obtain maximum sunlight exposure.  The installation angle should be equal to or up to 15o higher than the latitude of the location.  This angle ensures optimal heat output throughout the year.  Depending on the application, higher or lower installation angles may be more suitable as determined by the solar professional designing and installing the system. 

The diagram below shows the path of the sun throughout the sky, cycling from low in the sky in the winter, to high in the sky during the summer.

 

Apricus solar collector installation guidelines based on sun position in the sky

 

Direction

Solar collectors should face as close as possible to the equator, which is the direction of the midday sun. Based on needing to face the equator, this means that in the northern hemisphere the collector should face south, in the southern hemisphere the collector should face north. 

It may not always be possible to mount the collector due north/south, and so 15o east or west is acceptable and will not reduce collector output too much.  Facing the collector more easterly will increase morning sunlight exposure, westerly will increase afternoon sunlight exposure.  Pointing further away from the equator direction will reduce daily output and so a larger solar system may be required.  This should be considered by the system designer or installer when sizing the system.

Solar collector output changes at angles from equator direction

The diagram above shows the approximate losses in output for solar collectors when installed at angles off equator pointing. 

To understand more about collector efficiency, click here.  

 

Collector Position

The solar collector position greatly depends on the design of the building.  While adhering to the goal of facing the equator, there are many options for the collector location, as shown in the diagram below. 

 

Apricus solar water roof mounting position diagram

 

The collectors can be roof mountedwall mounted or even ground mounted as shown in the diagram above.  This is possible for both Apricus evacuated tube (black coloured) and Apricus flat plate(blue coloured) panels.

 

Key considerations for position are:

  • Distance to the storage tank:  A shorter pipe run will reduce the cost of the installation, heat loss and pump energy usage.
  • Shading:  Trees, neighbouring buildings, chimneys etc that may cast a shadow on the collector between 10am and 2pm when most of the solar radiation is provided.