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You Need a Southern Orientation  
Since the sun rises in the East, crosses over the horizon on the South and sets in the West, you want your collector to face as much to True South on your roof as possible. This is especially true for space heating where you need to be within 15 degrees of True South as shown below.

Up to 45 degrees East or West of true South has little effect on year round domestic water heating. While less desirable, a West or even an East facing water heating system can work well, especially with an additional collector. Orientations over 45 degrees, such as a home with a North-South ridgeline can tilt the collectors South with a SolarRoofs.com tilt kit. Click here to learn about optional tilt kits.

While most collectors are mounted on the roof, many have been mounted on the ground, or on an awning on the side of the house. Naturally, it is important that there not be any shading where the collectors will go!

You Need a Good Collector Tilt

The collector angle is known as "tilt." While a typical roof angle is 22 to 32 degrees, the tilt should be at least 15 degrees up from horizontal. Additional tilt usually has little effect on total year-round performance unless you are in an area with very sunny winters like Colorado.

A tilt angle equal to latitude is considered ideal for space heating.  Because the winter sun is so low in the sky, great results have been obtained by having collectors flush on a vertical wall for space heating, which also prevents summer overheating.

You Need Space for your Solar Collectors

SolarRoofs.com's Skyline® collectors are rugged and powerful yet light weight. These collectors are easy to carry by one person and are much safer to get on the roof to install. Both the 10-01 and 20-01 collectors are available in architectural colors and have an attractive appearance on the roof. No soldering is required to install the collector(s).

You need a Good Path For Your Solar Lines From Your Collectors to Your Solar Storage Tank

You need a good "path" for your two solar lines and wires to go from your tank to your South facing roof. It is desirable that this "path" be under 40 feet (one way), but up to 80 feet (if well insulated) is OK. 

You will be running two 1/2" outside diameter copper tubes with a minimum of 1/2" thick high temperature insulation. You will also be running at least one wire set on the outside of the insulation for either power from a PV panel to the pump and/or a sensor wire for a differential controller. Horizontal lines need to be supported every six feet.

For PV pumped Open Loop systems 1 and 3, a second wire set may be needed for a freeze snap switch, The Installation Manuals have good guidance on running solar lines. You will need a large enough storage tank or enough room for an added solar tank.

Storage

Solar water heaters tend to have larger hot water storage capacity than conventional water heaters. This is because solar heat is available only during the day and sufficient hot water must be collected to meet evening and morning requirements.

How well an active solar energy system performs depends on effective siting, system design, location, and installation. Solar thermal water heating systems, which use the sun's energy rather than electricity or gas to heat water, can efficiently provide 50 to 90% of your hot water needs—without fuel cost or pollution and with minimal operation and maintenance expense.

TROPICAL AND TEMPERATE SYSTEMS: You may be able to use your existing electric water heater for the Skyline3 open loop, or you can add a water heater for solar storage to your existing water heater.

You need at least 1 gallon of storage for each square foot of collector area. It is desirable that your storage tank be at least 50 gallons of storage for up to 30 square feet of collector area, although a 40 gallon water heater can work well with up to 30 square feet of collector area. Generally, the larger the water heater the better, up to 2.5 gallons per square foot of collector area in sunny areas.  An 80 gallon “top connect” solar tank is recommended for 40 s/for 60 s/f systems and 120 gallons for 60 and 80 s/f systems.

FREEZE PROTECTED SYSTEMS: Skyline5 systems use the excellent Rheem / Rudd, Richmond, SunEarth (or other private label all the same manufacturer) 80 or 120 Gallon Storage tank with a very efficient copper "wrap around" heat exchanger.

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Building Codes, Covenants and Regulations for Solar Heating Systems

Before installing a solar energy system, you should investigate local building codes, zoning ordinances, and subdivision covenants, as well as any special regulations pertaining to the site. You will probably need a building permit to install a solar energy system onto an existing building. Due to the light weight of Skyline® systems, structural is not usually an issue.

Installing Your Solar Heating System

Hundreds of handy homeowners have installed Skyline® solar water heaters. With many color pictures and clear directions, the SolarRoofs.com installation manual may be the best in the industry.  Also see our complete installation Video section.

There are generally 4 ways to get your system installed:

1) The homeowner installs the entire system by themselves or with a helper by reading the installation manual and watching the installation Videos.

2) If adding a tank, the homeowner has a plumber set the tank which requires some soldering and then the homeowner does the no solder solar loop installation themselves.

3) The homeowner has a plumber set the tank and then a handyman reads the manual and installs the solar loop (often the homeowner helps the handyman).

4) A professional solar contractor installs the system. Professionals usually charge anywhere from $1,800.00 to $3,000.00 to install as they have to cover costs such as workers compensation, labor, insurance and warranty.

Maintaining Your Solar Heating System

Very little maintenance is needed for Skyline® systems and collectors. When there is no rain for a long period of time it is good to rinse your collectors with water to get the dust off. Please see Operations and Maintenance manuals.

Most solar water heaters are automatically covered under your homeowner's insurance policy. However, damage from freezing is generally not. Contact your insurance provider to find out the policy. Even if your provider will cover your system, it is best to inform them in writing that you own a new system.

 
 
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