The photovoltaic solar boiler we are talking about is an experimental system under test that uses the energy of the sun through a photovoltaic panel to produce domestic hot water in a tank completely separate from the boiler (typically gas) used for heating. The description contained in this article is based on the data provided by the creator with reference to the system built at his home in Ronco Briantino (MB), available to those interested for technical checks aimed at a possible prototyping.
According to the creator of the photovoltaic solar boiler, the principle of the separation of functions (the electric-photovoltaic one for hot water alongside the gas one for heating) is justified by the reduction of the maintenance costs of the gas boiler for heating (depending on its lower use) , in the possibility of having domestic hot water without the use of gas (because the water heater works with the energy of the sun, integrated when needed by the electricity of the network) and in the possibility for the user to know precisely how much he spends to heat the house and how much for the sanitary hot water.
The photovoltaic solar boiler it consists of a common electric boiler modified to be powered and controlled directly by the direct current produced by the photovoltaic panels and, in the absence of such energy, by the alternating current network. According to reports from the creator, this application is proving suitable to meet the needs of hot water for domestic use of a family of 4 residing in a villa in the climatic zone of Monza and Brianza.
The domestic experimental plant of photovoltaic solar boiler has been in operation in Ronco Briantino since the month ofAugust 2012 and, again according to the creator, it has advantages over the same function previously performed in the same home by an entirely gas system. If compared to a normal solar thermal system combined with the boiler (used to produce domestic hot water with the energy of the sun and to integrate heating systems in the winter season) the photovoltaic boiler a separate tanks would prove to be better due to the reduced need for maintenance.
The creator emphasizes that the photovoltaic solar boiler it is a totally static system and its expected life coincides with that of the photovoltaic panels, about 20 years. The only intervention that may require in areas with hard water (high presence of limestone) is that of periodic cleaning or replacement of the special resistance, a not complex and inexpensive operation that can also be performed by the user.
The use of a photovoltaic solar boiler separated would extend the life of the gas boiler because the latter, deprived of the domestic hot water heating function, would only work about six months a year and then remain off until the following winter; moreover, during the months of winter activity, the boiler would perform the sole function of heating and running the water in the radiators, a simple operation that takes place in the absence of limestone (because in the radiators there is no limestone) and with a flame power much less than that required for healthcare professionals.
The creator of the photovoltaic solar boiler reminds that breakages and malfunctions in gas boilers almost always depend on the production of domestic hot water due to the limescale effect, for the continuous operation of hydraulic circuits which must harmonize this function with that of heating and for the high thermal power needed to make available hot water in seconds. By depriving the gas boiler of the function of producing domestic hot water, the failures would be significantly reduced.
According to the creator of the photovoltaic solar boiler, this system could intercept the interest of all users interested in 'escaping from gas' due to the high and growing cost of this energy source. The technical opinions that have so far branded this system as 'inefficient' would be, in his opinion, vitiated by the absence of a true scientific analysis, by the lack of experimental data and even a little by the industry's laziness in front of the exploration of a field new.
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