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Can I use a compressor to boost my solar hot water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 22 March 2012 at 12:44 pm

Q. I’ve been looking at different websites about solar hot water and you all basically say the same thing, “a supplementary heat source will be needed at some point”. Has anyone thought of using a small compressor in between the collector(s) and the hot water tank to heat the transfer fluid to a higher temperature in the same way as a ground source heat pump works? That way a supplementary heat source would not be needed as much, if at all in certain circumstances.

A. This is an interesting idea and worthy of further investigation. Please bear in mind, however, that solar thermal heating systems, whether boosted by an arrangement such as suggested above, would still require a backup heat source to meet requirements for bacterial infection (such as legionella) and, as such, this would simply be a more efficient way of using the heat.

The pump/compressor would, of course, require electrical energy to run it which would have a cost and carbon implication - so this would need to be developed and tested to ensure that it was cost-effective! 

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About the author: Paul Hutchens is founder and director of Eco2Solar, which installs solar systems around the UK.

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Jonathan Addison

Jonathan AddisonComment left on: 30 May 2012 at 11:44 am

Hi Paul,  there is a company that sell a system like this, using compressors and gas that heats your water, its called energie, they have a website www.thermalreflections.com worth looking at.

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