By Mercy Masai

What is a Solar Water Heating System?

It is a simple, reliable, and cost-effective technology that harnesses the sun’s energy to provide for the hot water needs of homes and businesses.

Which places are recommended for a Solar Water Heating System?

These systems have a wide area of application including:-

  • Schools (colleges, university)
  • Residential homes
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals

Are there different types of Solar Water Heating Systems?

1. Evacuated tube Solar Water

It is made from coke glass, which has a green tint, are stronger and less likely to lose their vacuum, but efficiency is slightly reduced due to reduced transparency. ETCs can gather energy from the sun all day long at low angles due to their tubular shape.

It can be used for heating and cooling purposes in industries like pharmaceutical and drug, paper, leather and textile and also for residential houses, hospitals nursing home, hotels swimming pool etc.

The energy output of flat plate collectors is reduced slightly more than Evacuated tube in cloudy or extremely cold conditions

 Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water Heating System

2. Flat Plate Solar Water

  • Flat plate collectors are an extension of the idea to place a collector in an ‘oven’-like box with glass directly facing the Sun.
  • The type of glass used in flat plate collectors is almost always low-iron, tempered glass. Such glass can withstand significant hail without breaking, which is one of the reasons that flat-plate collectors are considered the most durable collector type.
  • Flat plate collectors are generally more efficient than Evacuated tube in full sunshine conditions.

What are Benefits of Solar Water Heating Systems?

1. Solar Water Heaters Work In Every Climate

Today’s solar hot water technologies can be operated efficiently and affordably in any climate. Systems are specifically designed for various climatic and geographical areas of the country.

2. Reduce Energy cost

Solar water heating systems are ideal desire to save recurrent bills for electricity or other heating sources. Once installed, the user can enjoy free hot water from the sun for not less than 15 years on average

3. Improved Environment

Reduced demand for fossil fuels will improve the environment by reducing air and water pollution as well as the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. And though they cost a little bit more up front to install, a carbon free Solar Water Heating system will save consumers money in the long run as the fuel source (the sun’s energy) will always be free.

What is the status of Solar Hot Water in Kenya?

In Kenya research shows water heating in homes accounts for 50-70% of power bills depending on hot water demand. Therefore to invest in a solar water heating system makes a great sense economically. These systems require minimal maintenance and can stay in operation for more than twenty years. Solar water heaters have payback periods ranging from one to three years.

What impact is Solar Water Heating projected to have in Kenya?

To heat water, the residential sector in Kenya consumes about 820 GWh of electricity annually, as confirmed by the 2010 Director Renewable Energy at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) – Bernard Osawa. This puts a huge strain on the power infrastructure, especially in the morning and evening. The use of solar water heating systems could reduce the demand by domestic, institutional and commercial users during peak times.

What are the 2017 Solar Water Heating Regulations set by EPRA ?

  1. The regulation requires the solar system to cover at least 60 % of the building’s annual hot water demand .It applies to all new buildings, residential and commercial that have a hot water capacity of more than 100 litres per day.
  2. An electric power distributor or supplier shall not provide electricity supply to premises where a solar water heating system has not been installed in accordance with the Regulations.

The premises targeted by these regulations include:

  1. Domestic Residential Premises
  2. Educational Institutions
  3. Health Institutions
  4. Hotels and Lodges
  5. Restaurants, Cafeterias and other eating places
  6. Laundries.

The regulations also set a penalty for persons who do not follow the provisions set forth in the document: Any break of the law can result in a payment of up to Kenyan Shillings (KES) 2 million and/or two years in prison.

Furthermore, the regulatory framework says that the solar components need to comply with Kenyan technical standards and that installers need to be licensed by the EPRA. The draft law also requires the commission to maintain a register of all eligible solar water heater technicians and contractors.

The public is hereby informed that all new buildings that fall in the above categories should install, use and maintain solar water heating systems. For buildings built before the gazettement of the regulations, the deadline for compliance is 25th May 2017.