Understanding Solar Water Heaters -Their systems and characteristics

Heating water is quite a luxury in a few Kenyan homes as it involves using electricity, which is expensive and a rare commodity in some areas of the country. However, there is an alternative means to heat your water which we will learn about in the course of this article.

It is essential to understand what solar water heaters constitute and what their functions are. Solar water heaters can be defined as systems or devices comprised of solar collectors, controls, and storage tanks that use sunlight to warm up the water.

There are two major solar water heaters systems in Kenya: The evacuated tube collector and the flat plate collector solar water heating systems. These systems have thermal collectors, which are devices that do the task of absorbing the sun’s energy (solar energy).

Characteristics of both the Evacuated Tube and Flat Plate collector heating systems

These solar water heating systems have the capability of forming two distinctive forms. These forms are either a coerced and non-coerced system. The coerced solar water heater system needs a water pump to force water through the heater system. This system is most common in places where water needs to be pumped to the remotest water tap.

For the non-coerced heater system, water flows from storage tanks through gravitational force. In other words, this system does not require pumps to push water from its storage location.

What are the distinctions between these solar water heating systems?

Let us now answer how the evacuated tube collector and flat plate collector solar water heating systems differentiate.

1. Cost

Solar water heater price vary depending on the type of heating system available. Solar water heaters with flat plate collectors tend to be much cheaper than the evaluated tube heating systems. Because of this, flat plate collectors are more popular.

2. Efficiency

The evacuated tube solar heating system is more efficient than its rival, thanks to its tubes. These tubes are set apart by vacuum, minimizing heat loss through convention and conductivity.

3. Easy installation

If installing your solar water heating panel is your biggest challenge, you should choose the evacuated heater system. This is because flat plates constitute heavy panels that must be safely mounted on the roof to function effectively. So, its installation process tends to be more demanding compared to the evacuated system.

4. Shape

Differentiating between flat collectors and evacuated tube collectors is easy. The flat collectors take a flat rectangular shape and are popularly known in Kenya as solar panels. On the other hand, evacuated tube collectors are tubes responsible for minimizing heat loss, as stated earlier.

5. Solar absorbing ratio

When looking for a solar heating panel that absorbs more sunlight, it is crucial to choose a larger surface area exposed to the sun. The flat plate collector is the ideal choice. Despite the sizes of these heating systems, their energy-absorbing ratios vary significantly.


While looking for an ideal solar water heating system in Kenya, it is crucial to consider the characteristics and differences listed in this article. Let it guide you to make the right choice as you plan to purchase your solar water heaters in Kenya.

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