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The History of Solar Water Heating

History of Solar

As you consider the benefits of solar pool heating in Sacramento for your home or business, you might wonder how long this technology has been around. The book Let It Shine: the 6.000-Year Story of Solar Energy by solar historian John Perlin provides more details on this subject. While the book covers the use of solar energy in many aspects of human lifestyles, Perlin dedicates several chapters to the history and development of solar water heating.

Progress and Luxury with Solar Water Heating

The origins of solar water heating began in the 1800s, when common living styles in Europe and America progressed to a point where the demand for hot water increased. Better technologies, well-being, and even personal hygiene became more important. Having hot water was basically a luxury at the time, often in tanks attached to inefficient stoves or cylinders heated by natural gas. (Anyone who has seen the 1990’s film Enchanted April can’t help but recall the scene with Alfred Molina and the antique exploding hot water heater.)

The very first solar water heaters were metal water tanks painted black and placed in the sun, far away from shade. But the rate was uncontrolled – often the water became too hot or lost its heat during the night. In 1882 Clarence Kemp began work on the Climax water heater. His system connected a series of tanks that were filled with water and tilted toward the sun, typically on a sloped roof. The system was adjusted for pressurized or gravity-fed plumbing. Instead of collecting and transporting hot water from an external tank, hot water simply came out of a faucet.

Solar Water Heating Improvements

Due to lots of free sun in California, the Climax system became very popular. As time went on, inventors made improvements to Kemp’s design. In 1909, William Bailey made a system that used the sun’s rays and copper pipes in a box to heat the water, but then store it in a separate, insulated storage tank. The system had other innovations as well, and the “Day and Night” solar water heater quickly captured the market. During the Great Depression, the New Deal and other government programs helped the solar water heating industry, especially in Florida. For the next few decades, countries like the United States, Japan, Australia, and even Israel benefitted from solar water heaters.

It was often a minor adjustment to use the system with swimming pools – after all, the required storage unit was already present. As a result, a few homes installed the Day and Night system to heat their swimming pools. But in the 1970s, a man named Freeman Ford changed the design again. Instead of using boxes with metal tubing, he used thin black plastic with narrow ducts to heat the water. That is the basis for the Heliocol solar pool heating system today.

Past Innovations and Present Benefits

Through using innovation to meet necessity, homeowners and businesses now benefit from having just the right temperature for their swimming pools. And with the Heliocol system, you use the sun’s energy to heat the water, and that energy is free! Since the system doesn’t use natural gas to heat the water, or electricity from burning fossil fuels, you’re also helping the environment as you enjoy your pool longer throughout the year. Let Solaron show you further benefits to solar pool heating in Sacramento or the Bay Area. Give our office a call or schedule a free consultation online.

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