Retrofitting Domestic Hot Water Heaters for Solar Water Heating Systems in Single-Family Houses in a Cold Climate: A Theoretical Analysis
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One of the biggest obstacles to economic profitability of solar water heating systems is the investment cost. Retrofitting existing domestic hot water heaters when a new solar hot water system is installed can reduce both the installation and material costs. In this study, retrofitting existing water heaters for solar water heating systems in Swedish single-family houses was theoretically investigated using the TRNSYS software. Four simulation models using forced circulation flow with different system configurations and control strategies were simulated and analysed in the study. A comparison with a standard solar thermal system was also presented based on the annual solar fraction. The simulation results indicate that the retrofitting configuration achieving the highest annual performance consists of a system where the existing tank is used as storage for the solar heat and a smaller tank with a heater is added in series to make sure that the required outlet temperature can be met. An external heat exchanger is used between the collector circuit and the existing tank. For this retrofitted system an annual solar fraction of 50.5% was achieved. A conventional solar thermal system using a standard solar tank achieves a comparable performance for the same total storage volume, collector area and reference conditions.