Many solar enthusiasts have embraced the sunnier climates of the south as a way of life, moving away from the grey winters and gloomy skies of the north. This trend has certainly found its way to my own patch of England, where the sun shines and shines, and it’s not unusual to see people outside in the middle of the day. One of the many perks of living in warmer climates is the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities at anytime of the year.
This trend towards living a ‘solar’ lifestyle has led to many people looking at buying a parabolic solar heater to harness the power of the sun. These solar heaters are ideal for heating water for domestic use or for use in an outdoor pool, and they provide a reliable source of heat that won’t depend on the weather. If you’re considering one for yourself, or perhaps as a gift for a loved one, here’s a guide to whether or not parabolic solar heaters are worth buying.
If you’re in the market for a solar heater, or if you’re considering buying one as a gift, then it’s probably worth pausing to consider a few of its salient features.
By far the most important thing to consider is the material out of which the heater is constructed. While there are many attractive materials to choose from, such as aluminium or plastic, the most effective solar heaters are produced from lightweight but durable materials, such as stainless steel or silicon steel. These materials allow for efficient heat transfer and minimise the formation of condensation, which can cause damage to home appliances and interior fabrics.
The next important factor to consider is the size of the parabolic mirror. It’s a common misconception that bigger is better when it comes to these mirrors, as bigger generally means more cumbersome and less efficient. This couldn’t be further from the truth, with parabolic mirrors as small as 5 inches wide and high tolerances of plus or minus 1% also being highly effective. It really is the most ideal size for optimising efficiency as larger mirror dimensions mean that less light is reflected back to the solar cell, which reduces the overall power output of the device.
Another critical factor to consider is the output capacity of the parabolic solar heater. Just like with all other household appliances, bigger is not always better when it comes to this either, with a lower output generally being preferable, especially if you’re aiming for maximum efficiency. A general rule of thumb is that the bigger the better, except in the case of water heaters, where a large capacity may indicate an inefficient design that heats up the water slowly.
Last but not least, a critical factor to consider is the warranty. Just as with all other appliances and gadgets, you don’t get what you pay for, and cheap products with horrible warranties are sure to disappoint. As a general rule of thumb, you should buy quality products with at least a one year warranty, preferably with a two year or more warranty to ensure that you’re covered should anything happen to your product.
Now for the good stuff, the nitty gritty details that you need to know if you’re purchasing a solar heater, or if you’re considering buying one as a gift. First and foremost, let’s discuss efficiency, which is calculated by multiplying the mirror surface area by the conversion rate of the cell.
The more efficient a solar heater is, the more energy it will produce for a given size and surface area of mirror. There are various ways to measure the efficiency of a solar heater, but the most common and the most straightforward method is by simply looking at the power rating on the product’s packaging.
In the case of the Solare Solo, for example, you’ll find that the product is highly efficient, with the European Efficiency Rating (EER) being 62.5%. To give you a better idea of how efficient this product is, the EER for a regular home heater is around 50%.
Now that you’ve got an idea of how efficient a parabolic solar heater is, let’s have a look at how it compares in terms of output to other regular home heaters.
Comparison With Other Regular Home Heaters
It’s important to do your research before buying any product, and there are numerous ways to do this comparing different products. One of the most straightforward and reputable methods is through independent laboratories, such as Verified Energy, comparing the output of various products. As a general rule of thumb, it’s worth paying a little bit more for higher efficiency.
Taking the Solare Solo as an example, you’ll find that it produces 8.1 watts per hour, compared to the average home heater, which produces 6.25 watts, resulting in a 22% efficiency gain. These figures are impressive, but what I find even more remarkable is how quiet the Solare Solo is compared to other home heaters, with the fan operating at only 3.5 dB (A). This is incredibly quiet, especially when compared to other home heaters, such as the Solare Solo’s big brother, the Solare Duo, where you’ll find the fan runs at 7 dB (A) and is, therefore, more noticeable. This, in turn, means that the Solare Solo is ideal for use in areas where you might have some sensitivities to noise, such as next to bedrooms or anywhere where people are likely to be disturbed by the noise of a standard home heater operating at full capacity.
One of the key reasons I chose the Solare Solo was how efficient it is compared to other home heaters, with the energy and cost savings being significant, but so is the quality of the thermal output, without the risk of overheating.
A key feature of any good appliance is its durabeality, which, in the case of solar heaters, is particularly important. These appliances are going to be in use for a good number of years, and you don’t want them to break down after only a few months of use. This is where most of the savings come from, with many solar panels lasting for several years before needing to be replaced.
In the case of the Solare Solo, you’ll find that it’s dust-proof and waterproof, as well as being magnetically sealed. This makes the product ideal for use in wet locations or outdoors, where it might get wet or dirty from splashing seawater or freshwater on to it. Aside from this, the Solare Solo is also made from thick, high-quality metal alloys, which, again, boosts its durability and increases its effectiveness.
Last but not least, let’s discuss the ease of use. How easy is it to use this product? The Solare Solo is a single-switch-controlled device, with the on/off, raise/lower, and heat/no heat options being indicated by red, green, and blue indicators, respectively. The device is fairly intuitive to use, although if you’re new to this kind of technology, then a bit of a learning curve might be unavoidable.
One of the things I like most about the Solare Solo is its durability and ease of use. These are two incredibly important factors, and one of the main selling points of this particular product. If you’re searching for a silent and effective way to heat your home or outdoor space, then the Solare Solo is an ideal choice. It’s stylish too, with the mirror finishing being smooth and non-textured. This, combined with the sleek design of the device itself, makes it look expensive and high-quality. For me, this little sucker is just what the doctor ordered:)