Building? Here’s how your solar geyser should be installed
There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.
The conduit pipes for the electrical and other wires should be installed before the plastering is done. Do not allow any plastering until you have authorised it.
Make sure that the pipes are about 50mm deep into the wall, and well secured, because cracks can easily develop here. I recommend that 300mm-wide mesh (chicken wire) be nailed over the pipes and then a strong mixture of river sand and cement be grouted into the cavity before the walls are plastered. The dust in the slots must be washed out before the grouting is done.
All trenches for electrical cables on the property must be at least 600mm deep, in order not to be damaged when gardening is done. Try to remember where the cables are installed or make notes on the plan.
A qualified registered drain layer must install and test all pipes and fittings.
Watch out for the following:
- Make sure that the pipes are SABS approved for underground use.
- The drain pipe should be at least 500mm away from a water pipe when they are in the same trench.
The pipe must be laid on a sand bedding and not on any hard or uneven materials.
- Backfill around and on the top of the pipe must be done in layers of 100mm and this should be well compacted. Make extra sure about this, especially when the area above will be paved.
Make sure that you know where all the rodding eyes are. It is indicated as RE on the plan, and they are used to clean the blocked drain. The top of the RE must be visible and level with the natural ground or paving.
I will not go into all the detail of how a geyser should be installed, because I assume that the installation will be done by a qualified plumber who should know the correct procedure.
Look out for this:
- A geyser tray must be installed under the geyser.
- Ensure that pipes of the vent and safety vent valves are at least 300mm long.
- Hot water pipes must be insulated.
- We recommend a geyser blanket to save energy.
If you want to install more than one geyser because you have a large family, consider installing two geysers in series.
The radiation from the sun is used to generate heat. The size of the panel will determine how much energy can be collected.
Solar geysers have to rely on electrical elements to provide hot water at all times. An efficient solar heater could save 50% of the water heating account, but not of the total electricity bill.
It functions basically as a refrigerator but the other way around and extracts energy from the air. A heat pump is installed to the outside of the house and then connected to the geyser inside. A heat pump does not require roof space or sunlight and is easier to incorporate into an existing house. I do not want to promote or discredit any system because this should be your exclusive decision.
A heat pump is a more expensive option for heating water in a household than solar water heaters but only by a relative small margin. The life cycle cost indicates that a solar water heater is a more feasible option, even after 20 years.
Next time: How to choose glass in your home