UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Heating water in Uganda using electricity is costly, and many households can barely pay their electricity bills. One of the energy-saving techniques we can implement to significantly reduce costs in Uganda is using a solar water heater.
How it Works
As the name suggests, solar water heaters use the sun’s thermal energy to heat water.
According to Tony Ssimbwa, from Power Trust Uganda Limited, a solar water heater has a collector panel that collects the sun’s thermal energy to heat the water. Water is piped to this collector panel from the home’s water reservoir tank. Heat is transferred to the water supply, then the hot water then moves into an insulated storage tank, where it is stored.
There are two main types of solar water heaters available for residential and commercial use:
1. Active solar water heaters
Active solar water heaters use a pump to circulate hot water from the solar collectors, or absorbers, to your home. These are preferred in areas with colder climates, as the water storage tank can be kept indoors to prevent freezing.
2. Passive solar water heaters
Passive solar water heaters do not use circulating pumps to move hot water. Instead, they rely on convection as the circulation system, where hotter water rises to the surface and cold water sinks, in order to circulate water. Passive solar water systems are usually cheaper than active ones, as they don’t require special equipment to pump the water.
Technicians install the solar water heater on the rooftop where the direct sun can reach the solar panel efficiently.
“The water tank must be at least 2 metres above the roof since the system requires the natural flow of water. The solar water heater storage keeps the water hot for 24 hours after heating is done,” Ssimbwa says.
Ssimbwa says if the sun doesn’t shine, some solar water heaters come with a backup electric system, that can help heat the water in a natural heat shortage.
Advantages of Solar Heaters
The advantages of solar heaters go beyond cost savings and the availability of power, as discussed below.
Low Maintenance: A genuine solar water heater system has a lifespan of 20-30 years and requires little maintenance.
Environmental Friendly: Solar heaters use a renewable and clean energy source, the sun, which makes them environmentally friendly.
High Efficiency: About 80% of the sun’s radiation turns into the heat energy needed to get the water at home hot.
Cost Savings: The energy cost to run a solar water heater is free, in contrast to electricity, natural gas or fuel oil. Solar heaters are conducive to the climate in Uganda, and the fuel they use — being sunshine, is 100% free. That means endless amounts of free energy.
According to Susan Nakabugo, a customer service representative at All In Trade Limited, using a solar heater cuts the electricity bill significantly, saving you up to 40% of the bill.
Nakabugo says solar water heaters can reach temperatures 1700F heating temperature, so hot water is available throughout the day regardless of the weather.
“The water tank is insulated and designed to keep the water hot for 24 hours, this means one can even use it at night,” Nakabugo notes.
“The heaters have an electric backup, which one can use when they feel the water is not warm enough,” Nakabugo adds.
According to Ssimbwa, the upscale price of a solar water heater in Kampala for 120 litres and 200 litres ranges from USh3.5m and USh4.5m, respectively.
Matovu Mbagatuzinde, a branch manager of Davis & Shirtliff Ltd, says domestic water heaters range between USh4.2m to USh7m, while commercial water heaters range from USh10.1m and USh43 m.
At All in Trade Limited, the cost for a 150 litre solar water heater, inclusive of the installation charges, is about Ush3m, while the 300 litre model costs around USh5m.
Mbagatuzinde says solar water heater parts, especially the collectors, can be replaced if problems occur.
According to Nakabugo, it is important to clean the panel collectors occasionally because they absorb the sunshine, therefore dust and dirt can impede their efficiency.
You don’t need a professional to do this. “Anyone can clean the panel collector on the roof,” Nakabugo notes.
Nakabugo, says you can use the solar water heater in any house. The number of occupants and usage determines the size of the water heater.
Top Suppliers for Solar Water Heaters in Uganda:
Davis & Shirtliff
Davis & Shirtliff Group is the leading supplier of water-related equipment in East Africa. The business activities at Davis& Shirtliff focus on six principal product sectors; solar equipment, water pumps, boreholes, swimming pools, water treatment, generators, and irrigation. Davis & Shirtliff offers quality solutions for all solar power needs and provides an extensive range of complementary products.
Power Trust Uganda
Power Trust, established in 2011, is a privately owned company that has grown exponentially. Power Trust aims to serve the ever-growing needs of the energy sector by supplying environmentally friendly products and services.
Power Trust Uganda handles both domestic and commercial solar systems, and it offers reliable electrical engineering solutions. The company deals in sourcing, providing, installation and servicing solar systems, solar water heaters, power backup systems and generators.
All In Trade Limited
All In Trade Limited is a private Ugandan registered company incorporated in November 2008, dealing in provision and maintenance of Reliable and Affordable Solar Energy Systems, Power Backup Systems, Electrical Services, Wind Energy systems, Power Protection Systems and other renewable energy solutions to the population of Uganda and the neighbouring East African Countries
Ultra Tec (U) Ltd
Established in 1999, Ultra Tec (U) Ltd aims to serve the needs of the growing energy and telecommunications sectors concerning supplying appropriate products and services. Ultra Tec (U) Ltd ensures that the products and services offered to its clients are of the best performance and high-quality standards.
Ultra Tec (U) Ltd is a representative of Solahart and provides different water heaters that include commercial systems and energy saving.
Established two decades ago, Balton Uganda strives to introduce new, innovative technologies in Uganda.
Balton Uganda has partnered with Chromagen to combine the most advanced technology and traditional heating methods.
Chromagen is a leading international manufacturer of solar and electric water heaters.
Balton Uganda’s products incorporate state-of-the-art engineering, rugged construction and select materials resulting in efficient and durable products.
Village Energy was founded in 2009. Its primary goal is to bring energy accessibility to villages by employing the youth in Uganda to manufacture and distribute solar systems locally.
Through their pastoral work, Village Energy Company realized a lack of trust in solar in the rural areas because of the lack of after-sales servicing options. This challenged Village Energy to come up with the community solar expert model that focuses on developing the human capital and physical infrastructure needed for a sustainable rural solar economy.
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