Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems
Along the lines with the mission and vision of Biogas Taita Project, and with the aim to reduce deforestation, improve livelihoods and well-being, and to create local employment, we have now successfully developed a new product. Our solar water heating systems are affordable and easy to maintain, and as such more accessible for all Kenyan people. Not only domestically but also at institutions such as schools and hospitals a lot of water is still heated with firewood; this is no longer an appropriate option in the 21st century.
After two years of research and development, we have been able to develop a system which is 100 per cent locally sourced and produced. It can substitute the currently available high-tech imported solar water heating systems and achieves the same outcome, while the costs are reduced to only about 30% of the imported available options. The price includes a year sales guarantee and service contract. Furthermore, the system is much easier and cheaper to maintain as it has no high-tech imported technology. With the introduction of this product we aim at stimulating the local economy and creating new green job opportunities in Kenya.
The solar thermal water heating system consists of two elements; the panel and the tank. In the panel the rays of the sun heat water running through copper pipes. From the panel the hot water goes into an insulated tank keeping the water hot for several days. The water is circulating and always reheated if there is sun until a maximum temperature of 60°C is reached. The system does not require pressure on the water nor electricity or a pump but works only through the principle of thermo siphon. Thermo siphon is a method of passive heat exchange, based on natural convection, which circulates the water. The cold water for the system is either supplied manually on demand by using a bucket or automatically from a water reservoir tank or tap water connection. The standard system is based and sized on the most common behavior and hot water demand of the standard family using a bucket shower but the installation can be adjusted in size and to the individual needs of the client. The system can be installed on the ground or on the roof and can be connected to an overhead shower or to many user points.
All materials used to produce the system are found locally. In the long run we will even try to change as many of the used materials as possible for environmentally more friendly and sustainable materials. E.g. the glass wool insulation could be substituted with locally grown cotton wool rejects or coconut shell fiber, though this needs further research and will be done in phase two of our product development.
We have designed the system in a way (very low tech) that makes it easy for Kenyan Jua-Kali craftsmen to learn and apply the required skills. Therefore we can train local craftsmen to start their own production line. Installation and maintenance of the systems is even easier and any interested person can be trained in a short workshop on marketing, installation and maintenance and become a sales partner helping to spread the technology all over Kenya.
Systems can be seen at our workshop in Wundanyi, where the production takes place. Other production workshops will be set up soon, starting in Nairobi area.