A solar powered water heating system, is made up of a solar heat collector, housed in an insulated framework, one side of which, is made up of toughened glass that faces the sun's arc.
The complete unit, or panel, must be placed in an unobstructed, elevated position so as to capture the maximum amount of daily sunshine. Depending upon heating requirements, a group of solar panels can be placed in parallel, in order to deliver the desired amount of heated water to the hot water receiver.
The most common heat collector, used for solar hot water systems, is a very fine sheet of copper plating that covers the insulated base of the collector's framework. A series of copper tubes are placed on the copper plating and are connected to a small header tank at either end of the unit.
Should the copper tubes be of half inch diameter, then they would normally be placed about four inches apart to cover the entire collector. Ideally, the surface areas between the copper tubing and the collector plate would be airtight and pained black, in order to absorb the maximum amount of heat from the sun's rays. The solar panel must be sealed and made completely weather proof.
When mounted, a solar panel should be inclined at an angle of about forty five degrees in order to enable maximum exposure to the sun. A panel can be mounted on a free standing frame, or the pitch of a roof, provided that the chosen area can support the weight of the panel and a fifty gallon hot water receiver.