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Solar Water Heating System in Malaysian Homes

Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Project Title

A study into solar water heating system in Malaysian Homes

1.2 Problem Statement

Malaysia has favourable climatic conditions for the development of solar energy due to the abundant sunshine and is considered good for harnessing energy from the sun. This is because solar hot water can represent the large energy consumer in Malaysia households. But, because of the high initial cost of solar water heating system, and easily to install and relatively inexpensive to purchase electric water heaters, many Malaysia families are still suing electric water heaters to hot their water needs. This research is presented the comparing of solar water heating system from Malaysian’s market with the electric water heater by study the initial cost, price, durability, maintenance cost and environment impact for both systems. The most important is to compare the long term economical benefits for both systems.

1.3 Aims

To study solar water heating system in Malaysian Homes

1.4 Objectives

To determine the pros and cons for solar water heating system
To investigate the popularity of solar water heating system in Malaysian Homes
To compare the initial cost, price, durability, and environment impact for solar water heating system and electric water heater

1.5 Background

Every day, we are heard with information about global warming, global pollution, wars over energy resources, species depletion…the lists go and on. Solar energy is renewable. Solar Water Heating System gets energy from the sun to heat water for homes, there by displacing the use of electricity.
The use of Solar Water Heating System has a long history and it is impossible for us to exactly date the first uses of it. But we do know that ancient Greeks and Romans civilizations made good use of passive solar energy in their building designs. The first inventor for Solar Water Heater is Clarence M. Kemp at Year 1891. Until today, Solar Water Heating System is commonly used by residents and becomes one of the action to protect our global.

1.6 Scope of Study

The main study will specific on Solar Water Heating System and its pros and cons. The scope of study will focus on the comparison of initial cost, price, durability and environmental impact between Solar Water Heating System and Electric Water Heater.

1.7 Research Methodology :

This research will be carried out by using literature review and questionnaire. Literature review is going to determine the pros and cons for solar water heating system, and also to compare the cost of operation, price, durability, maintenance cost and environment impact for solar water heating system and electric water heater. Questionnaire will be carried out to investigate the popularity of Solar Water Heater in Malaysian Homes at Wangsa Maju.

1.8 Contribution

From this research, we gain deeper knowledge about solar water heating system and Malaysian’s family can have another choice on water heating system other than electric water heater.

1.9 Proposed Chapter

1.9.1 Chapter 1 -Introduction

Introduction for solar water heating system.

1.9.2 Chapter 2 -Literature review

Determine the pros and cons for solar water heating system from journals, books and through internet to support. Compare the cost of operation, price, durability, maintenance cost and environment impact for solar water heating system and electric water heater.

1.9.3 Chapter 3 -Research Methodology Questionnaire

The method for this research is using questionnaire. The main purpose of this questionnaire is to obtain facts, data and basic information from every party that involves in this area of study. Questionnaire will be distributed to relevant parties for feedback and will be set in an easy to answer manner to encourage response from the respondents. At the end of the questionnaire section, result will be tabulated in charts, graph, pie forms. This will reflect the trend and indicates the distribution of figure to help in analyzing the problems. Literature Review

The information of the second source will be come from literature review. For the topic of this Project and Dissertation, all the information will base on the relevant literature on Solar Water Heating System. For better understanding, some aspects such as the method of installation for Solar Water Heating System, the type of Solar Water Heating System will also included. TARC library and national library is the best way to get all the relevant information. Besides that, internet is also the way to obtain all the relevant information and data. The online resource in TARC library is the best search engineers for the journals articles which related to my Project and Dissertation.

1.9.4 Chapter 4 -Data and analysis

After the questionnaire, all the analysis results will be record and explain in this chapter. All the result will base on 40 respondents and given a conclusion whether the majority of the respondents prefer water heating system or electric water heater in Malaysian Homes.

1.9.5 Chapter 5 -Conclusion

In this chapter will list down the achievement of objectives for this dissertation and will be concluded and commented. Other than that, my personal opinion and comment will also be in this chapter.

Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1 History of Solar Water Heating System

Throughout human’s history the sun has always been a subject of guess and mystery. In fact, most ancient cultures have considered the sun as a god or godlike due to its life-giving and energy-giving. Thus, the subject of solar is one of the oldest subject for human. Besides that, it has gone through many evolutions and has been the subject of many schools of thought- starting with religion, and ending up in the field of science.
It is impossible to exactly date the first uses of solar energy, it maybe the Egyptian, Chinese or even the Malay first invented solar energy. But we do know that ancient Greeks and Romans civilizations, made good use of passive solar energy in their building designs.
The use of Solar Water Heating System has a surprisingly long history. Year 1891, Clarence M. Kemp became the first man to patent a Solar Water Heater, called the “Climax”(Bob Ramlow and Benjamin Nusz, 2006, p.2). It was a black painted water tank mounted in an insulated box with glass on one side. The Climax was instantly popular in California. Thousands of Climaxes and similar systems were installed in a short time.
Figure 2. 1 An old advertisement for the Climax Solar Water Heater
Year 1909, William J. Bailey, a California Engineer began selling a new system Solar Water Heater named “Day and Night”(Ramlow and Nusz, 2006, p.3). It consisted of a solar collector and a separate storage tank mounted above the collector. Year 1913, a freak cold snap hit southern California and many “Day and Night” Solar Water Heater collectors froze and burst. To terminate future freezing problem, Bailey installed a coil of pipe within the storage tank to act as a heat exchanger. Then he used an alcohol and water mixture as the antifreeze solution for his heat exchange medium. This system called as a “closed-loop” Solar Water Heating System.
Year 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter made the following prophetic statement at the inauguration of a solar-thermal water heater installed on the White House roof: “In the Year 2000, the solar heater behind me will still be here, supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken; or it can be just a small part of the greatest and most exciting adventure ever undertaken by the American people.” (Ondrey, 2009).

2.2 Introduction of Solar Water Heating System

One of the biggest uses of electricity, gas and oil is the heating of water in the home. Solar Water Heating System is a very simple and efficient way to grab energy from sun and use it. Solar Water Heater collects and converts solar radiation energy to useful thermal energy into the form of hot water. It essentially consists of solar collectors for absorbing and converting the solar energy and an insulated storage vessel or tank to contain the heated water. The amount of hot water a solar water heater produces depends on:-
type and size of the system
amount of sun available at the site
seasonal hot water demand pattern and installation of the system
Solar Water heater used in the homes for supplying domestic hot water are typically installed with some form of back-up heating system such as electricity to ensure a hot water supply during the night time and cloudy conditions. Solar water heater can be considered as per-heater. The Solar Water Heater raises the temperature of water before it enters the water tank.

2.3 Types of Solar Water Heating System

There are two types of Solar Water Heating Systems, either is active or passive. Both of the types are working on the same principles. The only difference is active systems have a pump moving the water through the Solar Water Heating System but passive systems rely on nature principles which is warm water rises to the top, and cold water sinks to the bottom. With a passive Solar Water Heating System, the water storage tank must therefore always be positioned above the solar water heater collector.

2.3.1 Active Solar Water Heating System

Active Solar Water Heaters rely on electric pumps, and the controllers to circulate water, or other heat-transfer fluids through the collectors. These are the types of Active Solar Water Heating System:-
Open loop active systems- circulate water directly from the tank through the collectors (Morrison, 2005, p.226). This design is efficient and also can lower operating costs if there is no problem with the water supply because of calcium deposits quickly build up in the collector.
Closed loop active systems- the heat transfer fluid is pumped through the collectors, and a heat exchanger is used to transfer heat from the collector loop to the water in the tank (Morrison, 2005, p.227). The two most common closed loop active systems are:-
Antifreeze- The heat transfer fluid is usually a glycol-water mixture with the glycol concentration depending on the expected minimum temperature. The glycol is usually food-grade propylene glycol because it is non-toxic.
Drainback systems- A type of indirect system, use pump to circulate water through the collectors. The water in the collector loop drains into a reservoir tank when the pumps stop. This makes drainback systems a good choice in colder climates. Drainback systems must be carefully installed to assure that the piping always slopes downward, so that the water will completely drain from the piping. This can be difficult to achieve in some circulation.
Active systems are usually more expensive and are less efficient than passive system of antifreeze measures are required. Active systems are more difficult to retrofit in houses that do not have basements because space must be found in house for additional equipment (Morrison, 2005, p.226).

2.3.2 Passive Solar Water Heating System

Passive Solar Water Heaters rely on gravity and the tendency for water to naturally circulate as it is heated. Due to they contain no electric components, passive systems are generally more reliable, easier to maintain, and possibly have a longer work life than active systems. The two most popular types of passive systems are:-
Integral-collector storage systems- combine tank and collector into one unit. These systems are simple and effective (Morrison, 2005, p.225). This system is only good in households with daytime and evening hot water needs due to high heat loss at night. The main limitation with this system concept is it is only a pre-heater and must be connected in series with a conventional water heater if a 24 hours hot water supply is required.
Thermosyphon systems- an economical and reliable choice, especially in new homes. These systems rely on the natural circulation of water between the collector and the tank or heat exchanger (Morrison, 2005, p. 223). The tank set up must above the collector due to achieve circulation during daytime and also to limit reverse circulation at nighttime. Water which is heated will rise naturally into the tank and cooler water flows down to the bottom of the collector, causing circulation throughout system.

2.4 Pros and Cons of Solar Water Heating System

2.4.1 Advantages of Solar Water Heating System

Installing a Solar Water Heater is an investment that will save our money for the coming years and it is simple to construct. It is almost free once the equipment is installed because of the “fuel” for the Solar Water Heater is getting from sun. Energy from the sun is renewable. So, we are protected from electricity bill increment year by year in the future. It is four times cheaper than electricity (Pandey and Banerjee, 1998, p.17). Besides that, it is environment free because it produces no greenhouse gases.
Solar Water Heater avoids nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other air pollutants created when electric water heater is used to heat water. Solar Water Heater reduces pollutants and contribute to a healthier environment Other than that, Solar Water Heater is extremely safe and clean. We will feel free from the problem which will occur by electric water heater because Solar Water Heater mostly no maintenance, repair work or cleaning is required. By choosing a Solar Water Heater to heat water in home, it is an intelligent, socially aware and environmentally responsible energy source.

2.4.2 Disadvantages of Solar Water Heating System

Although Solar Water Heating System consists of a lot of advantages, but it has its disadvantages also. First of all, Solar Water Heater will doesn’t work well on days when it is cloudy, over cast or raining. Besides that, it doesn’t work at nighttime. So, it is typically installed with electric water heater to ensure that hot water is supplied when the day is cloudy, overcast, raining or at night. Other than that, Cost of purchase Solar Water Heater is one the most critical issue. The initial cost of Solar Water Heater is high for Malaysian if compare to electric water heater. Many of the residents will not choose Solar Water heater due to its high initial cost. In addition, appearance of the house will affected due to the collector of Solar Water Heater is being installed on the roof.

2.5 Selecting a Solar Water Heater

Before purchasing and installing a Solar Water Heating System, we are required to do the following:-
· Consider into the economics of a Solar Water Heating System
· Consider into the needs of hot water required
· Determine the correct size for Solar Water Heating System
· Determine the energy efficiency of Solar Water Heating System
· Estimate and compare system costs

2.6 Method of Installation for Solar Water Heating System

The installation of a Solar Water Heater requires skills that overlap many trades. Installer needs to be familiar with plumbing, roofing and electrical. Here will shows the various steps and processes to install a Solar Water Heater. This Solar Water Heating System consists of flat-plate collector, a differential controller, several sensors, a pump, and various valves.

Step 1: Collector Mounting

Before start the installation, installer must verify that the roof is suitable for the condition of mounting of the solar collector. Installer has to ensure that the roof tiles are in satisfactory condition and the trusses are adequate to support the collector. In general, there is no problem for installing a solar collector on a traditional roof. Besides that, it is recommended that the solar collector to face to south or within 30º to 45 º east or west of due south.
The installer needs to locate the trusses that will be use to attach the solar mounting brackets. After installer locates the trusses, he will then makes preparation for the installing of the collector mounting clips. The collector will then attach to the clips. Installer will carefully remove the roof tiles where the mounting clips will be installed. Four mounting clips will be used to support the collector and also to distribute the weight at the four mounting locations. Lastly, solar collector installs on the mounting clips.

Step 2: Roof Pipe Flashing

First of all, installer needs to identify and mark down the locations of the piping penetrations. There will be two penetration-collector feed line and collector return line. In gravity drain system, the feed line should penetrate the roof below the collector. Then, make a flat copper flashing with an oversize collar to penetrate the fluid line.

Step 3: Piping from Tank to Collector

Installer will install the pipe that will connect the water heater to the solar connector. Normally, soft copper will be used in the attic run between the tank area components and the collector lines exits at the roof because by using soft copper, installer does not have to solder any fittings in the attic. Pipe hangers will be used in locations to secure the long piping runs. Besides that, insulation will be installed on all attic piping to prevent heat loss.

Step 4: Collector Feed line Piping

Installer will measure, cut and fit the pipe fittings for proper length. He will solder the piping and fittings once all of them have been attached correctly.

Step 5: Collector Return Line Plumbing

Installer will solder fittings that will accommodate the system air vent. The system can prevent air locks that will restrict flow in the system. Air vent is always install at the high point of system and in a true north vertical position. Then, installer will solder more fitting such as pressure relief valve.

Step 6: Storage Tank

Installer starts the installation for storage tank. this involves plumbing the water heater for cold service, hot outlet, collector feed and return lines. Installer will place insulation on all exposed piping once the piping has been installed to reduce heat loss during system operation. Lastly, he will set the thermostat on the water heater because although the majority of the how water is produced by solar energy, but when cloudy, overcast or nighttime, the electric elements are always the spare for it.

Step 7: Controller and Sensors

Installer will install controller and sensor for the system. The differential controller is the brains of solar system. It works with two sensors. One of it located at the hottest part of the system which is collector outlet. The other one is located at the coldest part of the system which is the bottom of the tank.

Step 8: Pump and Valves

A Solar Water Heating System consists of a variety of components. System pump also called as circulator is a critical component for Solar Water Heating System. Its function is to circulate the fluid from the tank to the collector. Then the fluid gains heat in the solar collector and return to the storage tank. Besides that, check valve, drain valves and isolation valves also the components to install.

Step 9: Pipe Insulation

The last step for installation process is pipe insulation. It is to prevent heat loss from the piping, so pipe insulation is installed on both external and internal system piping. After that, installer should provide the owner of the Solar Water Heater a system operation and maintenance manual.

2.7 A Comparison between Solar Water Heater and Electric Water Heater

Solartech (Summer)
CX – Direct Heating*
DH – 3HE1M**
DH – 3HT1M**
Type of Water Heater
Power Consumption
2.4 KW (back up heating element)
3.6 KW
3.6 KW
Selling Price / unit
RM 5,490.00
RM 639.00
RM 449.00
Selling Price (2 units)

RM 1,278
RM 1,098
Initial Cost (selling price + installation cost)
RM 5,690.00
RM 1428.00
RM 1248.00
Warranty (full warranty)
10 years
1 year
1 year
Operation Cost / year
RM 170.25
RM 1,109.67
RM 1,109.67
Operation Cost (10 years)
RM 1702.50
RM 11,096.70
RM 11,096.70
Total Cost (initial cost + operation cost) for 10 years without maintenance cost
RM 7,392.50
RM 12,374.70
RM 12,194.70
Environment Impact
Table 2. 1 Comparison between Solar Water Heater and Electric Water Heater
* Description is given by Solartech Sales & Service Sdn Bhd
** Description is given by Pansasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd
The table above shows the comparison between Solar Water Heater and Electric Water Heater. In the table, it is shown that the total cost for 10 years, environment impact and their operation cost. Firstly, for family consists of 6 persons considered as the study in the table. They installed 2 units of electric water heater in the toilets for their house or a unit of Solar Water Heater. Their need for hot water is 3 hours per day. Besides that, the study is estimating the total cost for 10 years.

2.7.1 Total Cost Method

Intention in this study is to let the operation time (N) of a system be variable to find the operation life of the systems. The total cost will be adapted in the study because it allows the comparison between the systems for 10 years time. In general, the total cost of a system can be expressed as the following equation:
Total Cost = Initial Cost + Operation Cost( 10years) Operation Cost (OC)

For Electric Water Heater, operation cost is the electrical bill cost over the year to provide hot water needs of the family consists of 6 persons. But for Solar Water Heater, the operation cost is yearly electrical bill cost for the back up heating system.
OCSWH = 12 months x NOCD x NOHs x price of electricity (RM/KWh)
Where, OCSWH operation cost of Solar Water Heater; NOCD number of cloudy day per month; NOHS number of hours switched back up heating system.
OCEWH = 365 days x NOH x price of electricity (RM/KWh)
Where, OCEWH operation cost of Electric Water Heater; NOH number of hours electricity is used to provide hot water.

2.7.2 Summary of the values of the parameter

Solartech (Summer)
CX – Direct Heating
DH – 3HE1M (2 units)
DH – 3HT1M (2 units)
Initial Cost = RM 5,690.00
OC = 12 months x NOCD x NOHs x price of electricity (RM/KWh)
= 12 months x 7 days/month x 3 hours x (2.4 KW x (RM 0.218 + RM 0.345)/2)
= RM 170.25
Total Cost = Initial Cost + (OC x 10 years)
= RM 5,690.00 + (RM 170.25 x 10)
= RM 7,392.50
Initial Cost = RM 1,278.00
OC = 365 days x NOH x price of electricity (RM/KWh)
= 365 days x 3 hours x (3.6 KW x (RM 0.218 + RM 0.345)/2)
= RM 1,109.67
Total Cost = Initial Cost + (OC x 10 years)
= RM 1,278.00 + (RM 1,109.67 x 10)
= RM 12,374.70
Initial Cost = RM 1,098.00
OC = 365 days x NOH x price of electricity (RM/KWh)
= 365 days x 3 hours x (3.6 KW x (RM 0.218 + RM 0.345)/2)
= RM 1,109.67
Total Cost = Initial Cost + (OC x 10 years)
= RM 1,098.00 + (RM 1,109.67 x 10)
= RM 12,194.70
Table 2. 2 Summary of the values of the paramater
From the table above, it is shown that Solar Water Heater is more economical and more attractive than the Electric Water Heater in long term. It is better for the family to use Solar Water Heater when compared to Electrical Water Heater. Besides that, it is more benefits to install Solar Water Heater because of long term economical benefits, environment friendly and a way to avoid from the problem of increasing electricity bill and increasing family size.


Ong, K. S. 1994. Solar Water Heater. Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia: University of Malaya.
Gordon, J. 2005. Solar Enegy The State of The Art. London: James & James (Science Publishers) Ltd.
Ondrey, G. 2009. ‘Solar’s Second Coming’. Chemical Engineering. pg. 18.
Pandey, J. L. and Banerjee M. K. 1998. ‘Energy Conservation with the Use of Solar Selective Coatings’. Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials. 45(1), pp. 16-24.
Davidson, Jane, Wood and Byard. 1996. ‘Solar Hot Water for the Home’. Mechanical Engineering. pg. 60.
European Journal of Scientific Research. 2009. ‘Economics of Domestic Solar Hot Water Heating Systems in Malaysia’. 26(1), pp. 20-28
Progress Report
Task to be completed
Second Year Semester 1 (Week)
July 05, 2009 – July 11, 2009
July 12, 2009 – July 18, 2009
July 19, 2009 – July 25, 2009
July 26, 2009 – Aug 01, 2009
Aug 02, 2009 – Aug 08, 2009
Aug 09, 2009 – Aug 15, 2009
Aug 16, 2009 – Aug 22, 2009
Aug 23, 2009 – Aug 29, 2009
Confirm Title
Finalise Proposal
1.0 Introduction
2.0 Literature review
Proposed Work Schedule
Actual Work Schedule
Task to be completed
Second Year Semester 1 (Week)
July 05, 2009 – July 11, 2009
July 12, 2009 – July 18, 2009
July 19, 2009 – July 25, 2009
July 26, 2009 – Aug 01, 2009
Aug 02, 2009 – Aug 08, 2009
Aug 09, 2009 – Aug 15, 2009
Aug 16, 2009 – Aug 22, 2009
Aug 23, 2009 – Aug 29, 2009
Confirm Title
Finalise Proposal

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Literature review

Every element had been done on time according to the proposed work progress except Chapter 1 Introduction. It should be done before August 01, 2009, but in stead it was done on August 22, 2009. The reason for the delay because of Introduction is revised proposal, so I decided to postpone it until the same with the date of completion for literature review.
For Literature Review, I started it a week earlier than the proposed work schedule due to I need longer time to search information from TARC library and internet. Besides that, I also needed to get the quotation from supplier so that I started my literature review earlier. Luckily, everything in progress and I finished my literature review on time. My supervisor, Mr. Teh Bin Sin checked my works on August 20, 2009 and I printed out all the chapters for interim submission.
Report on Changes Involved
Date (Week)
Issue of Changes
Issue of Amendment
July 05, 2009 – July 11,2009
Project Title
‘A Comparison between Solar Water Heating System and Electric Water Heater’
changed to
‘A Study into Solar Water Heating System in Malaysian Homes’
The project title changed because ‘A Study into Solar Water Heating System in Malaysian Homes’ is more specific and to fulfill requirement of supervisor.
July 26, 2009 – August 01, 2009
‘To compare the initial cost, price, durability, maintenance cost and environment impact for solar water heating system and electric water heater’
changed to
‘To compare the initial cost, price, durability, and environment impact for solar water heating system and electric water heater’
Due to the comment from supplier, which is maintenance cost is difficult to calculate or estimate for the following 10 years for water heater, so I decided to take out the comparison of maintenance cost in objective.

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