with the world's most efficient solar water heater.
magazine has named him among its "Heroes for the Planet"
By Lam Seng Fatt
The hottest solar water heater in the world is proudly designed and made
in Malaysia and can be tested at a double-link house in Subang Jaya where
a demo model has been set up. Striking when the iron is hot, the designer
has now set his sights on creating a solar-powered air-conditioner.
Inventing the hottest, most efficient solar water heater in the world has
won its designer Teoh Siang Teik not only an international patent by the
World Intellectual Property Organisation but also the honour of being named
one of Time magazine's Heroes for The Planet last month.
Brandnamed Microsolar, Teoh's solar water heater beats the competition
by more than 20 deg. On one recent extremely hot day, the water was as
hot as 82 deg.
During the coldest period of any day, which is at dawn, his solar heater
produces 60 deg. water which is some 20 degrees hotter than the maximum
temperature of water from a normal electrical water heater in the shower.
His solar water heater comes without any electrical back-up heating coil.
Other solar water heaters (except a Nasa-designed system using freon heating
fluid) have electrical water heaters as back-up in case the water is not
hot enough during rainy or cloudy days.
In some cases, the inefficiency is made worse by clogged pipes due to sedimentation
and the water is often heated more by electricity than the sun and power
costs incurred do not justify buying such solar water heaters.
Not to mention that such poorly-designed solar water heaters are not "green"
and actually add to pollution by consuming electrical power.
Teoh, an architect and "greenie", modified existing technology to create
his solar water heater. Most designs are based on a 1976 Japanese patent
which is an inefficient design in that hot water is forced to travel an
unnecessarily long distance through pipes to get to the water tank.
In his patented design, the pipes travel straight into the tank and the
efficiency of the thermosyphonic flow is reflected in the hotter water.
To make it even hotter, his newer version solar water heater has extra
black plastic pipes on a reflective surface to trap infrared rays and heat
the water a little more even during cloudy days. All the pipes are covered
with double glazing for the greenhouse effect to trap even more heat.
The main set of pipes are copper sandwiched with aluminium for maximum
conductivity and they last longer than HDPE polymers. At the bottom of
the panel, the pipes can be opened to drain away sediments.
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