Solar Energy: Your Questions and Answers


SolarUK: Glossary

Buffer vessel

A tank storing heated water in anticipation of variable demand requirements.

This term covers any tanks used to store heated water to cope with either variable heat input or variable demand requirements in the context of solar energy produced by the panels.

The volume of water in the buffer vessel absorbs any heat available but surplus to, or not needed for, the present requirements. Solar heat can be delivered to a buffer vessel where it is collected until the volume temperature has exceeded the temperature of the volume water which it will replace. At this point control components will allow exchange of the solar heated water with cooler water. The objective is to increase the temperature of the replaced volume by solar energy rather than other means. The buffer vessel provides additional solar dedicated volume which can be heated in periods of low hot water demand and high solar gain. The energy can then be stored and used at a later date. In addition, buffer vessels can be used to accumulate solar energy which is available but not at a high enough temperature to directly transfer heat to a desired destination until circumstances are suitable (such as after a peak draw-off period).

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Other Associated glossary terms : Commercial

Solar Thermal
The collection of the sun's energy as heat rather than converting it to electricity.

Vacuum Tube Solar Collector
This is a technology that uses a glass tube, think of a long thermos flask to insulate the solar collector and ensure that effectively all solar energy is retained.

Feed in Tariff
A method to reward the producer of renewable energy (electricity) by paying a fixed amount of money for each unit of electricity generated.

Recirculation - pumped secondary
Pipework carrying secondary hot water.

Sequential heating arrangement
The heating that occurs as the solar thermal system heats the water before the conventional heat source provides any necessary additional heating.

Heat store
Stores the suns energy as heat captured by the collector.

Refers to any period when the heat transfer fluid is not circulating, even though the solar panel is receiving the suns energy.

Primary and secondary systems
This refers to the water travelling round the boiler and the water in the cylinder which is heated by it.

Stratification / de-stratification
The layering of hot water on colder water.

Expansion vessel
A trapped volume of pressurised air or gas inside a steel vessel to allow for the expansion that accompanies temperature increases.

Buffer vessel
A tank storing heated water in anticipation of variable demand requirements.

Pre-feed cylinder
A cylinder placed between the cold water feed and the existing hot water cylinder.

Any pipe with several outlets to or from other pipes, or a junction of pipes.

A water storage vessel, which has the capability to increase the temperature of the water contained within it.

The controller compares the different temperatures at specific locations in the solar systems circuit.

Circulation module / Pump module
Operates the heat transfer system.

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