Installation & Maintenance

Locating and Installing a Solar Water Heater

Installing a solar water heating system is not complex, however in general we would recommend that you consult a professional when it comes to mounting and connecting the collectors. Any qualified plumber should be able to tackle the piping aspects, though a home-handyman can save some of the up-front costs (installation typically comprises 20-25% of the total project expense) by doing the work themselves. Local municipalities should be contacted by prospective owners in case there are by-laws which may affect collector placement, electrical or plumbing work, or if a plumbing permit is required.

General Site Notes

  • Collectors should receive direct sunlight between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Ideally, the collectors should be oriented due south, though performance is not adversely affected by reasonable variations (generally within 15 degrees). Also, remember that the magnetic North as read by a compass is NOT true north, therefore it is best to consult a topographic map, available at your municipality.
  • Mount collectors at an angle equal to your latitude. For example, if your latitude is 45 degrees, collectors should be mounted at a tilt angle of 45 degrees. The tilt angle refers to the angle of the panels in relation to the horizon. Not sure about your latitude? Check here
  • The distance from the storage tank to the collectors should be made as minimal as possible, thus avoiding increased costs associated with lengthy pipe runs and pump operation.
  • There should also be a small space next to the existing water heater, where the solar storage tank can be located. You will need space for a solar hot water tank, or a tank and an external heat exchanger (about 2x 2 1/2 ft).

Your roof is most often the best choice for mounting the collectors, although if required, it is possible to locate them elsewhere on a dedicated support structure. There are options available to suit most all situations, including;

  • Roof - flush mounted (provided roof pitch is suitable)
  • Roof - rack mounted ( brackets raise the top of the collectors to the optimum tilt angle)
  • Wall - rack mounted
  • Ground - rack mounted

Additionally, allowances can be made when sizing the system if the particular site does not meet the ideal requirements laid out above.

System Maintenance Checklist

To keep the system running at highest performance various components of your solar hot water system will need inspection and maintenance from time to time. The main items requiring attention are shown below, organized by the frequency with which they should be taken care of.


Controller - check that both the power and output diagnostic lights are functioning.

Pump - listen for excessive noise and/or vibration, checking for leaks. Verify proper operating pressure (normal pressure varies by system, refer to owners documentation) and service the cleanout strainer.

Piping & Insulation - ensure seal integrity at building penetrations, check for clogs or leaks in air vent, fluid leaks, material degradation or sagging supports.


Solar Collectors* - inspect glazing for damage, excessive condensation, and any fluid leaks. Also, give the collectors a good wash with a mild soap solution.

Support Structure* - verify structural integrity (make sure bolts are good and tight) and check for evidence of fluid leaks.

Valves - check proper valve positions (refer to owners documentation).

Glycol - check the pH, it should be at 8.0 or higher, and fluid freeze point should be -40°C but no higher than -20°C.(Glycol is tested with optional system service kit.)

* also check for damage after high wind conditions or a heavy snowfall

Warranty Information

Nexus Solar warrants that all solar water heating systems supplied to the original owner are free of defects in material and are of high quality workmanship. If any system is found to be defective due to faulty materials or workmanship Nexus Solar will replace or repair at its option the defective unit. The solar collectors are warranted for ten (10) years, however other components of a complete Solar Domestic Hot Water system may be covered under various other manufacturers warranties. The warranty is valid only if the system has been installed in accordance with the installation instructions. The warranty does not cover:
  • labour, mileage, or travel time for repair
  • damage through any misuse, abuse, negligence or accident
  • normal fading and minor deterioration of exterior and interior surfaces
    resulting from exposure to the elements
  • freeze damage
  • glass breakage
  • unusual water conditions such as salt

©2006 Nexus Solar Corporation.