In areas with hard water, scaling can reduce the reliability of solar hot water (SHW) systems. Common reliability problems associated with scaling are both mechanical (collector freeze damage, clogged passages, premature failure of pumps and valves) and thermal (efficiency degradation). A mechanistic and a mathematical scaling rate model are presented. Results from controlled experiments investigating the effect of key water chemistry and heat transfer parameters on the scaling rate are summarized. The implications of these results for designing SHW systems for scaling environments are discussed. Most importantly, indirect systems where the potable water side of the heat exchanger is integrated into the storage tank wall, such as in a wrap-around heat exchanger, are shown to be the most mechanically and thermally reliable systems for scaling environments. A new version of the software SolScale is discussed, which is intended to aid in the design of SHW systems to reduce scaling related reliability problems.

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