Most engineers call it "integrated design", but green systems installers like to use the word "holistic" because it rings of holistic therapy, holistic medicine and other natural alternatives that work just as well as their traditional counterparts. But what is it?
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There are two parts to maximizing solar gain through windows: direct gain and indirect gain. The more obvious and common of the two is direct gain – using the sunlight that comes through the windows and heats the air and thermal mass in the home by falling directly on objects and walls.
In many cases, mounting the heat exchanger is one of the easiest parts of system installation, especially if you buy a pre-packaged kit; you just put the module on the storage tank and tighten a few unions. However, you may decide to construct your own heat exchanger from individual parts. In any case, the first step is to install the storage tank, then attach the exchanger.
Good plumbing is a return on investment in itself. Proper plumbing, carefully planned and implemented with professional soldering and workmanship can last 100 years, so it's worth doing it right. If you're a newbie, you will want to either practice beforehand or employ a skilled professional.
Before you start any serious plumbing work, make sure you have the right tools. Your system schematic (you did create one, didn't you?) will tell you how much piping you need, as well as all the fittings and other consumables required.
You will also need:
There is a definite art to plumbing with copper pipes. Thankfully it's fairly quick to learn, though your first few cuts and joins are likely to produce amateur results. If you've never installed copper pipes before, buy some extra parts and practice!
If you're new to plumbing, you will want to practice soldering pipes before you try your skills on an actual solar thermal installation. It's not difficult but it's extremely important to do the job well or you'll get leaks and other problems. Practice makes perfect!
Back when modern radiant floor systems were first installed, copper or steel pipes were used. They were embedded in concrete under the floor and hot water ran through them to heat the building. It doesn't take a genius to see where the problems came from: