Even though Integral Collector Storage Systems share familiar elements of design and functionality with flat-plate Solar Water Heater geysers, there are some differences. In fact, ICS (also referred to as batch or bread box) systems are a little less complicated.
Where the flat-plate system separates the collectors and the tank, ICS combine them. In the world of water heater geysers, this means there’s no need for circulation pumps or electronic controls.
They are the simplest way to approach an alternative way of heating water and they are perfectly suited for South African weather.
How ICS Systems Work
When searching for simplicity within water heater geysers, ICS is the way to go. The installation is also surprisingly quick. They consist of large tubes that range between 100mm and 200mm in diameter, which is another difference compared to flat-plate collectors.
The storage tank is typically painted with a black coating and it’s inserted into an insulated enclosure.
The tubes are made of heat absorbing copper and are attached to a heat absorbing backplate. Like any typical geyser will do, cold water goes into the tank, where it gets heated and stored. When you open the warm water the hot water will leave the tank, either through gravity or the pressure from the cold water filling the tank.
This is regarded as a passive system because it doesn’t require any electricity to operate, only sunlight.
The newer models will probably make use of thermosyphon systems, which is considered more reliable and doesn’t cost as much. It’s a natural way of circulating hot water.
The cycle starts at the bottom of the tank and as the water gets heated it gradually moves to the top of the tank.
The cold water flows downward via pipes, where it gets heated and follows the cycle.
Why Consider A Solar Water Heater Geyser
The most obvious reason for integrating a batch Solar Water Heater geyser is the fact that you don’t require any sensors or controls. Nor do you require any pumps. Given that there are no moving mechanical parts, maintenance isn’t a high priority.
Then, of course, it’s a rather convenient way of heating water thanks to the combination of the tank and the collector. Last but not least, they last very long.
There are Some Challenges
Unfortunately, these types of water heater geysers aren’t always the perfect option. It’s heavier than a flat-plate collector, commonly placed on the floor or against the wall. Take your typical weather situation into consideration, you don’t want the water to freeze inside the collector.
Batch solar geysers are prone to lose their heat quickly during the night, so they aren’t the most efficient choice.