July 19, 2019

Solar Water Heating


At Burnbrae Farms we are proud to produce nutritious affordable eggs for Canadians while working to protect and enrich the environment. As part of that commitment, we closely monitor energy and water use, divert waste from landfills, recycle and compost eggshells, and reuse the water used to wash the eggs.  We are constantly researching projects to look at ways to reduce our GHG energy use. One of these projects is the use of solar water heaters in a test run by the Poultry Operations team using solar energy to heat the water used in the office.

What Is A Solar Water Heater?

A solar water heater is a cost-effective type of water heater that converts sunlight into heat. They can be used for residential or commercial buildings and can be used in any type of climate with a reasonable amount of sunlight. These systems also can operate independently or in conjunction with electric or gas heaters.

How Do They Work?

When it comes to solar water heating, there are two types of systems that can be implemented – a direct system or an indirect system. The key differences between these systems is that a direct system circulates and heats potable water directly, whereas an indirect system circulates heat-transfer fluid and uses a heat exchanger to transfer heat from the fluid to the water.

While both types of systems have their advantages and disadvantages, here at Burnbrae Farms, we have piloted our project with the use four solar water heaters on an indirect system at the poultry office.

There are four main steps to heating the water in the indirect system:

Step 1: The system starts at the bottom of the solar storage tank, where tubes allow cold water to flow into the tank.

Step 2: The solar loop starts up and pumps heat transfer fluid through solar evacuated tubes, to the solar collector (also known as a solar panel).

Step 3: The sun hits the solar collector at 90 degrees and vacuums the most amount of energy possible before losing energy to the environment. The evacuated tubes then trap the heat from the sun and transfer it into the fluid.

Step 4: As the fluid moves through the solar evacuated tube collector and is heated up, it then is pumped back down into a heat exchanger, found in the storage tank, heating the water inside the storage tank.

Ultimately, we use this technology because it is highly efficient and relatively simple to use.

What Are The Results?

At Burnbrae Farms, the poultry office requires hot water for several purposes. Some of the uses include the hot water required for washing laundry associated with biosecurity regulations and for washrooms in the facility, to name a few. Yet, the solar water heater not only produces enough energy to heat the water required throughout the poultry office, but can also produce excess energy which we have been able to use in the winter to heat the rooms in the office and blow hot air into the building between the poultry office and the main inline. This project has been successful resulting in a 25% savings on energy costs.

Why Did We Do This and Where Can This Lead?

We have been impressed with the overall results of this project. A key goal was to prove that a solar water heater could be highly efficient and sustainable with the potential to roll out in other areas of our business.

“We are impressed with the results this pilot project! Installing a solar water heater in the poultry office has enabled us to reduce our costs along with the amount of energy we consume through non-sustainable energy sources, substituting our current energy sources for a more environmentally friendly source. Ultimately, this project has allowed us to become even more efficient in our use of energy. We are excited to see where this leads in the future!” – John Heuthorst, Director of Poultry Operations

Solar water heating is just one of the many programs we have researched and developed in order to reduce our non-sustainable energy consumption. As a company founded on family farm values, we are an industry leader and proud to play our part in producing nutritious, affordable eggs for Canadians while working to protect our natural environment.

Solar Water Heater: Evacuated Tube Solar Water Heating Collectors & Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.solarpanelsplus.com/residential/solar-water-heating-evacuated-tubes/

Solar water heating. (2019, July 15). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_heating