In Summary
  • A tank should have a magnesium rod to absorb impurities in the water to minimise corrosion. The rod is cleaned after a year to ensure the safety of the tank.
  • To protect consumers from substandard products, industry players want the government to come up with regulations to govern importation of solar panels and electronic gadgets.

About two years ago when the government began enforcing a new regulation compelling property owners to instal solar water heating systems on their buildings, two things happened.

On one hand, businessmen rushed to import solar water heating systems to meet the anticipated big boom, and on the other dozens of property owners were burning their fingers after sinking millions of shillings to acquire sham water heating systems.

The directive, whose compliance deadline elapsed in November 2017, aimed at lowering demand for electricity and lifting pressure off the existing power generation plants by tapping into off-grid renewable energy solutions.

Thus the requirement for new buildings, or extensions, to be fitted with water heaters.

DEMAND

The solar water heating regulations of 2012 required owners of residential buildings with at least three bedrooms or whose hot water consumption exceeded 100 litres a day to instal a solar water heating system.

The regulation also targeted hotels, restaurants, hostels, lodges, boarding schools and colleges with over 200 students, and laundries that handle more than 20 kilos of clothes a day.

Mr Eric Ouma, a Nairobi resident, is one of the homeowners who have complied, hoping to cut down the electricity bill. He spent more than Sh2 million to put up the house.

According to International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, World Energy Outlook 2016, solar water heater technology, owing to enhanced efficiency and cost reduction, has been expanding at a rate of 17 per cent per year since 2000, and has been further forecast to account for the highest product demand in the coming decades.

QUALITY

Mr Ouma, however, says he has also tasted the bitter end of the stick. He approached a dealer in town who installed the kit at a reasonable cost. But it did not take long before the tank began leaking.

Normally, for residential buildings, a solar water heating system - which comprises a water tank and several tubes or flat plate collectors - is fitted on the rooftop.

If the equipment is of poor quality, the tank begins leaking and the water seeps past the roof to the ceiling, damaging it and your house.

To avoid similar situations, experts say consumers must be exposed to precautionary measures, for example product awareness, to safeguard their interests.

Providers advise that there are many factors, aside from cost, that homeowners need to consider when acquiring a water heating system.

TANK FEATURES

Manoj Bakshi - the chief executive officer and founder of Mayu Solar - says that technology used in welding the solar water tank is one of the most critical factor in determining the quality of the system.

He says the water tank, quality of the tank and welding technology used in designing the tank must also be considered.

Page 1 of 2