United States Patent [19]


[11] Patent Number: 4,930,492

[45] Date of Patent: Jun. 5,1990


[76] Inventor: Albert C. Rich, 12811 Bexhill Ct.,
Herndon, Va. 22071

[21] Appl. No.: 367,017

[22] Filed: Jun. 16, 1989

[51] Int. Cl.5 F24J 2/40

[52] U5. Cl 126/420; 126/422; 126/435; 126/450; 137/533.11

[58] Field of Search 126/420, 422, 450, 435, 126/436, 400, 416, 448; 137/533.11, 533.21

[56] References Cited


Primary E:xaminer—James C. Yeung
Attorney. Agent, or Firm—Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner


A solar water heating system comprising a solar energy collector which comprises a solar energy absorber communicating with a fluid distribution manifold, a drainback tank communicating with the distribution manifold for collecting drainage fluid from the distribution manifold, a pump activated by a differential controller, and a heat exchanger within a water storage tank. The distribution manifold comprises a floating valve header which seals the manifold during fluid feed and allows air to pass during non-active periods.

15 Claims, 3 Drawing Sheets



1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an improved solar water heating system and related water supply and return manifold system employing a floating valve.

2. Description of the Prior Art

The sun is a source of clean, cheap and abundant energy. Greater use of solar energy helps to conserve natural resources and preserve the natural environment.

The benefits of using solar energy have captured and spurred the imagination of many to develop systems to harness solar energy. The most common systems which have been developed are heating systems, and particularly, water heating systems. Examples of systems which have already been developed include those systems disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,257,479; 4,324,228; 4,326,499; 4,381,816; 4,399,808; 4,409,959; 4,483,320; and 4,562,828..

There are many reasons why solar water heating systems should be popular. Most notable of which are the inherent cost effeciency and environmental benefits. Additionally, the solar heated water can be either used immediately or stored for later use. Heated water can also be used directly, e.g., for heating swimming pools, washing, as well as indirectly, e.g., for space heating via heat extraction..

Most, if not all, currently available solar water heating systems, however, are mechanically complex and impractical for domestic or residential use. Not only do they pose manufactunng, production and installation problems, but they also suffer from intensive parts and personal service maintenance requirements. Additionally, currently available solar water heating systems require a high initial investment cost, and this investment cost can only be recouped from savings in heating costs over many years of consistent use. Accordingly, although current pollution problems and increases in fuel pnces have prompted a strong demand for a costeffective solar water heating system for residential applications, the currently available systems, which are complicated, expensive, difficult to install, aesthetically unattractive, and susceptable to freezing conditions are not able to fulfill that demand..

One of the problems which has plagued the development of solar water heating systems is the dilemma of designing a circulation system which provides for efficient heat transfer without fluid flow blockage and/or fluid line breakage while protecting against freezing temperatures. Many approaches have been made to solve these problems. However, most of these approaches have produced complex mechanisms which not only have high initial investment costs but are also expensive to maintain, difficult to operate and which may cause "user trauma" during periods of cold weather because of a lack of confidence in the antifreeze protection devices. Accordingly, the goal of providing a simple, low-cost and low-maintenance solar water heating system which effectively solves the above problems and satisfies the demand for residential applications has not previously been fulfilled..


The objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. Additional objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the specification and the appended claims. Additionally, the-teachings of the above-cited U.S. patents are incorporated herein by reference.

To achieve the foregoing objects and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, there is disclosed a solar water heating system comprising:.

wherein said fluid distribution manifold is positioned at an angle relative to a horizontal plane to allow for self-drainage when the pump is inactivated and comprises: