According to recent technology road maps, system cost reductions and development of standardised plug-and-function systems are some of the most important goals for solar heating technology development. Retrofitting hot water boilers in single-family houses when installing solar collectors has the potential to significantly reduce both material and installation costs. Previous studies have investigated such retrofitting, using theoretical simulations and laboratory tests, but no actual installations were made and tested in practice. This article describes the installation, measured performance and cost effectiveness of a retrofitting solution that converts existing domestic hot water heaters to a solar domestic hot water system. The measured performance is characterised by the monthly and annual solar fractions. The cost effectiveness is evaluated by a life-cycle cost analysis, comparing the retrofitted system to a conventional solar domestic hot water system and the case without any solar heating system. Measurements showed that approximately 50% of the 5000 kWh/year of domestic hot water consumption was saved by the retrofitted system in south Sweden. Such savings are in agreement with previous estimations and are comparable to the energy savings when using a conventional solar domestic hot water system. The life-cycle cost analysis showed that, according to the assumptions and given climate, the return on investment of the retrofitted system is approximately 17 years, while a conventional system does not reach profitability during its lifetime of 25 years.
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