The time variations of the water temperatures at the midpoint of the heat storage tank and at the outlet of the collector in a conventional open-loop passive solar water-heating system combined with sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate-phase change material (PCM) were experimentally investigated during November and then enhancement of solar thermal energy storage performance of the system by comparing with those of conventional system including no PCM was observed. It was observed that the water temperature at the midpoint of the storage tank decreased regularly by day until the phase-change temperature of PCM after the intensity of solar radiation decreased and then it was a constant value of 45 degreesC in a time period of approximately 10 h during the night until the sun shines because no hot water is used. Heat storage performances of the same solar water-heating system combined with the other salt hydrates-PCMs such as zinc nitrate hexahydrate, disodium hydrogen phosphate dodecahydrate, calcium chloride hexahydrate and sodium sulfate decahydrate (Glauber's salt) were examined theoretically by using meteorological data and thermophysical properties of PCMs with some assumptions. It was obtained that the storage time of hot water, the produced hot water mass and total heat accumulated in the solar water-heating system having the heat storage tank combined with PCM were approximately 2.59-3.45 times of that in the conventional solar water-heating system. It was also found that the hydrated salts of the highest solar thermal energy storage performance in PCMs used in theoretical investigation were disodium hydrogen phosphate dodecahydrate and sodium sulfate decahydrate. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.