Are solar water heaters worth the price?

One of the most widely used ways for households to lower their electric expenses is to install a solar water heater. These systems supply large amounts of hot water while using renewable energy to lessen the requirement for grid power.

We’ll go over common manufacturers, give advice on how to choose the best one for you, and most importantly, show you how much money you can save by using solar hot water heaters in this blog.

What is a solar water heater?

Solar water heaters don’t utilize electricity from the grid to heat water, in contrast to conventional water heaters. Instead, these energy-efficient appliances employ specialized rooftop solar collectors to capture energy from the sun. Your home’s water is heated using the solar energy that has been collected.

Historically, solar water heaters have been very popular since they lower your electric bill and let you heat your water with green energy. Your home receives no more solar energy from the solar collectors; they merely use it to directly heat your water.

People are now choosing electric heat pump water heaters that are connected to residential solar panel installations. While electric heat pumps can still work on solar electricity when linked with a home solar system, they do require grid energy to heat your water.

A standalone solar water heater can be a wonderful choice if you can’t build a whole house solar system or if you live off the grid.

How do solar water heaters work?

The majority of your daily household hot water needs can be met by solar water heating systems.

For both household and commercial use, there are primarily two types of solar water heaters available:

  1. Active solar water heaters
  2. Passive solar water heaters

Each of these works differently and consists of different equipment. 

Active solar water heaters 

With active solar water heaters, hot water is transferred from the solar collectors, or absorbers, to your residence using a pump. As the water is held in a tank that can be kept indoors to prevent freezing, these are typically placed in regions with colder weather.

Active solar water heaters come in two varieties:

  • Active direct systems, where the water is heated directly in collectors and is then sent to your faucet and showerheads. The solar collectors are usually metal or glass tubes.
  • Active indirect systems, in which a heat transfer fluid, like propylene glycol, is heated up within the solar collectors, and then transfers the heat to the water supply with a heat exchanger in a closed-loop system. Some heat loss occurs while the transfer fluid circulates the system. 

Passive solar water heaters 

Pumps that circulate hot water are not used by passive solar water heaters. Instead, they use convection, a system of water circulation in which hotter water rises to the surface and colder water sinks.

Since they don’t need specialized machinery to pump the water, passive solar water systems are typically less expensive than active ones.

Passive solar water heaters can be divided into two categories:

  • Integral collector solar water heaters are large, black water storage tanks that are built into an isolated box with a top that lets sunlight through. The sunlight heats the water directly in the black tanks, which then flows into your plumbing system when you need hot water.
  • Passive thermosyphon systems use metal flat plate collectors to heat small batches of water on your roof. When you open your hot water valves, hot water in the top of the batch collector flows down from your roof to your faucets. These usually are designed to contain 40 gallons of water. 

Many passive systems include a tankless heater as a backup energy source, which can either be gas or electric.

What are the most popular brands of solar water heaters?

More businesses are producing solar heaters as solar technology finds more uses in our daily lives. These are some of the most well-liked models currently available.

  • Duda Diesel manufactures machinery that uses biodiesel and other alternative fuels. They offer a range of solar water heaters for residential and commercial use.
  • Sunbank Solar produces collectors, pumps, plates, and other components for solar water heating systems.
  • SunEarth offers a range of solar energy solutions for homes and businesses, including solar water heating systems and elements.
  • Apricus and Rheem are two of the more popular solar water heaters.

Depending on the type and size of system you purchase, the cost of a solar hot water heater will vary.

While bigger active systems could cost you more than $10,000, smaller passive solar water heaters could cost as little as $3,000 or as much as $3,000.

Each type of solar water heating system works best in different environments.

  • Direct systems perform best in regions without many periods of below-freezing weather. Direct active systems are more resistant to freezing damage in colder areas.
  • Do you want your solar heating system to serve two purposes? Purchase a system for indirect circulation. In between heating your home’s water supply and heating your pool or spa, the heating fluid can be redirected.
  • Families who use more hot water throughout the daytime reap the benefits of passive systems that are integrated. Family members won’t have to worry about running out of hot water for morning showers because to the production of numerous little batches of warmed water.
  • possess a larger roof than ground area? Your roof can accommodate a thermosyphon solar water heater, giving you extra room inside.
  • Make sure your roof can sustain the weight of a hefty water tank because integral collector storage systems can weigh over 400 pounds.

You should also think about your budget, how much hot water you use every day, and how much sunlight your property receives.

Look for ratings from the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation while comparing solar water heater options (SRCC). SRCC ratings give you the ability to quickly contrast various brands and models using qualified third-party data.

Since every property is different, you should also get professional advice to make sure you select the best system for your house. To understand more about the equipment that has been recommended for your project, speak with a local installation.

How much money can you save with a solar water heater?

Solar water heaters need a significant upfront expenditure, sometimes in the neighborhood of $5,000.

A solar hot water system will, however, gradually begin to pay for itself after installation by lowering your utility costs. In actuality, solar hot water heaters may typically reduce your water heating costs by 50% to 80%!

When the solar payback period is through, your solar water heater will continue to produce almost free hot water for the remainder of its useful life. Additionally, solar water heaters have comparatively cheap maintenance expenses because they don’t have any moving parts.

Keep in mind that you might need to employ a backup grid-tied hot water system depending on how much hot water you consume.

You must know the following information to determine your potential savings:

  • How much hot water your family needs on a daily basis.
  • The cost of fueling your backup heater. Contact your local utility company for more information on energy costs for backup heaters.
  • The SRRC or solar energy factor rating for your intended equipment. These numbers give you an idea of how efficiently your appliance will use gathered solar power.
  • How much of your hot water use occurs during daylight hours. Using more hot water when there’s less sun available means more reliance on pricey grid energy.
  • The life expectancy of your solar water heating system. The longer your heating system components last, the more money you’ll save.

You may calculate the annual operating cost of your solar water heater using this information. To determine how much energy you could save by switching to solar, compare this to your usual monthly electricity costs.

What rebates and incentives are available for solar water heaters?

A credit equal to 30% of the costs of installing a solar water heater is available through the Clean Energy Tax Credit, often known as the federal solar tax credit. Therefore, let’s assume that your solar water heater costs $5,000. As a result of the $1,300 tax credit, your system will only cost you $3,500 overall.

The installation of certain devices may also qualify you for special discounts or rebates from your local utility provider. For instance, Hawaii Energy gives customers who install solar water heaters reimbursements of $750.

To reduce your utility bills without sacrificing comfort, look for a solar water heater installer in your neighborhood.

Should I get a solar water heater or a home solar panel system?

Before a few years ago, solar water heaters were a common choice. Nowadays, it’s more common for households to install a solar panel installation.

Why? because solar panels have become so much more affordable recently. Combining a domestic solar panel system with an electric water heater is the most economical choice. The solar panel system will pay for both your hot water bills and your entire home’s electricity costs. Additionally, even the best solar water heaters are inefficient compared to electric water heaters.

Solar water heaters can, of course, be beneficial in some situations. When it comes to heating water, they are more efficient than solar panels. Only the water needs to be heated by sunlight; no electricity needed to power a system to do so.

In comparison to a full solar system, solar water heaters also require much less roof area. Solar hot water heaters may be the greatest option for you to use solar energy if you have severe space restrictions.

Both solar panel systems and solar water heaters can be installed by local solar providers. Additionally, they’ll be able to decide whether obtaining just one or both would be ideal for you. Contact a reputable local solar energy contractor in your region for further details, including how much a solar energy system for your home would cost.

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