Solar water heaters: The need-to-know


Solar water heaters: The need-to-know

When it comes to saving money and energy resources, solar water heaters can be a good way to warm your home's water and cool down your heating bill.

But as it is with other solar options, you'll want to calculate all the costs to determine if it's an option to pursue. While a solar water heating unit generally costs more than a non-solar water heater, it's possible to experience savings in the long run.

Going solar on your hot water heater, which means you let the sunshine heat and/or preheat your water, saves about half on hot water costs during a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you use solar in conjunction with a backup gas storage water heater, you'll save on average, $140 a year. That will add up to $2,900 during the life of the unit. You'll see even bigger savings if you have an electric tank water heater as a backup. Your savings could be as much as $5,200 over the life of the solar unit.

In addition to saving you money during the long haul, using a solar water heater reduces carbon dioxide emissions — as much as 4,000 pounds a year. If you have no idea what to relate that to, consider this — it's about the amount produced when driving your car for four months.

There are two types of heating systems: active solar water heating systems and passive solar water heating systems.

Active systems

When it comes to active systems, you can opt for direct circulation systems or indirect circulation systems. The determining factor is generally your climate. The direct version circulates water by the collectors and into the home. These will function best in warmer climates where there freezing temperatures are very infrequent or nonexistent.

For those whose winters involve frequent dips below 32 degrees, an indirect circulation system circulates a fluid that doesn't freeze and transfers heat in the collectors and onto a heat exchanger. The water is then heated up and then travels into the home.

Passive systems

A passive system might be less expensive, but it can also be less efficient. But on the bright side, they tend to last longer and be more reliable. In warmer climates, the first choice is usually the integral collector storage passive system. These are also a good choice if you use a lot of hot water during the day and evening.

Another option, a Thermosyphon System, lets water flow through the system when warm water rises and cooler water sinks. In order for this to work, the collector needs to be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These systems are reliable, but you need to be cautious of the roof and make sure you have a design that can support a heavy storage tank. They are usually more expensive than integral collector storage passive systems.

For answers to your questions about solar water heaters or any other plumbing issue, contact the Pink Plumber today.