For individuals and families trying to go green, a solar water heater is an excellent investment. It helps you save on electricity or gas, depending on what type of water heater you have, and it is eligible for a number of tax rebates and credits so you end up saving that money for cheaper or even for free.
As one of the largest energy consumers in your home, a conventional hot water tank is pretty wasteful. A hot water tank has to heat up all the water in the tank just to use a fraction of it, and then when the water gets cold, it has to expend the energy to heat it all up again. By harnessing the sun’s energy, you don’t need to see high electricity or gas bills again. According to Energy Star, a solar water heater can cut your water heating costs in half or even more.
Using solar power to heat your water is cost-effective, energy efficient, and, after an initial investment, free. The technology for solar hot water heating has been around for more than fifty years, and in some parts of the world – notably Israel – solar hot water heaters are quite common. Below, you’ll find a closer look at how solar hot water heating works, what types of set-ups are available, and pros and cons.
The two basic components of a solar hot water heater are the storage tank and the solar collector. The tank itself, like other hot water heaters, should be well-insulated, with an outlet and inlet that feeds into the solar collector. Some solar hot water heaters are two-tank set-ups, with a tank that pre-heats water, then feeds it into a regular water heater.
Additionally, you can opt for a passive solar water heating system, or an active solar water heating system. The active type includes controls and circulating pumps, whereas the passive system does not. In a passive system, you literally use the sun itself to heat the water directly, without relying upon a solar panel.