Using a Solar Water Heater to Get Efficient Heat for Your Home

Updated on March 21, 2018

Home Solar System

A typical home solar water heating system on a roof
A typical home solar water heating system on a roof | Source

Free Solar Energy

For years, people have been looking at ways to find more clean sources of energy. Here in the U.S., much has been discussed about reducing our dependence on oil, especially from foreign countries that we aren’t always on positive terms with.

Some of the cleaner energy sources being discussed are wind and solar. Both certainly have positives, but negatives are unavoidable as well.

I live near an area referred to as the Altamont, which connects the central valley of California to the higher populated Bay Area. The Altamont creates a wind funnel through the mountains that makes it perfect for capturing wind produced energy. The biggest concern is that some models of turbines can be fatal to birds not paying attention where those blades are when they fly by.

For solar energy, it is a little bit easier to utilize; your biggest concern is putting the panels in an area that gets as much sunlight as possible. Of course the biggest drawback to solar is a lack of sunlight, mainly during storms or the winter.

We have had a solar water heater for our home since we bought it in 2005. It is pretty much impossible to gauge how much energy we save with our unit but I do know that I turn the electric backup off around April and I don’t turn it back on until usually September or October. It is a great feeling to know that my family of four gets 100% of our hot water, during these months, directly from the sun and not our energy company.

Solar Power Facts

Capturing sunlight for energy use is a fairly straight forward process. Photovoltaic (the more scientific name) panels are installed and they convert the energy from the sunlight to electricity. In many applications homeowners will generate enough electricity to cover their normal usages. I have also heard many stories about systems producing more than they need which will actually cause their electricity meter to spin the other way. This “excess” energy is basically being sold to the energy company to use on their grid elsewhere, not too bad in my opinion.

Unfortunately my country hasn’t quite figured out how to get as much from solar as they could. It is a tremendous opportunity since so much of the country gets bathed in sun every day. Other countries, like Germany for example, have jumped into solar with both feet and their production continues to increase every year. I still hope that our future energy policies include more solar and less on sources like oil and coal.

Water Heater Costs

The cost of a water heater will range depending on a few factors. The biggest two are the size of the heater itself and what kind of energy it takes to operate. The size is the biggest cost and determines how many gallons a water heater will store and heat.

The most common kinds of energy used to heat residential water heaters are natural gas and electricity. More rural homeowners will also have propane heaters available.

Natural gas is typically the most popular fuel source used for water heaters because it is a cheaper alternative to electricity and propane. Costs will vary based on what the charges are from your local energy company but, in most cases, natural gas is still the best option.

Price of Solar Water Heater

Even though we don’t pay anything for our hot water for about half of the year there are initial costs to going with solar water heating instead of the more common other models.

The biggest drawback to a solar water heater is the cost. More traditional water heaters can be bought for a couple of hundred dollars plus installation costs. Solar models are many times more expensive with procurement costs in the thousands. Installation will probably cost more too since they are installed outside and might need structural alterations to allow for their size and weight.

The weight of the unit isn’t much because the tank and panels only weigh a few hundred pounds or so. The extra weight comes into play when the tank is full of water. Our system has a 100 gallon tank and it was installed over a trellis near the back of our house. The trellis is nothing fancy but the main support beam is huge, it is about fifteen inches deep.

As with any investment to a home numbers need to be crunched to see if it is worth the initial cost of the project. For example, you might want to remodel your kitchen a certain way but if the added value to your home doesn’t cover the money spent on the remodel is it really the best use of your cash?

Solar water heater companies have calculators that take into consideration your electricity rate as well as your estimated hot water usage and sun exposure. Any good company should be able to tell you how many years it would take for you to save enough money to pay for your new water solar heater.

Solar Water Panels

Solar water panels on a roof
Solar water panels on a roof | Source

What Does a Solar Panel do

We have all seen solar panels somewhere. Maybe they were on a roof of a house or over some covered parking at a shopping mall. I’m glad to see more and more of them popping up and taking advantage of the sunny days in here in California.

A solar water heater captures the energy of the sun rather efficiently. A glycol gel circulates in the panels and transfers the energy into the tank to heat the water; for the systems to operate properly the panels have to be installed at a minimum angle and the tank must be at the top. The warmer gel rises and comes into contact with rods where the energy is transferred, through the rods, to the tank where the water is heated. The cooler gel falls and goes back to the bottom of the panel where it starts the whole process all over again. The solar panels are self-contained and the gel needs to replenishment unless a leak occurs.

I’m no scientist but I appreciate the system and how it is designed; my wallet also appreciates the hot water we receive without any electricity being used.

What is Solar Energy From the Sun

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • flexiblealex profile image

        Hitender Kumar 

        3 years ago from Delhi

        Sun is Bulk Source of Energy. Utiloize energy for cleaning stuff really a great Idea .

      • profile image

        SonQuioey10 

        5 years ago

        Very interesting.

        I've always wanted to try solar energy. That is one way I'll definitely go green. With the water heater, that may definitely save money in the long-run.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)