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Green Tips

Solar Water Heaters
Posted on 26 Nov 2008 under Green TipsGreen Tips icon
Solar water heaters are a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use-sunshine-is free.

Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.

Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. Solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

There are three types of solar collectors used for residential applications:

Flat-plate collector
Glazed flat-plate collectors are insulated, weatherproofed boxes that contain a dark absorber plate under one or more glass or plastic (polymer) covers. Unglazed flat-plate collectors-typically used for solar pool heating-have a dark absorber plate, made of metal or polymer, without a cover or enclosure.

Integral collector-storage systems
Also known as ICS or batch systems, they feature one or more black tanks or tubes in an insulated, glazed box. Cold water first passes through the solar collector, which preheats the water. The water then continues on to the conventional backup water heater, providing a reliable source of hot water. They should be installed only in mild-freeze climates because the outdoor pipes could freeze in severe, cold weather.

Evacuated-tube solar collectors
They feature parallel rows of transparent glass tubes. Each tube contains a glass outer tube and metal absorber tube attached to a fin. The fin's coating absorbs solar energy but inhibits radiative heat loss. These collectors are used more frequently for U.S. commercial applications.

There are two types of active solar water heating systems:

Direct circulation systems
Pumps circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. They work well in climates where it rarely freezes. Ideal for Texas weather.

Indirect circulation systems
Pumps circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. They are popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.

Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they're usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and may last longer. There are two basic types of passive systems:
  • Integral collector-storage passive systems-Ideal for Texas weather.
  • Thermosyphon systems

Solar water heating systems almost always require a backup system for cloudy days and times of increased demand. Conventional storage water heaters usually provide backup. A backup system may also be part of the solar collector, such as rooftop tanks with thermosyphon systems. It may also be packaged with a demand (tankless or instantaneous) water heater for backup.

On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%-80%. Also, because the sun is free, you're protected from future fuel shortages and price hikes.

If you're building a new home or refinancing, the economics are even better. Including the price of a solar water heater in a new 30-year mortgage usually amounts to between $13 and $20 per month. The federal income tax deduction for mortgage interest attributable to the solar system reduces that by about $3-$5 per month. So if your fuel savings are more than $15 per month, the solar investment is profitable immediately. On a monthly basis, you're saving more than you're paying.

In our Texas weather the return on the investment is even better, and should be one of first priorities on any remodelling project, or new construction.
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19 Comments


[Posted by Sergey @ 07 Jul 2013 07:38 am]
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[Posted by Evi @ 06 Jul 2013 11:22 am]
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[Posted by Hakan @ 05 Jul 2013 10:34 am]
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[Posted by rpldrwvks @ 21 May 2013 09:45 pm]
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[Posted by xstyeuewcq @ 17 May 2013 09:25 am]
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[Posted by wmusloe @ 17 May 2013 03:38 am]
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[Posted by Laxman @ 16 May 2013 06:21 am]
You Sir/Madam are the enemy of counfsion everywhere!
[Posted by Irish @ 14 May 2013 01:09 pm]
So eixtecd I found this article as it made things much quicker!
[Posted by xmhnfhne @ 20 Sep 2012 01:14 pm]
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[Posted by cbkoio @ 20 Sep 2012 01:14 pm]
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[Posted by fxwvzdwt @ 19 Sep 2012 06:33 am]
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[Posted by sidkcecwbxb @ 18 Sep 2012 06:22 pm]
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[Posted by ytryhqdj @ 18 Sep 2012 02:05 am]
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[Posted by kzistqx @ 18 Sep 2012 02:03 am]
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[Posted by Tassilyn @ 17 Sep 2012 05:31 am]
Now I know who the bariny one is, I'll keep looking for your posts.
[Posted by Carlos @ 17 Sep 2012 05:00 am]
I was struck by the honesty of your pstiong
[Posted by formart @ 13 Jun 2012 08:46 pm]
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[Posted by green man @ 16 Dec 2008 12:23 pm]
The tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the system, up to $2,000.

go to energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits for more info.
[Posted by Jeff G. @ 28 Nov 2008 07:36 am]
I always wanted to do something to help the enviromnent. I have to renovate my house, so i'm going to install a solar water heater. Might as well make use of all the sun we get. I'm going to check on any tax rebates available and do it. I'm sure the cost of electricity will go up again soon. Thanks for the info.
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