Solar power is increasing in popularity as more and more people realize the benefits. Solar energy saves money, reduces the impact on the environment, works efficiently, and increases the value of a home. In addition to installing solar home heating systems, you can also opt for solar power for heating the water in your home.
Solar water heater panels or solar thermal panels use sunlight to produce hot water. Utilizing renewable energy, they work in most climates, especially those that tend to be colder where people often have exorbitantly high heating costs during the winter.
Solar water heater panels work efficiently and can reduce the use of your traditional hot water heater by 10 to 90 percent. In most cases, the investment in solar water heater panels pays for itself in about a decade, depending on the amount of use it gets.
How Do Solar Water Heater Panels Work?
Solar water heater panels are situated on the roof of a home and allow water to flow through them so the sun’s rays can heat the water. The heated water travels to the domestic hot water tank and flows into and out of pipes on either side of the tank. People in the home are able to utilize hot water without it having an effect on the panel.
There are a number of issues to deal with when you’re utilizing solar water heater panels. For instance, if you live in an area that gets cold for part of the year or tends to be cloudy, you don’t want cold water flowing from the system into your home’s tank. When temps drop to a certain point, you’ll need to stop the system and prevent it from freezing up. Most systems offer the ability to switch the water flow on and off so you’re making the most of the flow of water.
What Are the Components of a Solar Water Heating System?
Solar water heaters use an insulated storage tank where water is heated and sent out into the home. The water is heated by the solar power that is collected in the panels. There are three different types of solar panels that can be used in residential settings, including:
Flat Plate Collectors
Flat plate collectors are glazed, insulated, and weatherproof panels that feature an absorber plant under a polymer cover. You can also get unglazed flat plates that are most often used for heating swimming pools.
Integral Collector Storage Systems (ICS)
ICS systems feature at least one black tank or tube that is inside of a glazed, insulated box. Cold water passes through the collector and is heated before entering the conventional water heater. ICS systems are only appropriate in temperate climates where temperatures are rarely below freezing.
Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors
Evacuated tube solar collector systems feature a row of glass tubes with a metal absorber tube inside. The tube absorbs sunlight and prevents heat loss. This type of system is more popular for commercial use than it is for residential use.
Keep in mind that most solar water heater systems do not completely eliminate the need for a traditional water heater. Traditional water heaters serve as a backup and allow you to gain access to heated water on cloudy days. Despite needing a backup, solar systems are still good investments because they reduce the need to use the traditional system by a significant amount.
Choosing Your Solar Water Heater Panel System
There are several things you should consider before you begin your search for the best solar water heater for your home.
Start by thinking about whether or not a solar upgrade is practical for your home. Evaluate its solar resources and determine if solar is feasible. You’ll also need to consider things like restrictions and regulations in your area. Most local and state governments are happy to help you upgrade to solar, but there might still be restrictions on adding the panels to your home.
Next, estimate the cost of upgrading to a solar water heating system. Prices vary from system to system, and you also need to consider what additional components you’ll need, if any, aside from the solar water heating panel. Your current water heating system will come into play because it is part of the new overall solar system. Obviously, if you need to upgrade your traditional water heater the overall cost of upgrading is going to be more.
Finally, determine the efficiency of a given system so you’ll know about how much money you are going to save. Keep in mind there might be tax benefits at the local, state, and federal level that will save you additional money when you upgrade to solar power.
Upgrading to solar water heating usually pays for itself in about a decade, but some people recoup the cost in as little as five years, while others might need a dozen or more years for it to pay off.
Is Solar Water Heating Worth the Upgrade?
Solar water heater panels are considered three times more efficient at harvesting energy than traditional methods, but this may not mean what you think it means. Just how good the switch to solar is going to be for you depends on what you need.
Consider this: if the people living in your home tend to take a lot of showers and baths, a solar upgrade makes sense. A quality system will produce at least half of the water you need, so you’re likely to see a big difference in the cost of heating water in your home.
The drawback of a solar water heating system is that it is singular. Solar water heater panels don’t heat your entire home and don’t produce any electricity in your home. They are solely focused on water heating. Some people are going to prefer a complete solar upgrade instead of focusing on just one component, while others are going to be happy to let solar water heater panels do the work for water heating and take a more progressive journey into transitioning to solar.