The current concerns over global warming, emissions related to the burning of fossil fuels, and the dwindling of available fossil fuels make solar hot water heaters a good choice for homeowners. Solar energy is both inexpensive overall and a renewable resource.
Solar hot water heaters are an efficient and inexpensive to operate method of supplying hot water for your home. When you consider heating water in the typical home requires about 30% of the electric bill for that home, a system that can save considerable money becomes very attractive.
Solar hot water heaters can supply up to 80-90% of the yearly hot water needs for a typical home for much less than either gas or electric hot water heaters. A major part of the reason for this is the use of a free and renewable energy source: the sun.
There are a number of benefits of solar hot water heaters. Following are a few of the major benefits.
Less Environmental Impact. Conventional methods of heating water for home use require the burning of fossil fuels. Environmental issues come from this. Using the heat of the sun falling on the earth constantly is not only much less expensive, it also is much less harmful to the environment. Other than the manufacturing process needed to produce the equipment for solar hot water heaters, there is no environmental impact.
Less Expense. Apart from the initial expense of installation, there are tax incentives and rebates available for solar hot water heating. These incentives offset the installation expense in a short time when coupled with the ongoing savings on your bill.
Proven Efficiency. Technology improvements have led to approximately one and a half million solar hot water heating systems being installed in the U.S. in both commercial and residential applications. And the number of new installations increases yearly.
Basically, the heat of the sun is captured and retained in a liquid, typically water. This water then is used in the home. No burning of fossil fuels is required, thus decreasing the possibility of producing “green-house” gasses thought to be responsible for global warming.
There are four types of solar hot water heaters:
Passive Systems. These are not recommended for areas where freezing is a possibility. In passive systems, a tank is filled with water which is then heated by the sun. In this case, the sun serves the same purpose as the burner on a typical gas or electric hot water heater. When the heated water is used, it is replaced by cold water from the local utility provider.
Thermosiphon. A flat-plate collector is used in this type to continually heat water that flows through a loop of small tubes. Special coating on the absorber and the glass top allow for as much light and heat energy from the sun as possible through to the water. This coating also prevents heat loss. One drawback to this system is the need for an 800 pound storage tank on the roof. This system is also not recommended for areas where freezing is a possibility.
Direct (Open Loop) System. This system uses an electric pump to circulate water through the system. Water from the local provider flows into a storage tank. From there, a pump pushes the water through the solar collector where it is heated. Then it goes back into the tank. When the water cools in the tank, the pump is started automatically to re-circulate it. The rooftop part of the system has to be protected during freezing weather.
Active Indirect System. Food-safe propylene glycol antifreeze is used in this most common cold-weather system. Water from the local provider circulates through a heat exchanger, then back to the collector. As heated water is used in the home, more cold water is circulated through the heat exchanger. The antifreeze keeps the water in the system from freezing, of course. It is food safe in case there is a leak and the antifreeze gets in the water used in the home.
The initial cost of a solar hot water heater system can be quite high. The most efficient system for cold weather climates can run $6,000 to $17,000 dollars, depending on a number of individual factors. Other systems used in warmer climates run from $1,700 to $5,200.
Of course, this investment is often recouped in three to five years. Also, the life expectancy of the solar hot water heater system is considerably longer than a conventional system. Possibly up to 30-40 years.
An investment this size requires professionals to install the unit correctly. You want to be certain your solar hot water heater system will operate properly, also. The professionals at Alternate Energy know their jobs. Steve Pitney and the rest of the pros there are ready to conduct a solar assessment at your home. Call or email them today.