Solar water heaters make sense in Phoenix with all of the sun, right?
Many of us are trying to think green. We are mindful of recycling, we are mindful of turning the lights off when we are not using them and we try to turn the faucet off while we are brushing our teeth. We get the concept of being friendly to the Earth, but sometimes Earth-friendly isn’t always pocketbook friendly.
Solar water heaters ….. A basic understanding
There are 2 major types of solar water heaters. The first and most common style uses 1 or 2 solar panels on the roof along with a minimum 80-gallon storage tank with a single element, a mixing valve, a controller, and a pump. The premise is to use the heat from solar energy to heat the water. A pump is used to circulate the hot water from the solar panel to the water heater tank literally transferring the heated water from the roof to the water heater. The controller tells the pump when to run or not through a series of sensors. The storage tank must be at least 80 gallons due to the amount of hot water and the temperature of hot water that the system can produce. The Mixing valve is installed just before the water enters the house to ensure the water is not too hot. With 80 gallons of very hot water at the ready in most cases, there is enough hot water to be mixed to get by the times when there is no sun to heat up your water. When there is a prolonged time of no sun, for example, several days of very cloudy weather or a substantial amount of water is used at night, there is an element in the storage tank that acts as a back up to ensure hot water is still provided.
The second system uses the same premise except instead of pumping the water through the solar panel it pumps Propylene Glycol Inhibited-Heat Transfer Fluid (basically anti-freeze) in a closed loop through the panel and into a conduit that wraps around the tank under the insulation to heat the water through heat transfer. This particular system does add a bit of cost at installation but should prolong the life of most of the components, so it does tend to last longer but as stated with an additional investment.
Do you have a solar water heater that is leaking?
If you have a solar water heater you’ve probably found yourself at a crossroads, do you stay with a solar water heater or do you convert back to electric? Solar water heaters, as described above, have a lot to their system; solar panels, pumps, mixing valves and all of the plumbing that ties them together. There is a lot that can go wrong with a solar water heater. There are times that we advise clients to convert back to electric because so many components of their solar systems need to be replaced. There is an option that is both energy saving and cost effective without all of the components required to make a solar water heater work. That option is a hybrid water heater. Hybrid water heaters, rather than using the sun to heat up water, uses ambient heat surrounding the water heater to heat water. Hybrid water heaters can be a fraction of the investment of a solar water heating system and takes up a lot less space. Hybrid water heaters are the best of both worlds, friendly for our Earth and friendly on our wallets. Want to know more? Check out our website.