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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.

By Liz Kimbrough

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

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Maudib / iStock / Getty Images

While the upfront cost of a solar water heater may be higher than traditional water heaters, the solar energy you'll harness can yield great savings and environmental benefits. Heating water accounts for 18% of a home's energy use, but a solar water heater could cut your water heating bills by 50 to 80%.

In this article, we'll explain how a solar-powered hot water heater can help you tap into a free, renewable energy source, potentially saving money and doing good for the planet. With this information, you can make the best decision about whether a solar water heater is a good investment for your home's hot water needs.

Solar Water Heater Basics

A solar hot water heater's basic function is to expose water or a heat-exchanging liquid to the sun's rays, then circulate the warmed liquid back into your home for domestic use. The basic components of all solar water heaters are a storage tank and a collector to trap the sun's heat.

Collectors are a series of flat plates, tubes or tanks through which water or a heat transfer fluid passes and absorbs the sun's heat. From there, the fluid is circulated to either a water tank or heat exchange unit.

Solar water heaters are most commonly used as energy-saving devices to preheat water before entering a conventional water heater in the home. But some solar water heaters warm and store water without the use of a conventional tank, offering totally sun-powered hot water.

Types of Solar Water Heaters

Solar hot water heaters are split into two broad categories: passive and active. The primary difference between the two is that active systems require circulating pumps to move water, and passive systems rely on gravity to move water. Active systems also require electricity to operate and may use antifreeze as a heat exchanger fluid.

In the simplest of passive solar collectors, water is heated in tubes, then piped directly to a faucet when needed. Active solar collectors either use antifreeze — which is passed from the solar collector into a heat exchanger that heats potable water for storage and household use — or just heat water directly, which is then pumped to a water tank.

Active and passive systems have subcategories that are specialized for various climates, tasks, capacities and budgets. The one that's right for you will depend on factors including:

  • Available space
  • Availability of sunshine
  • Your capacity requirements
  • Building codes and regulations in your area
  • Your installation budget

Let's take a look at each type of solar hot water system and how it can benefit your home.

Active Solar Water Heaters

Though more expensive than passive systems, active solar water heaters are more efficient. There are two types of active solar water heating systems:

Active Direct

In an active direct system, potable water passes directly through the heat collector and into a storage tank for use. They're best suited for mild climates where temperatures rarely go below freezing.

Active Indirect

Active indirect systems circulate a non-freezing fluid through the solar collector and into a heat exchanger, where the fluid's heat is transferred to potable water. The water is then circulated into a storage tank for domestic use. Active indirect systems are a must for cold climates where temperatures regularly dip below freezing. Without an active indirect system, pipes run the risk of freezing and bursting.

Passive Solar Water Heaters

Passive solar water heaters are the less expensive, simpler option but also tend to be less efficient than active systems. They can, however, be more reliable and last longer, so you shouldn't overlook them as an option, especially if you're on a budget.

All passive systems use pressure or gravity to circulate water, and come in two variations:

Integral Collector Storage and Batch Heaters

Integral collector storage (ICS) systems are the simplest of all solar water heating units — the heat collector also serves as the water storage tank. They're quite efficient but only work in climates with little risk of freezing temperatures. ICS systems can be as simple as a large black tank or a series of smaller copper tubes fastened to a roof. ICS units with copper tubing heat faster due to the increased surface area but lose heat faster for the same reason.

ICS systems are usually used to preheat water for conventional heaters. In such a system, when water is needed, it leaves the storage tank/collector and enters a conventional water heater in the home.

An important thing to consider with an ICS system is size and weight: Because the storage tank itself is also the collector, they're large and heavy. A structure must be strong enough to support bulky ICS systems, which may be impractical or impossible for some homes. Another drawback to an ICS system is its tendency to freeze and even burst in colder weather, making them suitable only for warmer climates or otherwise drained before cold weather hits.

Thermosyphon Water Heaters

Thermosyphon systems rely on thermal circulation. Water circulates when warm water rises and cool water descends. They feature a tank like an ICS unit but have collectors attached sloping downward from the tank to allow thermal circulation.

Thermosyphon collectors gather sunlight, sending heated water back to the tank via a closed-loop or heat pipe. While thermosyphons are more efficient than ICS systems, they can't be used where regular freeing occurs.

How Much Does a Solar Hot Water Heater Cost?

The more hot water you use, the more likely a solar water heater will pay for itself over time. Solar hot water heaters are most cost-effective for households with many members or a large hot water demand.

A typical solar water heater will cost around $9,000 before federal incentives, with higher capacity active models reaching upwards of $13,000. Small systems may cost as low as $1,500.

Prices vary dramatically based on many factors, including the materials you choose, system size, installation and maintenance costs, and more. While ICS systems are the cheapest option (around $4,000 for 60-gallon units), they won't work in all climates, so if your home sees regular temperatures below freezing, you'll have no other choice than to fork over the cash for an active indirect system, or at least use a different system only part of the year.

Weight and size of cheaper passive systems might not be appropriate for everyone. If your structure won't accommodate the weight of a passive system or you don't have the room, a more expensive active system is yet again your best option.

If you're building a new home or refinancing, you can roll the cost of a new solar hot water heater into your mortgage. Including the cost of a new solar water heater in a 30-year mortgage will cost you between $13 and $20 per month. Tack on federal incentives, and you might pay as little as $10 to $15 per month. So if you're building new or refinancing, and your conventional water heating bills are over $10 to $15 per month, you'll immediately start saving money. And the more water you use, the faster the system will pay for itself.

Aside from the cost to purchase and install the system itself, you'll need to account for annual operating costs. In a simple passive system, this could be negligible or nothing. But in most systems utilizing conventional water heaters in tandem with a solar heater, you will bear some heating costs, albeit much lower than operating a conventional heater alone.

Tax Credits for Solar Water Heaters

You don't have to shoulder the entire price of a new solar water heating system. Federal tax credits may significantly reduce the cost of installing one. Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credits (also known as ITC, or Investment Tax Credits) can provide a 26 percent tax credit on solar water heaters. But there are some conditions to qualify:

  • At least half of the energy generated from the property must come from the sun (photovoltaic systems).
  • The new solar hot water heater must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a similar entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the system is installed.
  • The solar heating system can't be used to heat swimming pools or hot tubs — it must heat water used within the home or business.

Many states, municipalities and utilities offer their own incentives and rebates for solar water heater installation. Check out the DSIRE database for more regulatory information.

Where to Get a Solar Water Heater

Solar hot water heater components are readily available in many national chain stores, such as Home Depot. Units are also available for purchase directly from producers, with Duda Diesel and Sunbank Solar offering several great residential solar water heater options. Local installers may also offer quality solar water heaters.

For solar pool heating and small-scale use, check out the heaters below:

  • Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater Collector: This system is the perfect choice for heating pools, hot tubs and closed-loop systems. Thirty highly efficient unpressurized tubes provide excellent sunlight absorption and are rated at up to 45,000 BTUs a day.
  • Sunbank Solar 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater: This solar water heater is designed for households with one to three members. This thermosyphon system offers exceptional absorption efficiency (92-96%) and keeps hot water hot all day in an ultra-insulated built-in tank. Weighing in at just 180 pounds, it can be installed on most roofs.
  • Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System: This full kit comes with a stainless-steel water tank, controller and submersible water pump. It's a dual-coil system, which allows you to heat the water in the tank both with solar power and a secondary electricity or heat source.

Because so many factors influence which solar water heater you should buy, it's advisable to work with a professional when choosing and installing a larger solar water heating system.

Solar Hot Water Heaters Vs. Home Solar System

Solar water heaters are less common than they used to be. This is largely due to the drastic decline in the cost of solar panels, causing many people who would otherwise install solar water heaters to forgo them and heat their water with electricity generated from their own solar panels.

Solar water heaters take up precious real estate, and for a homeowner interested in producing their own solar-generated electricity, it may make more sense to maximize the space available and nix solar water heating altogether, buying solar panels instead.

However, if you don't have the space for solar panels, solar water heaters may still be a great fit, as they take up far less room than solar panels do. Solar water heaters can also be a great option for those living in remote locations or as an environmentally friendly add-on for existing solar electricity generation. Modern electric water heaters are incredibly efficient and, when powered with solar electricity and paired with a solar water heater, will yield significant savings for your pocketbook and cut down your greenhouse gas emissions.

For many homeowners, the decision comes down to price. Solar hot water heaters can cost upwards of $13,000. To see how much a full home solar system would cost for your home, you can get a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the form below.

FAQ: Solar Hot Water Heater

Is a solar water heater worth it?

Whether a solar water heater is worth it all depends on where you live, your needs and preferences, and whether you plan on installing solar panels. Solar water heaters have been losing ground due largely to the surge of home solar: The folks that would install solar water heaters also want solar for electricity generation and often choose to eliminate solar water heaters that compete for valuable rooftop space.

If you have the space, a solar water heater will likely lower your water heating bills. Used in tandem with other renewable energies, a solar water heater is still a great choice for nearly any application.

What is the price of a solar water heater?

A typical solar water heater system will cost around $9,000, with higher-end models reaching upwards of $13,000. Small-scale use heaters will be much cheaper, running between $1,000 and $3,000.

What are the disadvantages of solar hot water heaters?

The biggest disadvantage of a solar water heater is that it won't work on foggy, rainy or cloudy days, nor at night. While this can be overcome with a conventional auxiliary heater, it is still a disadvantage all solar technologies share. Maintenance can be another turn-off. While generally requiring little maintenance, some solar water heaters need regular draining, cleaning and protection against corrosion.

How does a solar water heater work?

Solar water heaters circulate liquid through a solar collector — most commonly a flat-plate collector or tube collector — heating the liquid and sending it either to a tank for use or an exchanger, where the liquid is used to heat water for home use.

Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories that change the world.

The modern global textile and fashion industries rely on many chemical dyes to create patterns and colors, but these often produce toxic wastewater. Engin Akyurt / Pixabay

Fast fashion has been called the second dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil, and how we color our clothes is a large part of the problem. Now, Colorifix, a UK biotech company founded by Cambridge University scientists, has developed a new way to dye clothes that doesn't harm the planet.

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The new report points to various studies documenting insect loss, including 2018 research finding 41% of insect species are in decline and that one-third of all insect species are threatened by extinction. Wikimedia Commons

By Andrea Germanos

A new report released Tuesday draws attention to the worldwide decline in insects and calls for global policies to boost the conservation of both agriculture and the six-footed creatures.

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Biologist releases GMO mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil on Feb. 11, 2016. Victor Moriyama / Getty Images

By Natalie Kofler, Françoise Baylis, Graham Dellaire, Landon J Getz

Every year, around one million people die of mosquito-borne diseases according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is why mosquitoes are considered one of the deadliest living creatures on the planet — not because they are lethal themselves, but because many of the viruses and parasites they transmit are.

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The USDA announced it would leave oversight on GMOs to the companies producing the organisms. D-Keine / E+ / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Food safety advocacy groups objected to the Trump administration's latest assault on the country's agricultural regulatory framework as the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday it would leave oversight on GMOs to the companies producing the organisms.

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A shop owner shows a customer a live chicken for sale in the Wanchai markets of Hong Kong on December 30, 2016. ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP / Getty Images

By Reynard Loki

The exact origin of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which started the COVID-19 pandemic, is still unclear. Early reports suggested that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a "wet market" that sells live animals. On March 30, the international team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report of their recent visit to Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus and confirmed the "zoonotic source of SARS-CoV-2."

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A widely circulated video makes unsubstantiated medical claims about the coronavirus. m-gucci / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo are among the companies scrambling to remove a coronavirus conspiracy video called 'Plandemic,' as The Washington Post reported.

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The EPA announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet. fotokostic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet from where it was sprayed, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

To approve new use for the herbicide, which has the chemical name isoxaflutole and is manufactured by German-chemical giant BASF, the EPA had to skirt around the usual public comment period for the decision. The registration for isoxaflutole was opened for public comment, but it was never listed in the federal register. Agencies almost always provide notice that they are considering a new rule in the federal register, according to to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

"The press release caught everyone off guard, we were just waiting for the EPA to open the comment period, and we never saw it," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to an EPA press release, as the AP reported.

The spray, which is already used on corn in 33 states, can be sprayed on crops that have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide. Commodity farmers praised the decision and touted the weedkiller as an indispensable tool in their arsenal of supplies to push back against new "super weeds" that have grown resistant to several types of herbicides, including glyphosate, or RoundUp, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., as to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reported.

"One of the biggest challenges growers face is resistant weeds, and the soybean market needed a new residual active ingredient to help fight against them," said Darren Unland, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF Agricultural Solutions, in a company press release. "Alite 27 herbicide will provide growers with another pre-emergent herbicide option to layer into their herbicide program for effective, season-long control."

Comments like Unland's were the only ones that appeared in the public register. In fact, there were 54 comments in the public register and all of them were in praise of Alite 27, neglecting that it is a known carcinogen and that the drift of the herbicide is potentially harmful to nearby farms and farmers.


"Clearly no one from the public health community knew about this because no one commented," Donley said, as The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting noted. "Yet there was all these industry comments, all these positive comments. Someone was tipped off that this docket had been opened. One side was able to comment, the other wasn't."

While BASF and the EPA insist that they followed protocol and there was a month-long protocol for issuing public comment, the one-sided comments certainly raise eyebrows. The EPA, however, did put limits on the use of the potent herbicide, only allowing it in certain counties in 25 states and not in Indiana or Illinois, the two largest soybean-producing states.

"This is basically an herbicide that shouldn't be approved at all for any use. It's that bad really on both the human health and environmental fronts," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, a national nonprofit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Freese insisted he was ready with an arsenal of facts for the public comment period, but he never saw it. Amongst the facts that Freese wanted to present was the EPA's own statement that isoxaflutole is a likely carcinogen that damages human liver enzymes, it contaminates ground water, it travels long distances from where it was sprayed, and its label is extremely complicated. It requires farmers to know their soil type and the height of their water table.

"It's outrageous," Freese said to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. "They knew this is a bad news chemical, and it was very likely done because they didn't want to give environmental groups the opportunity to comment on this, so they can avoid scrutiny."

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Air pollution from sources such as car exhaust is linked to macular degeneration, or AMD. ssuaphoto / Getty Images

Air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of progressive and irreversible vision loss, a large, long-term study found.

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Guido Cavallini / Cultura / Getty Images

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If you like to give friends and family the gift of knowledge about our food, we're here with recommendations for 2019 books and movies that illuminate the issues close to our hearts. At U.S. Right to Know, we believe that transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – is crucial to building a healthier food system for our children, our families and our world. Kudos to the journalists and filmmakers who are exposing how powerful food and chemical industry interests impact our health and the environment.

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A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world's first "living robots."

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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.

By Liz Kimbrough

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
Maudib / iStock / Getty Images

While the upfront cost of a solar water heater may be higher than traditional water heaters, the solar energy you'll harness can yield great savings and environmental benefits. Heating water accounts for 18% of a home's energy use, but a solar water heater could cut your water heating bills by 50 to 80%.

In this article, we'll explain how a solar-powered hot water heater can help you tap into a free, renewable energy source, potentially saving money and doing good for the planet. With this information, you can make the best decision about whether a solar water heater is a good investment for your home's hot water needs.

Solar Water Heater Basics

A solar hot water heater's basic function is to expose water or a heat-exchanging liquid to the sun's rays, then circulate the warmed liquid back into your home for domestic use. The basic components of all solar water heaters are a storage tank and a collector to trap the sun's heat.

Collectors are a series of flat plates, tubes or tanks through which water or a heat transfer fluid passes and absorbs the sun's heat. From there, the fluid is circulated to either a water tank or heat exchange unit.

Solar water heaters are most commonly used as energy-saving devices to preheat water before entering a conventional water heater in the home. But some solar water heaters warm and store water without the use of a conventional tank, offering totally sun-powered hot water.

Types of Solar Water Heaters

Solar hot water heaters are split into two broad categories: passive and active. The primary difference between the two is that active systems require circulating pumps to move water, and passive systems rely on gravity to move water. Active systems also require electricity to operate and may use antifreeze as a heat exchanger fluid.

In the simplest of passive solar collectors, water is heated in tubes, then piped directly to a faucet when needed. Active solar collectors either use antifreeze — which is passed from the solar collector into a heat exchanger that heats potable water for storage and household use — or just heat water directly, which is then pumped to a water tank.

Active and passive systems have subcategories that are specialized for various climates, tasks, capacities and budgets. The one that's right for you will depend on factors including:

  • Available space
  • Availability of sunshine
  • Your capacity requirements
  • Building codes and regulations in your area
  • Your installation budget

Let's take a look at each type of solar hot water system and how it can benefit your home.

Active Solar Water Heaters

Though more expensive than passive systems, active solar water heaters are more efficient. There are two types of active solar water heating systems:

Active Direct

In an active direct system, potable water passes directly through the heat collector and into a storage tank for use. They're best suited for mild climates where temperatures rarely go below freezing.

Active Indirect

Active indirect systems circulate a non-freezing fluid through the solar collector and into a heat exchanger, where the fluid's heat is transferred to potable water. The water is then circulated into a storage tank for domestic use. Active indirect systems are a must for cold climates where temperatures regularly dip below freezing. Without an active indirect system, pipes run the risk of freezing and bursting.

Passive Solar Water Heaters

Passive solar water heaters are the less expensive, simpler option but also tend to be less efficient than active systems. They can, however, be more reliable and last longer, so you shouldn't overlook them as an option, especially if you're on a budget.

All passive systems use pressure or gravity to circulate water, and come in two variations:

Integral Collector Storage and Batch Heaters

Integral collector storage (ICS) systems are the simplest of all solar water heating units — the heat collector also serves as the water storage tank. They're quite efficient but only work in climates with little risk of freezing temperatures. ICS systems can be as simple as a large black tank or a series of smaller copper tubes fastened to a roof. ICS units with copper tubing heat faster due to the increased surface area but lose heat faster for the same reason.

ICS systems are usually used to preheat water for conventional heaters. In such a system, when water is needed, it leaves the storage tank/collector and enters a conventional water heater in the home.

An important thing to consider with an ICS system is size and weight: Because the storage tank itself is also the collector, they're large and heavy. A structure must be strong enough to support bulky ICS systems, which may be impractical or impossible for some homes. Another drawback to an ICS system is its tendency to freeze and even burst in colder weather, making them suitable only for warmer climates or otherwise drained before cold weather hits.

Thermosyphon Water Heaters

Thermosyphon systems rely on thermal circulation. Water circulates when warm water rises and cool water descends. They feature a tank like an ICS unit but have collectors attached sloping downward from the tank to allow thermal circulation.

Thermosyphon collectors gather sunlight, sending heated water back to the tank via a closed-loop or heat pipe. While thermosyphons are more efficient than ICS systems, they can't be used where regular freeing occurs.

How Much Does a Solar Hot Water Heater Cost?

The more hot water you use, the more likely a solar water heater will pay for itself over time. Solar hot water heaters are most cost-effective for households with many members or a large hot water demand.

A typical solar water heater will cost around $9,000 before federal incentives, with higher capacity active models reaching upwards of $13,000. Small systems may cost as low as $1,500.

Prices vary dramatically based on many factors, including the materials you choose, system size, installation and maintenance costs, and more. While ICS systems are the cheapest option (around $4,000 for 60-gallon units), they won't work in all climates, so if your home sees regular temperatures below freezing, you'll have no other choice than to fork over the cash for an active indirect system, or at least use a different system only part of the year.

Weight and size of cheaper passive systems might not be appropriate for everyone. If your structure won't accommodate the weight of a passive system or you don't have the room, a more expensive active system is yet again your best option.

If you're building a new home or refinancing, you can roll the cost of a new solar hot water heater into your mortgage. Including the cost of a new solar water heater in a 30-year mortgage will cost you between $13 and $20 per month. Tack on federal incentives, and you might pay as little as $10 to $15 per month. So if you're building new or refinancing, and your conventional water heating bills are over $10 to $15 per month, you'll immediately start saving money. And the more water you use, the faster the system will pay for itself.

Aside from the cost to purchase and install the system itself, you'll need to account for annual operating costs. In a simple passive system, this could be negligible or nothing. But in most systems utilizing conventional water heaters in tandem with a solar heater, you will bear some heating costs, albeit much lower than operating a conventional heater alone.

Tax Credits for Solar Water Heaters

You don't have to shoulder the entire price of a new solar water heating system. Federal tax credits may significantly reduce the cost of installing one. Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credits (also known as ITC, or Investment Tax Credits) can provide a 26 percent tax credit on solar water heaters. But there are some conditions to qualify:

  • At least half of the energy generated from the property must come from the sun (photovoltaic systems).
  • The new solar hot water heater must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a similar entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the system is installed.
  • The solar heating system can't be used to heat swimming pools or hot tubs — it must heat water used within the home or business.

Many states, municipalities and utilities offer their own incentives and rebates for solar water heater installation. Check out the DSIRE database for more regulatory information.

Where to Get a Solar Water Heater

Solar hot water heater components are readily available in many national chain stores, such as Home Depot. Units are also available for purchase directly from producers, with Duda Diesel and Sunbank Solar offering several great residential solar water heater options. Local installers may also offer quality solar water heaters.

For solar pool heating and small-scale use, check out the heaters below:

  • Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater Collector: This system is the perfect choice for heating pools, hot tubs and closed-loop systems. Thirty highly efficient unpressurized tubes provide excellent sunlight absorption and are rated at up to 45,000 BTUs a day.
  • Sunbank Solar 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater: This solar water heater is designed for households with one to three members. This thermosyphon system offers exceptional absorption efficiency (92-96%) and keeps hot water hot all day in an ultra-insulated built-in tank. Weighing in at just 180 pounds, it can be installed on most roofs.
  • Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System: This full kit comes with a stainless-steel water tank, controller and submersible water pump. It's a dual-coil system, which allows you to heat the water in the tank both with solar power and a secondary electricity or heat source.

Because so many factors influence which solar water heater you should buy, it's advisable to work with a professional when choosing and installing a larger solar water heating system.

Solar Hot Water Heaters Vs. Home Solar System

Solar water heaters are less common than they used to be. This is largely due to the drastic decline in the cost of solar panels, causing many people who would otherwise install solar water heaters to forgo them and heat their water with electricity generated from their own solar panels.

Solar water heaters take up precious real estate, and for a homeowner interested in producing their own solar-generated electricity, it may make more sense to maximize the space available and nix solar water heating altogether, buying solar panels instead.

However, if you don't have the space for solar panels, solar water heaters may still be a great fit, as they take up far less room than solar panels do. Solar water heaters can also be a great option for those living in remote locations or as an environmentally friendly add-on for existing solar electricity generation. Modern electric water heaters are incredibly efficient and, when powered with solar electricity and paired with a solar water heater, will yield significant savings for your pocketbook and cut down your greenhouse gas emissions.

For many homeowners, the decision comes down to price. Solar hot water heaters can cost upwards of $13,000. To see how much a full home solar system would cost for your home, you can get a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the form below.

FAQ: Solar Hot Water Heater

Is a solar water heater worth it?

Whether a solar water heater is worth it all depends on where you live, your needs and preferences, and whether you plan on installing solar panels. Solar water heaters have been losing ground due largely to the surge of home solar: The folks that would install solar water heaters also want solar for electricity generation and often choose to eliminate solar water heaters that compete for valuable rooftop space.

If you have the space, a solar water heater will likely lower your water heating bills. Used in tandem with other renewable energies, a solar water heater is still a great choice for nearly any application.

What is the price of a solar water heater?

A typical solar water heater system will cost around $9,000, with higher-end models reaching upwards of $13,000. Small-scale use heaters will be much cheaper, running between $1,000 and $3,000.

What are the disadvantages of solar hot water heaters?

The biggest disadvantage of a solar water heater is that it won't work on foggy, rainy or cloudy days, nor at night. While this can be overcome with a conventional auxiliary heater, it is still a disadvantage all solar technologies share. Maintenance can be another turn-off. While generally requiring little maintenance, some solar water heaters need regular draining, cleaning and protection against corrosion.

How does a solar water heater work?

Solar water heaters circulate liquid through a solar collector — most commonly a flat-plate collector or tube collector — heating the liquid and sending it either to a tank for use or an exchanger, where the liquid is used to heat water for home use.

Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories that change the world.

The modern global textile and fashion industries rely on many chemical dyes to create patterns and colors, but these often produce toxic wastewater. Engin Akyurt / Pixabay

Fast fashion has been called the second dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil, and how we color our clothes is a large part of the problem. Now, Colorifix, a UK biotech company founded by Cambridge University scientists, has developed a new way to dye clothes that doesn't harm the planet.

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