Solar Hot Water, Simplified

Solar Hot Water, Simplified

Posted on 18. May, 2009 by in Solar

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It’s relatively easy to let the Sun make hot water for us. Yet, for many contractors, architects and developers, Solar Heated Domestic Water (SHDW) is one “low hanging fruit” that is largely ignored. The hot tickets which thrill us are new technologies like photo-voltaic power or maybe even solar thermal power generation, but solar domestic water heating seems “old fashioned” and is often the last thing that residential designers want to think about when designing a home. For me at least, it reminds me of the 1970’s, Woodstock, hippies, “getting back to the land”, etc.

But the real truth is that in the past 30 years, Solar Water Heating has blossomed and today it is a mainstream sustainable energy efficiency industry. It is time for a second look. Today, changing over to Solar Heated Domestic Water (SHDW) is one of the easiest, and least expensive ways to save energy costs and truly “green” up a design.

So, when your client wants a “SOLAR HOUSE” but gets blown away at the exorbitant cost of Photo-Voltaic (which even after the current “stimulus Package” rebates still costs a fortune, and the un-rebated portion has a 30 year pay-back) you can offer them Solar Heated Domestic Water as an honest solar system which is also inexpensive. Where P-V has a 5-19% efficiency, SHDW has a 50-70% efficiency. When clients start hearing 70% efficiency, they will suddenly get interested.

WHERE TO FIND OUT: There is a great series of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) articles, which architects will find useful in understanding what the general contractor’s solar installer sub is trying to accomplish. Go on line to Home Power Magazine and sign up for a one year E-subscription ($9.95).

Next, you can down load  several articles, which will tell you what you need to know. I especially liked the one on System Sizing and Payback as compared to Photo-Voltaic.

  • PV vs Solar Water Heating: Simple Solar Pay Back.
  • Sizing Solar Hot Water Systrems
  • Solar Simplified Hot Water
  • Solar Hot Water: A Primer
  • Do-It-Yourself Tips for Solar Water Heat
  • Single Tank Solar Water Systems

FINALLY: Look at the TAX CREDIT REBATES allowed for a solar water heating system as compared to any other water heating system.

  • ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS: NO TAX CREDIT for conventional electric storage water heaters or electric tankless water.
  • HEAT PUMP WATER HEATERS: There is a tax credit for electric heat pump water heaters for 2009 and 2010 for 30% of the cost, up to $1,500. ENERGY STAR qualified electric heat pump water heaters are expected to reach the market in late-2009.
  • GAS, OIL & PROPANE WATER HEATERS: There are also tax credits for gas, oil and propane water heaters (30% up to $1,500 in 2009 & 2010).
  • SOLAR WATER HEATERS: solar water heaters (30% of the cost, NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT COSTS (no upper limit), through 2016.
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About the author
 Alan Huguenot, Certified Energy Plans Examiner (CEPE), ASHRAE, NFPA, BCA, CABEC, U.S. Green Building Council (LEED) with over 20 years experience as a Mechanical Engineer and Commissioning Agent (CxA). As a California Certified Energy Analyst (CEA), Alan provides Residential Energy Audits and full HVAC and plumbing commissioning services, to make sure that the systems in the residence are operating at their full rated efficiency.

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3 Responses to “Solar Hot Water, Simplified”

  1. Dan Gretsch

    23. Jul, 2009

    I think you make a really great point. The PV industry has done an excellent job of marketing and getting in front of people but solar heating is really where it’s at from an economic stand point. You can get a free guide to selecting and installing a solar water heater at http://www.solarhotusa.com/support/literature.html

  2. Chris

    02. Dec, 2009

    Very interesting point. PV is often the more glamourous option, and you can use the electricity for more things. In terms of affordability, it isn’t as affordable as solar hot water but is often over looked. The UK government only offers £400 subsidy for it, yet offers £2500 for PV. Is that because Solar Hot Water works more effectively and therefore doesn’t need the subsidy?

    One thing with solar hot water is that it needs to be done right. Here’s an interesting guide for your users on choosing the right technology: http://www.allecoenergy.com/index.php?main_page=cat_page&id=8&subid=53&cat=Home

  3. storage manchester

    27. Jan, 2010

    Great comment, love the design of the site too.

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