We have a pretty good idea what’s on your mind when it comes to water heaters and solar water heating. And if you don’t see your question below, just fill out our brief contact form and we will get back to you with an answer.
Good question. Actually, a solar water heating system will typically collect about half the solar energy of a clear, sunny day on an overcast day. If you have ever had the experience of going to the beach on an overcast day and still getting a sunburn, you understand this phenomenon. Clouds block many of the visible wavelengths of sunlight, but much of the heat energy still gets through.
Yes. Solar heated water is often hotter than the thermostat setting on your water heater. In fact, for safety reasons our systems include mixing valves to make sure the hot water going into your house isn’t too hot. On the other hand, sometimes we may have extended periods of very cloudy and rainy weather. During these periods, a backup electric heating element in your water heater / storage tank will automatically heat water to the water heater’s thermostat setting.
Yes. Solar water heating collectors typically deliver excellent performance in Florida during cold weather because the sky is very clear during winter high pressure waves. The glass cover plate and insulation inside the collector prevent collected heat from escaping to the outside air.
Usually, no. Solar water heating systems are designed to heat and store 24 hours worth of hot water during the daylight hours, so the tank has to be large enough to store 24 hours’ worth of hot water. Most conventional electric water heaters in Florida homes have a capacity of about 52 gallons. Standard solar storage tank sizes are typically 80, 100 and 120 gallons, with 80 gallons being appropriate for most three- to four-person households. Also, solar storage tanks typically have better insulation than conventional electric water heaters, to minimize overnight heat loss.
We don’t think so. Even with a tankless water heater, the water you use still has to be heated with electricity or gas. The tankless water heater only eliminates energy costs for maintaining the temperature of water that has been heated and is sitting in the storage tank awaiting use. A tankless water heater is about 15 to 20 percent less expensive to operate than a conventional electric or gas water heater.
Tankless water heaters do have drawbacks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Sometimes … even the largest, gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses … taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a (tankless) water heater to its limit.”
Naturally, you can overcome this problem by installing multiple tankless water heaters. On the other hand, the total installation cost for more than one tankless water heater can quickly approach the cost of a single solar water heating system.
Both active and passive solar water heating systems come with a 100% lifetime warranty against freeze damage. The active and the passive solar water heating systems are both approved by the Florida Solar Energy Center for use in North Florida. Active solar systems have a conventional electric heating element to heat water on the few days that it might be needed. Passive solar systems act as a pre-heater to heat water before it is drawn into the cold inlet of the standard gas or electric water heater. All solar water heating systems deliver both higher temperature water and more water volume than conventional water heaters. Typically 40 to 80 gallons more hot water than conventional water heaters.
Today solar collectors are typically integrated into the slope of the roof. This method of installation gives the solar collector the appearance of a quality, opaque, glass skylight. In most cases, since the piping is not seen, it actually improves the appearance of the home because it looks like an elegant, expensive skylight. State Energy Conservation offers a free solar site survey to determine the location of the solar collector, and to verify that you will not have any collector shading problems. You typically need only about 4 hours of direct sun (between 9am to 4pm) per day.
Any time you use solar energy to offset the amount of fossil fuels that are burned, you contribute to everyone’s health and welfare. Operating one solar water heater instead of an electric water heater saves the equivalent of nine barrels of oil every year and reduces carbon dioxide emissions (a greenhouse gas) by 1600 pounds and sulfur dioxide (contributes to acid rain) emissions by 12 pounds. Multiply those emissions per household by all the homes in your neighborhood, town, county, or state, and the benefits—and the air and water—become even more clear.