solar water heaterWill buying a solar water heater save you money on your power bills? The answer of course is yes. However what you need to consider is how long it will take for you to recoup the investment in buying a solar water heating unit. This varies based on the area of the country you live in, the type of unit you buy, and how much hot water your family uses. If you have a larger family living in Arizona you will get back your investment faster then a smaller family living in North Carolina. In places where freezing or frost is a possibility such as here in South Carolina it will be necessary to install an antifreeze or a pump down system to prevent damage to the unit. The cost of a solar water heater with installation is upwards from $4,000. Available rebates, tax credits or grants can make the system cheaper.

On average, Solar Water Heaters cost around $6,766 (80 gallon tank) installed according to our most recent data from the JEA Solar Incentive Program (October 2012 through September 2013). The highest system cost was $9,654 (>120 gallon tank) and the lowest system cost was$3,935 (<80 gallon tank). – From JEA Solar Incentive Program.

Here is a  list of the pros and cons of solar water heaters

Pros of having a Solar Water Heater

FREE Energy (sort of) – Solar Water heaters do not use electricity to heat the water, however if pumps are needed some electricity will be needed for them to operate. Other than that, once you recoup the initial investment you are essentially free and clear for the life of the solar water heater.

Greenest Solution – If you want to “get off the grid” for some of your energy needs, this is the best way to accomplish that with your water heating needs. Installing a solar water heater would reduce your hot-water carbon footprint by 50% or more. You are also conserving nonrenewable fuels for applications for which there are currently no easily available renewable energy sources.

Great in sunny and warm climates – Areas such as Florida (despite all the rain) and the Southwest of the United States will benefit most from owning a solar water heater as they will get much more fuel than other areas.

Increase in overall home value – Having green energy solutions as part of a home increases the home’s overall value.

Federal Tax Credits – By opting for greener energy solutions you can get tax credits to help lower upfront cost, and some local goverments also offer incentives that also help offset part of the initial investment.

Quiet – Solar power systems run with little to no noise.

Cons or concerns of solar water heaters

Initial Investment – At upwards of $4,000 with installation – a solar powered water heater is by far the most expensive type of water heater you can buy. It is worth noting however that especially in sunny areas it also saves you the most on your power bills.

Frost and Freeze – If you live in a colder area where frost or freeze is likely you will need a unit with antifreeze or a pump down system and direct heater models (batch, thermosiphon and direct-active) are not unavailable to you due to the risk of freezing. Here is a link exploring the different types of solar water heaters.

Home Location – You will need a good mounting location with good exposure to the sun for your solar water heater. If you are in a home surrounded by taller structures or in an urban area – your home may not be a good candidate for solar power. Also if you live in parts of the Pacific Northwest where cloud cover and colder temperatures are frequent it probably does not make economical sense to own a solar water heater.

Water Quality – If your water quality is hard or acidic it can corrode a water circulation system. If this is the case your home is not a good candidate for a solar water  heating system.

Building Regulations – Due to the possibility of earthquakes or other concerns strict weight limits  for roof-mounted equipment are in place in some areas. A solar water heating system may be deemed too heavy.

Require More Maintenance – As there is more equipment involved with solar water heaters there is more of a  likelihood for increased maintenance.

Run of Bad Weather – You will need a backup source of energy if a string of  days with little to no sunshine occur.

The U.S Department of Energy has a page on their website that shows you how to estimate the cost and energy efficiency of a solar water heater.

Now you have some information on the benefits and concerns of owning a solar water heater you can make a more educated decision on whether a solar water heating system is the right choice for your home and family. If you decide you would like to install a solar water heater KT Plumbing can install it for you. Give us a call at 864-663-6105. If you need a tankless or conventional water heater we can handle that for you as well.

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