A solar energy water heater use the sun's energy to heat the water in your home and installing one in your home is a fantastic home improvement and has numerous advantages.
The first advantage is the fact that you get free hot water all year round wherever you live. The second is the huge savings that can be made when you ustalise such a system. The third advantage to a solar powered water heater is the fact that you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and the fourth and final advantage is the increased value it can add to your home.
But it is not all good news, there have been questions over efficiency especially in less sunny climates and in homes which use a high volume of water.
There are two main different type of solar energy water heaters on the market but they both work in predominately the same way. Solar panels (or collectors as they are also known), usually fitted to your roof heat up water located in a cylindrical storage tank below.
It is an important question as solar water heaters are not right for everybody. The question can be answered simply by evaluting your present situation.
1. Do you live in a sunny enviroment?
Unlike conventional solar power which can work efficiently in any climate, a solar energy water heater is really only worth investing in if it is sunny most of the time.
2. How much water do you use?
There is a limit to how much hot water solar powered water heaters. If you have three or more residentsin your home then it may not be worth it as water heating kits can only produce so much water before you need to switch back to conventional heating systems.
3. Is your present system compatible with a solar water heatin system?
The real question here is do you have room for an additional water tank? If not and your current tank is not built with solar power in mind then either a solar system is not suitable for you or you will need to replace your current tank.
4. Is your boiler compatible?
Most boilers are suited to solar additions but if it is a combi boiler then the chances are then it is not.
Depending on the amount of sunshine you get and how much water you use, the average household can save between $80 - $120 a year using a solar system. Of course this i ignoring the various government schemes which can pay you for heating your own water.
With regards to how much of an environmental difference you can make with a solar electric water heater; the average home in the US running on gas could stop roughly 240kg of CO2 per year from being released into the environment. If you use electricity heat your water then you could save about 500kg per year
So you've wieghed up the options and decided that you want to go ahead with a solar energy water heater for your home! Great, now there are several options you can choose from.
Have a look at some of the heating systems listed on this page, follow the links for more information. Also check relevant government sites to see how you can take advantage of subsidies, grants and tax breaks -most western countries have them.
Then all that is left is to decide whether you are happy to purchase and fit the system yourself or would rather have a professional do it for you.
Get the Think Solar Ezine