Have you considered solar power, but thought that its too expensive? Perhaps you want to start with a solar water heater instead! Solar thermal panels can heat your water without expensive electricity with the power of the sun. And, you don’t have to live in a sunny climate for them to be effective.
Part of the cost savings is realized from the fact that there are a number of DYI Solar Hot Water instructions and/or kits to use. Instead of paying contractors, you can do it yourself, and also tap into some generous tax incentives for renewable energy.
Before you get going, however, you’ll have to decide which type of solar water heater system to install, either a closed loop glycol system, or a drainback system.
With a closed loop glycol system, a thermal collector is warmed by radiant energy from the sun. Once the collector is warmer than the water being heated, a pump starts circulating the water to heat it evenly. This continues until the storage tank reaches its maximum set temperature, or until the thermal collector is no longer warmer than the water in the tank. Because there is pressure involved with the closed loop glycol system, the unit will have to include an expansion tank, pressure gauge and pressure relief valve, for safety measures. Once installed, this solar hot water system runs reliably for years, with the only exception of periodic changing of the glycol solution.
In a [drainback] system, the water is not pressurized. It works in a manner similar to the closed loop glycol system. The thermal collectors are warmed by the sun; once the collector is warmer than the water in the tank, a pump circulates the water until maximum heating is achieved. These are so simple and affordable that drainback systems are usually the first type considered when a homeowner desires to install a solar hot water system.
I was impressed by this DIY solar water heater instructional video. Don’t you think you could do the same thing?
Your return on investment (ROI) for a solar water heater is anywhere from 2-8 years, depending on the size of the system and your local real estate market. Traditionally, renewable energy installations increase the value of property based on energy/electricity savings associated therewith. Of course, your utility savings will start immediately.
Want to learn more about solar water heaters? You’re at the right place. We’ll put up additional posts this week. If you have specific questions, be sure to leave them in the comments below.