Saturday, March 22, 2014

141- Solar Water Heaters: A Great "Green Plumbing" Option

Solar Water Heaters: A Great "Green Plumbing" Option

Solar Water Heaters: A Great "Green Plumbing" Option

As Americans become increasingly interested in green technologies of all types, solar water heaters are growing in popularity for both homeowners and businesses. Various utilities and government agencies offer tax credits and rebates for solar technology, making these products affordable as well as desirable and environmentally friendly.

Solar water heating is a relatively simple and straightforward concept, but knowing which type of system is right for you may be confusing.

Many industry experts regard the passive solar water heater system as the best choice, for several reasons. A passive system is less expensive, easier to install, and may be more reliable over time because it has no moving parts. This type of system uses no power at all, so they even work during a blackout. 

For warmer regions, a passive system will work year 'round, but in most parts of the country it will work well during the temperate months. A passive system may provide up to 90% of the hot water needed, depending on the climate. In this type of system, water flows from the heater's tank via pipes that run through solar collector panels, which are heated by the sun. The now-heated water flows back into the tank for use in your home or business.

A second type of solar water heater, known as the active-indirect or closed-loop system, will work year 'round for climates that experience periods of freezing. This type of system costs a bit more, and has moving parts and pieces that may need extra maintenance or repair over time. The active-indirect system does require power to run; so, it will not work during a blackout. This system can offer up to 80% of the hot water required, but will provide a smaller percentage during cold months. This system works in a similar way to a passive system, but, instead of water, a type of thermal fluid (let's call it solar antifreeze) circulates through the collector panels for heating, then transfers that energy to heat the water via a solar heat exchanger. This prevents the fluid and water from coming into contact or becoming mixed together.

The benefits of using a solar-powered system to heat your water are significant. Cost to operate may be as little as 10% of a traditional system's operating cost over the life of the system, while storage capacity is typically doubled. Like many green technologies, solar water heaters may increase the value of your home. While utility charges may increase at any time, the costs to operate a solar unit remain fairly consistent, thanks to the sun's energy.

Determining which solar water heating system is right for you is a little tricky. You can do your own research to determine need and potential cost, or you can consult with a licensed plumbing company that understands the new and growing technology of solar power water heaters. A qualified solar water heater installer can help clarify your needs, tell you about available options, and give a cost estimate for purchase and installation. Installation of solar hot water heaters requires specialized training and equipment; for this reason, it is critical to make sure that your plumber is qualified to help you in this process.

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