Solar Water Heater GuideGary Shif
Orlando has an awesome climate. On 111 days each year, it reaches over 90°F. It’s also sunny 66% of the time.
These stats show that Orlando is potentially an ideal location for a solar water heater. They harness the power of the sun to give you hot showers and clean dishes. They can even reduce your energy bills.
But the question is, are solar water heaters really worth the expense? Let’s explore the answer together.
What Is a Solar Water Heater?
Let’s clear up one thing right away – getting a solar water heater is not the same as getting solar panels to generate electricity.
Solar water heaters do two jobs – they heat and store hot water. You can’t use the solar energy they harness for any other purpose. They don’t use photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.
Instead, they use solar heat to heat either water or another substance which then heats water in a tank.
How Solar Water Heaters Work
There are three different types of solar water heaters. Each has its pros and cons.
ICS or Batch Heaters
Tubes full of cold water pass through a solar collector. The water heats up and gets collected in a tank. They’re great for climates like Florida’s that are warm year-round, with no risk of the water freezing.
Evacuated-Tube Solar Collectors
This is an energy-efficient model that is often used in businesses. The sun’s rays are concentrated onto the water by a vacuum-sealed glass tube. The water flows through this, resulting in excellent heat transfer with very little lost energy.
Flat-plate collectors (FPCs) are the most common type of solar water heaters out there. They can look a little like a solar panel, with a flat plate, usually painted black. The heat transfers to tubes of water that cycle in and out of the collector, keeping the water hot.
How Much Do Solar Water Heaters Cost?
The Department of Energy estimates the cost of solar water heaters at $100/sf. Of course, this varies from city to city and depends on the system you choose. But as they also point out, because solar heat is free, it protects you from future increases in energy costs!
Even in Florida, you probably won’t be able to have 100% of your hot water needs filled by your solar water heater. You’ll need a backup gas or electric system. A hybrid water heater is another great option that reduces your energy usage.
How to Find the Best System
When comparing systems, use the solar energy factor as your starting point.
This tells you how much energy to heat your water comes from the sun. All solar water heaters have a rating from 1 to 11.
Next, take a look at its solar fraction rating. This is the fraction of the total water heating load it delivers. It will have a rating between 0 and 1.0.
Energy efficiency is important but it’s not the only factor to consider. Take into account the overall cost of the system, any warranties, and the cost of financing.
Federal Tax Credits
Currently, there are federal tax credits available when you use solar power to generate at least half of your energy needs. This can include solar water heaters. The tax credit is currently 26%, but this will fall to 22% after 12/31/2022.
If you’re thinking about installing solar heating, now’s the time to do it. The federal tax credits will expire at the end of 2023.
Are you thinking about using the solar water heater just for your pool or hot tub? In that case, sorry, you won’t qualify for the tax credit. It’s got to be used for regular residential hot water use.
Is a Solar Water Heater Really Worth It?
In Orlando, yes they are.
Sure, they’re expensive to start with. But the benefits of a solar or hybrid water heater far outweigh the initial cost.
The Benefits of a Solar Water Heater
You will see your energy bills plummet after you install a solar water heater. And remember – they’ll stay down. No matter what happens to the price of electricity or gas, you’ll continue to have a steady and free supply of hot water.
Solar water heaters usually require very little maintenance. Like any water heater, they’ll need to be flushed to remove mineral deposits from time to time. But other than that, they pretty much take care of themselves.
Home buyers are more conscious than ever of their carbon footprint and the rising costs of energy. If you decide to sell your home, many buyers will see a solar water system as a major bonus. It could even increase the value of your home.
And finally, you’ll be playing your part to support the environment as well. There’s no need to feel guilty about taking those long showers when you’ve used solar energy to warm your water!
The Disadvantages of a Solar Water Heater
Here in Orlando, we can rely on the sun year-round. This means that the only things you could see as disadvantages of having a solar water heater are the upfront cost and its appearance.
A solar water heater is never going to be the most beautiful accessory you put on your house. But when you see your energy bills start to come down, it’ll look a whole lot better!
Although the initial cost is greater than a traditional water heater, it’s a system that keeps on giving. Depending on your water use, the size of your home, and the system you get, it could pay for itself in energy savings in a decade or less. You can’t say that about a traditional water heater!
Choose Choice Plumbing Orlando for All Your Water Heater Needs
If you’re in the market for a new water heater, look no further than Choice Plumbing Orlando. Whether you need a traditional heater or a hybrid one, we’re here to help you find the perfect model. Our highly skilled plumbers will get your hot water flowing in a flash.
Need help with Water Heater? contact our water heater support request a call back online today!