Wood stoves choosing a Solar Water Heater
When I say solar water heater, some people might envision a hot water tank or pool heating system, but what we are actually talking about here is a way to heat your home efficiently and comfortably using water and solar power. As we all know, the rising cost of home heating by traditional methods has many looking for alternative ways to keep their houses cozy during the winter months. Solar energy is just one of several alternative energies that is being looked at by today’s cost conscience homeowner.
A solar water heater may work in conjunction with a hydronic home heating system. This system works by passing water heated by a boiler through a series of pipes and valves that are laid underneath the home’s sub floor. Relying totally on radiant heat, this system can keep your home warmer than an air-forced system and may save you up to 40% in energy costs if you choose to operate your boiler with gas or electric. If you choose to operate your boiler using solar power, operating costs could very well be zero.
Sounds great, huh? I mean who wouldn’t jump at the chance to heat their home free of charge? Well before you jump at this exciting heating alternative make sure that you do your homework first. Just as a solar water heater has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. Be sure that you are familiar with both before you make your final decision.
Since we’ve already touched on some of the advantages of a solar water heater, let’s take a few minutes to examine some reasons why this type of alternative heating system is not the answer for every homeowner.
One of the main disadvantages of a solar system is how much it costs to install one. Depending on the size of your home, you may need to install several solar collection panels and this could get quite expensive. But with a lifespan of up to 20 years, solar panels more than pay for themselves in energy savings. In fact, they can pay for themselves in as little as three years. So I guess the question that you need to ask yourself is this: Am I willing to make a large investment into a solar water heater now for future savings?
To install the hydronic system is another trouble. If you already have one installed and in use, great! Upgrading to a solar system will be a breeze. If not, you might want to keep in mind that these systems are best installed in new constructions and major remodels as they involve laying pipe in a bed of concrete underneath your sub floor. Just as the sun doesn’t shine every day, solar power, which relies on this sun, can be unpredictable. Granted, your solar water heater will be able to store energy to be used on cloudy days but you might still have to operate a backup heating system from time to time.
Keep in mind that these disadvantages should not deter you from seeking a solar power source to heat your home but are meant only to help you make an informed decision. Heating your home with solar energy is a great way to save a lot of money and Earth’s natural resources.