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Solar Water Heaters - The Unsung Workhorse of Renewable Energy

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Solar Water Heaters - The Unsung Workhorse of Renewable Energy

While we all look at those awesome looking wind turbines and shiny solar panels, let's also give some thought to the simple but the workshorse-like solar water heater. Humble, reliable and useful, the SWH has needed little subsidies and incentives from governments and has been providing hot water and process heat for over three decades all over the world.

SWH have some real benefits. Here's a post explaining the benefits of solar water heaters for India.

"Some of the salient points about solar water heating in India

1. The payback period is less than 4 years.
2. Typically, for an Indian make system with single BIS approved flat plate collector of 2 sq. m area (required for an average household), the current market costs are reported to be in the range of Rs. 15,000-20,000 ($500)
3. Based on the price of electricity and the region in India where it is installed, the savings per year for a typical Indian household through the use of solar water is in the range of Rs. 4000-7000 ($100-175)
4. Solar water heaters last 15-20 years. This implies that beyond the breakeven period of 4 years, you get hot water at no cost at all.
"

How many renewable energy concepts can you name that have payback periods of 4 years with little or no government subsidy?

China has realized the important of solar water heaters, and as a result, over 25 million Chinese households have these on them. Isn't time that the rest of the world followed China in this?

post #2 of 12

Hi Solarant.  I actually think that solar water heaters will become incresaingly popular because they are a relatively easy way to effectively use solar energy - not too much electricity is needed to heat water, so solar can do it effectively.  What I am also interested in is condensing boilers, which are so incrediibly efficent - does anyone know whether they can be (at least partially perhaps) powered by solar?

post #3 of 12

Hello, your point that the payback for solar how water is very only a few years.  I honestly don't understand why PV is so popular in the press.  It takes a large investment and a longer pay back period.  As I drive around the country I do see more solar heating panels on roof tops.  I believe solar heating  catching on  because it makes economic sense and can be the first step to entering the age of renewable energy.  

post #4 of 12

It is true that solar water heaters are becoming increasingly popular because they are easy to install and an efficient way of heating water and with a pretty good payback time. Actually, SolarTown has a great few articles on solar water heaters, and a pretty comprehensive guide on which ones to choose. http://www.solartown.com/learning/solar-water-heaters/solar-water-heaters-oh-so-many-choices

You seem pretty informed but this could be another source of information you might have missed.

post #5 of 12

Yes, solar water heaters are on the top of excellent clean energy investments.

I always wonder why in  Israel almost every family installed a solar hot water heater, while in California with very similar sun condition I saw very few installations.

 

http://www.solar-energy-for-home.com/solar_hot_water_heaters.html

 

 

post #6 of 12

Solar panels are a good way to reduce your energy costs, and four years does seem to have knocked some years off how quickly people can see the financial benefit, but in the UK the incentive to fit them is changing as the Government has recently changed the subsidy - I hope that people continue to see the benefit of solar panels.

post #7 of 12

I think that the number of homes in Israel that use solar water heaters is around 90%. I'm almost certian that it's mandated, the way it should be here in the US - with reasonable exemptions of course.

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin View Post

Hello, your point that the payback for solar how water is very only a few years.  I honestly don't understand why PV is so popular in the press.  It takes a large investment and a longer pay back period.  As I drive around the country I do see more solar heating panels on roof tops.  I believe solar heating  catching on  because it makes economic sense and can be the first step to entering the age of renewable energy.  


PV is so popular because it's the glamorous solar. Most people don't even realize that there is another solar - Thermal Solar (solar water heaters.) Yes they are rapidly catching on; people are starting to wake up!

 

post #9 of 12

I think a lot of people are just suprised to find out that solar water heaters aren't the super-cool-shiny PV stuff.  Once they realize that its just radiation at work, the sexiness goes away.  But solar water heaters are definitely a great idea, and its awesome that certain parts of the world are leading the charge!

post #10 of 12

Yes, solar water heaters are mandatory in Israel for buildings that are not taller than 8 floors. It is estimated that Israel saves 3% of its national energy consumption by the employment of solar water heaters
 

post #11 of 12

Helpful thread - it seems as though in the US we could benefit and this will likely be a product that grows in popularity.  It's too bad the current climate has too many people skeptical of any government mandates on people...we may never see this kind of renewable energy source used in a widespread way.  Yet imagine what saving 3% of our energy expenditures would do both for our collective carbon footprint and our economy!  

post #12 of 12

I think that solar thermal will be heavily competing with heat pump water heaters for market share in Northern US-climates. Both technologies save home owner roughly 2,500kWh. I can get a high end HPWH installed for $1,500 - $3,000 per system. Solar thermal installed cost in Oregon or Washington runs roughly $8,500-10,500 per system.

 

I am a water heater enthusiast and am selling both types of systems for a living. I love them both and prefer solar. The payback though would favor heat pump water heaters.
 

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