Solar technology is seeing more and more use in homes across the country, as homeowners try to cut the operating costs of their homes. This is all well and good for electrical systems, but what about water heaters? Demand for hot water is more infrequent than demand for electricity in most homes, but heating water takes quite a bit of energy when compared to a lot of electrical appliances. So the question becomes: are solar water heaters actually reliable? Let’s examine the answer to that question, starting with how solar water heaters actually work.
Anatomy of a Solar Water Heater
There are two kinds of active solar water heating systems: direct and indirect. Direct solar water heaters circulate water through the solar collectors of the system, where they are directly heated by the sun before being pumped into the house. Indirect solar water heaters use fluids like refrigerant to absorb heat from the sun, which is then directed through a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is what heats the water in this type of system. Both systems have their pros and cons, but the rule of thumb is that direct solar water heaters work better in warmer climates while indirect solar water heaters are suited to colder climates.
The reliability of any solar module is dependent on the amount of direct sunlight it can collect. The more sunlight your solar collector is exposed to, the more water your solar water heater will be able to heat. Persistent cloud cover, long periods of darkness (in regions like Alaska), and other environmental conditions can provide obstacles to your solar water heater keeping up with demand. However, most properly installed solar water heaters are more than capable of providing just as much hot water as any other system. As with all systems like this, there is going to be a wide variance in efficiency depending on individual circumstances. It is best to contact a professional before making a decision.
If you’d like to know more about solar water heaters, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We provide water heaters throughout the Kirkland area.