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How Do Solar Water Heaters Work?

Having reliable hot water is a priority for homeowners. At AAA Heating and Cooling, we are often asked, “Can you run a water heater on solar power?” The answer is yes! In fact, solar-powered residential water heaters are a great, environmentally-friendly option to keep hot water flowing in your Beaverton home.

Types of Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters come in a variety of types. However, they all are designed with a collector and storage tank that utilizes thermal energy from the sun to heat water. The two most common solar water heating systems you will encounter for your home are active and passive systems.

Active Solar Water Heating Systems

Active systems come equipped with circulating pumps and controls. There are two main models of active solar water heaters:

  • Direct Circulation: These systems are best used in climates with little to no freezing weather. They work by using pumps to distribute water through the collectors into your residence.
  • Indirect Circulation: These systems work by circulating a non-freezing heat transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. The exchanger is responsible for heating the water, then distributing the warmed water throughout the home. These water heaters are ideal for colder climates, prone to frequent freezing temperatures.

Passive Solar Water Heating Systems

Unlike active-type systems, passive heaters do not use circulating pumps or controls. There are two types of passive systems you are likely to encounter:

  • Thermosyphon System: This system consists of a collection unit on your roof, where the water is heated by the sun. From there, the warmed water flows to the plumbing system once a hot water faucet is engaged.
  • Integral Collector-Storage Passive Systems: These rely on a storage tank with a transparent covering, allowing the sun’s rays to heat the water. Hot water flows from the collection container to the plumbing system. 

When considering the best system for your needs, talk to your local HVAC contractor. Passive systems might be more cost-effective upfront but could be less efficient than active ones depending on where you live. Heating specialists can look at your space, hot water requirements, and current system to recommend the right solution for your home.

Annual solar costs savings are around $274 per year.

Are Solar Water Heaters Worth It?

Now that you know how these systems work, you might ask if going solar is worth it for your home. There are many positive reasons to adapt your home to a solar water heater. One of the main reasons more people switch to solar hot water is its positive impact on the environment. Current energy sources for heating hot water contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gasses, which negatively affect our environment. Solar energy is emission-free, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Solar hot water can also save money on your energy bills. According to studies done by the Department of Energy, annual solar cost savings are around $274.46 a year. Converting your home to be more green can also help you receive a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

Installing a new water heater is always an investment, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons with your HVAC professional.

Get Your Residential Renewable Energy Solar Heating Quote

Even though our NW climate provides plenty of cloudy skies, you don’t have to give up on solar hot water. You might only need a few extra panels and a larger tank to hold hot water without needing a recharge. At AAA Heating and Cooling, we have plenty of options to help you outfit your water heater with solar capabilities. 

Contact us today and schedule a thorough consultation. Looking for repair and maintenance? We do that, too!