Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions About a Solar Hot Water Heater
A solar hot water heater is a good choice for saving money on your electric or gas bill every month; they're also good for homes where you may not have the budget or space on the roof for full solar panels. If you're thinking of installing a solar hot water system, note a few questions you might have so you know if it's a good choice for you.
Can a solar system replace an electric or gas system completely?
Note that solar panels work on stored electricity; the panels collect sunlight and then convert that energy into electricity that you can use in the home. The amount of energy in the converter attached to the panels or the batteries that come with them will be determined by the amount of sunlight in your area, and how much of that stored energy you've used.
During wintertime or a rainy season, or if you use more energy for hot water than can be provided by the converter, your hot water heater will need to switch to standard electric or gas. However, if you live in a very sunny area and use only a small amount of hot water in your home, a solar panel might suffice; if you do plan on getting rid of your electric or gas water heater, just keep in mind that your converter or batteries may run out of stored power at some time and you may be left with cold water.
Does a solar system cause or eliminate hard water?
You might think that, because your solar system is collecting sunlight for energy, it somehow "burns" the water or creates hard water, but this isn't the case. Hard water is caused by mineral deposits in the water itself. A filter can eliminate these minerals, as the energy collected by your solar panels won't burn away those elements either. Solar panels simply operate the water heater and don't affect the actual water in the home.
What is the difference between an active and passive system?
Water needs to be pumped through a heating element when you use a solar hot water heater; an active system means that there is a pump that is powered by the solar system to pump the water through. A passive system means that water moves through by way of natural convection, or pressure. The active system will have more parts that may need replacing over time, but may be more efficient at heating the water, so keep these factors in mind when deciding which is best for your home.