Purchasing a solar water heater is by far the smartest renewable energy investment most homeowners can buy. It’s the most efficient way to produce energy from the sun, but the benefits don’t stop there. Solar water heater owners often experience a greater abundance of hot water with less worry about running out and having to wait for the tank to replenish. Those who heat their homes with solar hot water also enjoy the freedom of setting their thermostat to the desired level without harm to the environment or their budgets.
Good planning ensures great results. If you are interested in solar hot water, here are some things to consider:
First, determine if your site is appropriate for solar
The easiest way to do this is to contact a qualified solar contractor for a solar site assessment.
If you have an area on your property that receives direct south sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. year round, and a stable roof or open ground for mounting panels, you’re good to go. However, even if you do not meet these requirements, you still may qualify for a solar water heater. A professional solar assessor will have the measuring and energy modeling equipment to tell you for sure how well a solar thermal system will meet your needs.
Next, evaluate your roof or other supporting structure
If you plan to put your panels on your roof, it needs to be in excellent condition.
Taking panels down for roof repair is expensive, so it’s best to replace a deteriorating roof before you put up the solar panels. If your roof is in good condition, be sure to review your roof warranty to determine how your solar installation might affect it.
Consider investing in a standing seam metal roof if your contractor plans to install your panels flush with the roof. Metal roofs, like solar water heaters, last for decades. While other roof options are also acceptable, going with metal will reduce or eliminate the need to disturb your system for roof replacement in your lifetime. Standing seam roofs allow the racking system to be clipped to the roof without penetrating it.
If your panels will be tilt mounted, any good quality roof is suitable. Mounting your panels on the ground is also an option. This works well in cases where the roof structure or orientation is not acceptable.
Finally, choose your contractor carefully
A good contractor will confidently handle nearly all the myriad details of designing and installing your solar water heater. Some of these include:
- Sizing the system to meet your needs
- Choosing quality, Energy Star-approved components
- Properly matching system components for optimal performance
- Handling permitting applications and ensuring the work meets code
- Making sure the project qualifies for and receives any available rebates and incentives
For more information on planning your solar hot water heating system, request your free solar estimate here.