Solar Water Heater – DIY Can Save You Money
Harnessing the sun’s energy is a concept as old as time. Tasks as simple as drying laundry or preserving meats have been accomplished exclusively by the sun for centuries. Heating water is another example of solar dependence. Why spend hard-earned money heating your home’s water the old fashioned way on a grid-tied electric water heater? You can easily heat the same water for free when you choose the new old fashioned way: solar energy.
Solar water heaters can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. Crude models utilize snake-like black hoses that run up and down the roofline of your home to absorb the heat from the sun, heating the water inside the hoses. The hoses then run to the indoor plumbing where the hot water can be used for bathing, laundry and dishwashing.
More elaborate models utilize solar panels that are placed strategically in a southward-facing position, either on the home’s roof or on a framework in the yard. These panels collect solar energy from the sun and transfer that energy to a converter box that connects to a more traditional style water heater. Many of these units offer a grid-tied option in case of successive cloudy days or excessive hot water usage.
Regardless of which method you choose, installing a solar water heater is not difficult. Most materials can be ordered from the Internet or purchased at the local home improvement store. If you choose to install solar panels, make sure to research the wattage needed for your water heater before you begin the project. You will also need to allocate adequate space on the roof or in the yard for the solar panels to collect full sun. Placing solar panels on the roof of a shaded home will not yield anything but frustration.
Most traditional water heaters operate on 220 volts of electricity. Because these units are often labeled “Energy Hogs”, it’s advisable to connect a lower voltage unit to your solar energy system. If you live in an area that sees a mere two to four hours per day of full sun, you will need to either conserve on hot water usage or utilize a backup energy source by tying the system to the grid. Hiring an electrician for this process may be wise. You do not want your solar panels to “back-feed” electricity into the grid.
Once your DIY solar system is in place, have an inspector from the electric company check it out. Many power companies offer rebates for using Green Energy. Federal and State tax credits can also be applied to “approved” solar water heating systems.
The money saved by using the sun to heat your water will quickly pay for any initial costs incurred during installation. Soon you will be enjoying free hot water with every shower you take and every dish you wash. Beyond the savings for your wallet lies the saving of the environment. Solar energy is clean energy that renews itself every day. Why not take advantage of it