Solar Hot Water Heating for your Home

The History of Solar Water Heating:

Energy from the sun has been used by humans to heat things for over 2,500 years. In fact, even in ancient Rome the sun was used for heating water as well as homes and other buildings such as public bath houses. The Romans knew that if a house was built so that it opened facing the South, warm sunight would make its way into their homes and easily provide warmth and hot water. It became so popular to design buildings this way that many property disputes arose over sunrights. In the 1700's Antoine Lavoisier invented a solar furnace that could reach temperatures as high as 3000 degrees ferenhight by using an array of mirros positioned just right with respect to the sun.

In modern times, solar energy is used to heat water for use in homes, buildings, and pools. These solar "hot boxes" have become much more efficient and cost effective over the years and continue to be more economically viable as technology and manufacturing processes continue to improve. Around the world, many countries have implemented solar hot water heaters as the preferred method for heating their water. Countries such as Israel and China are world wide leaders in solar hot water heating. Almost all of the domestic hot water needs in Israel are met using solar hot water, and China is at around 80%. While America does not have access to the same solar resources as these two countries, many states such as California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona get enough sunlight to make solar hot water heating a very good option year round. Other states are also good candidatestes but access to the sun may not be as good in these states during the winter months.

Solar Hot Water Heaters Being Used in China

Solar Hot Water Heaters Being Used in China

How Modern Solar Hot Water Heaters Work

Modern solar water heaters work by pumping cold water through a series of tubes that are exposed to sunlight throughout the day. This liquid is stored in a tank and is circulated constantly to ensure that is maintains a constant, uniform temperature. A common domestic solar hot water heater can provide enough hot water for a family with as many as five members. Custom systems can be made to handle more people but the overall square footage of the collector and number of tubes will be increasingly large.

The temperature of the water being pumped through the tubes and into the tank is monitered and controlled using a controller. Most systems also have a traditional boiler linked to their tank in case they need a large amount of hot water, if the sun is not out all day, or if a lot of hot water is needed at night. Installing a boiler will gaurantee that you never run out of hot water even if you solar collector does not provide provide for all of your needs.


Diagram of a Solar Hot Water Heater

Diagram of a Solar Hot Water Heater

You Can Benefit from Using a Solar Hot Water Heater in your Home!

Using a solar hot water heater can have great benefits both financially and for the environment. These units are becoming increasingly cheap because of better technology and manufacturing processes. Now days the cost of a solar hot water heater including installation, is around the same price as a traditional unit that runs on fossil fuels. Using one of these systems in your home will no doubt save you money on your electricity bill every month. Heating water makes up a large portion of everyone's energy bill, sometimes as much as 50% of it! Just think of how much money you could be saving on a monthly basis by switching.

Another way that you can save money with solar hot water is through a variety of tax credits given out by both the state and federal government. While many of these incentives to go solar are different depending on which state you are in, each state offers some kind of renewable energy tax credit based incentive designed to encourage the use of environmentally friendly energy methods. You should take advantage of these incentives while they last.

As we move towards the future, more countries including the United States should begin more openly promoting solar energy as the preferred method for many applications including domestic heating. Other renewable sources such as wind and geothermal will also come into play in this area down the road but for now we should start to do all we can to lower the up front costs of renewable sources of energy through more tax incentives and aggressive funding.

An example of hot water heating in an American home.