Going off the grid can simplify your life in a lot of ways, but there’s also a lot to think about. Like what about all those old appliances? We’ll help answer that question in this article by looking a the best solar water heaters.
Are Solar Water Heaters Different From Other Types?
This was one of the first things that popped into my head when thinking about solar water heaters. Can’t it just be that the energy source is different but the tank is basically the same?
As it turns out, even when it comes to solar water heaters (SWH), there are two main types: passive and active.
For heat transfer, either system can be either direct or indirect. We’ll cover the difference between those as well.
Passive Solar Water Heaters
Passive systems take advantage of convection in order to heat pipes. Those pipes contain fluid which will then transfer heat.
These systems are cheaper and require little ongoing maintenance. However, they may not be ideal in areas with extreme temperatures, as both freezing and overheating can occur.
In addition, these systems are less efficient.
For those who can afford a more expensive and for whom overheating and freezing are a concern, an active system may be a better choice.
Active Solar Water Heaters
Active SWH use a pump to move water or fluid (hence the name).
Active SWH are essentially the opposite of passive systems; they are more expensive and require more maintenance.
However, they are more efficient and less prone to overheating or freezing issues. They are also more customizable.
Direct Heat Transfer
Direct systems circulate water through collectors and are fairly cheap. However, freezing and overheating is a problem with these systems as well.
With direct systems, freezing can be an issue unless they are freeze-tolerant.
Indirect Heat Transfer
Indirect systems use a heat exchanger or pump to move fluid to potable water. These are also known as closed-loop systems.
In these systems, the heat-transfer fluid can be a mix of antifreeze and/or water. These systems can often protect against both freezing and overheating.
Best Solar Water Heaters
Note that these systems are expensive. I may link to them on Amazon for more info, but these are not small purchases by any means.
I am just giving you a few to check out so you can learn more about them. However, I recommend you do some more in-depth research of your own before committing to anything.
In addition, you can find a lot of information out there about DIY solutions for these. You may not be comfortable DIY-ing something like this, but it can probably save you a lot of money if you are savvy with this sort of thing.
That said, there are surprisingly few pre-built solutions that I was able to find. You may find them from companies such as Solar Direct, though I cannot personally speak to their reliability.
Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System
This system from Duda Solar is one of the pre-built systems you can find on Amazon. With this particular heater, you can opt for either single-coil or dual-coil.
Plus, you can upgrade its capacity to 300 liters, 400 liters, etc…all the way up to 1,000 liters. Needless to say, just about any household will have an option that works for them.
Note that this unit is eligible for a 30% federal tax credit, which is quite significant, especially at this price point.
This closed-loop system is weather-resistant as well.
Sunbank Solar 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater
Just like the previous system, this one is SRCC-certified and eligible for a 30% federal tax credit. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.
This particular tank has a 40-gallon capacity, which Sunbank says is suitable for a 1-3 person household.
It has an 80-gallon tank for households of more than 3.
Also of note is that Sunbank says the energy efficiency of this system is 92-96%, so it is almost certain to save you money in the long run.
Solar Water Heaters: Conclusion
As you can see, there are a few options available, but it appears the number of pre-built systems are a bit limited at this point.
Nevertheless, while these systems are expensive up front, they can save you money in the long run.
Plus, there are ways to DIY your own heating solution. Perhaps that is the subject for another article.
Do you have a solar water heater? How has your experience been? Let us know in the comments.