How would you like to save money and help the environment too? Well, now it’s not just the stuff of Al Gore type visionaries, it is very feasible and common to heat your home’s water system through solar energy. In fact, nations such as Israel and the state of Hawaii
now require solar water heating. It is quite easy to heat not only your home, but your swimming
ball pool with that giant orange ball that never fails to show it’s face, even if it’s behind the clouds or on the other side of the earth.
Also, you don’t need to worry to your home will look like an MIT science project laboratory. Companies now make aesthetically pleasing solar panel heating units that do not take up a lot of space, and, according to scientific research, at least 1000 pounds of CO2 per year won’t enter the earth’s atmosphere as a result of your decision heat your water through solar energy, according to the Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
I am currently building a cabin on Anderson Island in Washington State and trying shopping for a solar system myself to power not only my hot water but everything. If you don’t want to bother with installation, you can purchase a solar water heating system that can heat your own home from anywhere from $300 – $1500 dollars and they usually involve little to no maintenance. They can be installed on your roof or any elevated area. According to the U.S.D.E.E.E.R.E, they usually consist of a water tank that holds about 50 gallons of water and can be filled manually with cold water or from any water system in your home. They can usually operate in temperatures ranging down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and work all year round.
There is a rating and certification system for solar energy product known as the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. They are nationally recognized and affiliated with state and regulatory bodies and the following ten systems are certified by their organization. Typically, they don’t offer exact prices as prices vary depending on your home’s dimensions and location.
ACR Solar International – located in Carmichael, CA. Website: www.solarroofs.com. Their residential systems involve a set of solar panels that you place on your roof top and they range in size from six 6′ x 12″ and weigh three pounds to about twice that. The six foot model costs about $300 and there are different designs for all climates ranging from tropical to “freezing”. The ACR Solar system also qualifies you for a 30% Federal income tax rebate
Pacific West Solar – located in Phoenix, AZ. Website: www.bubblingspingssolar.com. They offer another economically sized model at about 32 square feet and a weight of 99 lbs. It has a great operating temperature range where it can fully function at anywhere from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 570 degrees Fahrenheit and absorbs plenty of energy even on cloudy days. Customers recommend this system for its low maintenance and for being aesthetically pleasing. They don’t disclose costs without consulting with the customer first, but their system can provide a yearly savings of 75% on your heating bill.
Mr. Sun Solar – located in Portland, Or. Website: www.solreliant.com. They offer one of the easiest to install, and non conspicuous solar water heating systems I’ve seen. They claim they can install their system within an hour and there’s only one penetration in your roof for all the wires and tubes. It also self regulates the power output so you if the sun shines brighter you get more power. They are willing to install the kit for you for the basic cost of labor.
Beijing Sunda Solar Energy Technology Co Ltd. – located in Beijing, China. Website: www.sundasolar. Out of all of these companies, these guys take planning your solar energy kit down to an exact science. Before they will even consider selling you one of their products, they will walk you through angle measurements in terms of your home’s deviation from the North/South hemispheric line to latitudes and longitudes in relation to roof angles. They also use exact meteorological measurements of solar radiation temperature variances. In the long run, I would probably have a hard time finding a more efficient system once it’s installed. The solar panels are more tubular in shape and not as esthetically pleasing, but are great for functionality. They also offer a mounting system where the water tank, panels, and every other accessories are combined into one unit in case you want a system on your property that is away from your home. It still looks odd however, and your neighbors might mistake it for a piece of new age art.
Heat Transfer Products – located in East Freetown, Massachusetts. Website: www.htproducts.com. Inconspicuous with no solar rough panels. It could fit in your basement and pass for your average water heater. Absorbs heat from the sun in a patented foam casing and even comes with a back up electrical hook up and boiler in case you live in the pacific northwest where I live and the sun isn’t getting through the clouds. Comes with a 7 year warranty. Customers claim it is easy to install.
Silicon Solar Incorporated – located in Bainbridge, NY. Website: www.siliconsolar.com. So easy to install that a group of local high school students built one for a science project. This company sells solar water heaters starting at $825. They also have one of the most innovative websites I have seen with a free estimator of your financial and environmental savings according to your home and climate. Their products are equally innovative. They customize virtually any sized product depending on what size you want and what price you want to pay, or if you want to save some money on your electric bill, you can get a smaller, cheaper model, or a larger model if you want to save more or heat your entire water system through solar power. With one of the most advanced methods of vacuum insulation systems in the business, their solar panels will absorb enough heat in the spring and summer months to provide plenty of heat left over for winter even if you live in a frigid climate or have constantly overcast conditions.
Solar Skies Mfg, LLC – Located in Starbucks, MN. Website: www.solarskies.com. This is a great site if you’re looking to save money and put together a hodge podge system. Rather than offer one complete seat up, it sells a convenient electronic power control that allows you to control your system than you have I wide array of installation units and solar panels to choose from. Truly the best company if you wish to customize. Their panels range in size from 3′ x 7″ to 4′ x 10″ and they are super thin at 1/8 of an inch. They also provide a great dealer and referral service for wherever you live and can help you become a licensed dealer if you want to jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon.
Solar Thermal Systems – Located in Phoenix, AZ. Website: www.stssolar.com. They sell one of the best products if want everything bundled together into a nice, tight package. There are very few components to work with and it’s great for those who want to conserve space. Their prized package is one that combines water, space, and solar heating all in one convenient package known as the SRCC OG300, which might fit in a laundry room. If you are only looking for water heating, If you’re interested in saving money, earning Title 24 energy credits, where your state can give your tax rebates, and receiving a Federal Tax rebates you can’t beat it. It’s basically a stainless steel boiler with a not too extravagant apparatus around it that wouldn’t take up too much space in your basement or garage. It contains an electrical backup system in case their isn’t enough solar energy so it has you completely covered. This is the best I’ve seen for federal and state energy rebates for your consciousness energy conservation and environmentalism.
Sunbank Solar Collectors – Located in Anderson, CA. Website: www.sunbank.com. Like most reputable solar water heating systems, the SunBank system can withstand winds of up to 150 miles per hour. However, it’s system is an incredibly light 19 pounds with dimension’s of 6′ x 20″ x 3″. If someone where in a plane above your home they might mistake it for a skylight. It is by far the easiest that I’ve seen when it comes to installation and uninstallation as it requires no soldering to attach to your water system. It also comes with a 20 year warranty which is longer than most.
SunEarth, Inc. – located in Fontana, CA. Website: www.sunearthinc.com. Sunearth offers multiple options in color, design, and adaptability for both residential and commercial use. You can have an active system where you control the energy output or a passive system for residential units where it automatically regulates itself based on water pressure; this is considered best for residential systems. Their panels come in both black chrome and nickel plated depending on your preference. They partner with manufacturers in Australia who sell full systems but their best seller is their Empire series with panels that range in size from approximately 40″ by 70″ and 60 pounds to 48″ x 122″ and 122 lbs. It is rugged, durable, and easy to customize for newly constructed homes. In ratings tests in Florida it has withstood 30 days of extreme temperature exposure, water, and pressure tests.
Regardless of which brand you purchase, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your tax rebate check. You may not be able to save the world on your own, but dramatically reducing your “carbon foot print,” by reducing carbon dioxide output. And who knows, you might decide to become a dealer or start a trend in your neighborhood and maybe get the ball rolling in saving the environment.
U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (http://www.energy.gov/)
Solar Rating and Certification Program (http://www.solar-rating.org/)