Solar Hot Water System

Solar Hot Water Heating FAQs

How economical is Solar Hot Water Heating?

Heating household water accounts for a considerable part of all the energy we use in our homes. More energy is required to heat water than to light the home, refrigerate food and dry clothes combined. Your conventional hot water heater may use more energy than anything else in your home.


Are solar energy systems cost effective in New England?

Yes. It is more cost effective to have a solar system heat water in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticiut than it is in warmer climates. The water comes into your house at a colder temperature in colder climates about 40°F-50°F and the solar energy brings the temperature up to the desired thermostat setting usually 120°F. The elimanation of resources used (oil, gas, electicity) heighten the savings, thus making the investment of FREE SUN ENERGY extremely cost effective and reliable.


How does a solar hot water system work?

Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar panels. There are two types of solar water heating: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't. Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. Solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

domestic hot water solar system diagram Diagram and explanation courtesy of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EREE) office of the U.S. Department of Energy.

There are two types of active water heating systems:


Direct Circulation Systems:

Pumps circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. They work well in climates where it rarely freezes.


Indirect Circulation Systems:

Pumps circulate a non-freezing fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. They are popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.


Do hot water solar systems require maintenance?

Yes. A routine fluid change every few years is required for the system to operate properly and at its highest efficiency.

Can a domestic hot water system (DHW) be added to an existing home?

Absolutely, a domestic hot water system can easily be installed (retrofitted) to most homes without disruption to the house.


Do solar hot water heating systems have a back-up method?

Yes. In addition to your solar hot water heater there is always a conventional water heater connected to the solar system. The water heating method that is currently being used will become an extension of your renewable energy system. That means that even in extended periods of bad weather you will always have hot water.

How hot can water heated by solar thermal panels get?

Water heated by the sun with solar panels can reach temperatures exceeding 180°F but the normal temperature for household use is only 120°F-130°F. Do not be alarmed, there are preventative measures that are taken to ensure the water is released at a safe temperature. A conventional water heater and a solar water heater require the same preparations to control the degree of the water for household use.


Do solar systems work in the winter months?

Yes. There is still ample solar radiation (sun energy) to provide significant performance. Although it is true that performance of the collectors will be reduced compared to a clear sunny summer day when the earth is closest to the sun.


Will heating my household water with sun energy affect how much hot water I will have?

Yes and No. Your alternative energy system will provide you with much more hot water than ever before. When a system is sized appropriately for your family you will no longer need to wait for your water heater to “recharge” between showers.


After I have installed a solar thermal heating system are there other ways to maximize my savings?

Yes. You should use the most hot water when the sun is at its peak and your system is operating at its highest efficiency during late morning and early afternoon hours.

How big should my domestic hot water system be?

Our trained professionals will easily determine the size of the system your family would require to provide 100% of your household hot water needs in the summer months; when the greatest solar gain is achievable. During the winter months or on a cloudy overcast day your alternative energy system will still use any available sunshine to meet a portion of your hot water needs.


What is the cost for a home solar water heating system?

The cost for a residentail system varies depending on many factors. The size of the system (panels and solar water tank), the length of the pipe run, how the system would be retofitted into the home. An evaluation of the home would be needed before a quote could be given. 


Must solar collectors be on the roof?

No. Most panels are but they don’t have to be, any sun-lit area will do. In fact, panels (solar collectors) on the ground may gain some efficiency from the sun's energy radiated from the surrounding terrain.

Do renewable energy systems qualify for tax incentives?

Yes. Federal and state (Massachusetts Solar Tax Credits & Rhode Island Solar Tax Credits) are available.  We have added a printable Residentail Energy Credit IRS Form # 5695 for your convienence.


How much money will I save using alternative energy?

It depends upon the size of the system, the needs of your family and what you currently use to heat your water. On average you should see a 50-80% decrease off of your utility bill because your hot water needs are being supplied by sun energy. Typically each person uses 15-25 gallons of hot water a day. Over the last 25 years through trial and error modern solar systems are not only efficient and cost effective but are extremely reliable.

When should I expect to see a payback for my investment of renewable energy?

There are many different variables to be considered; family size/hot water usage, size of the system and what was previously used to heat your water. When Solar Connection evaluates a home for a domestic hot water solar system all of these factors are added into the equation along with the cost of the system, for an expected payback return. After the payback return period, savings continue for the lifetime of your system. Why rent your energy, when you can own it.


Will a domestic hot water system add value to my home?

Yes. A renewable energy system will add non-taxable value to your home.


How does a solar hot water system help the environment?

Using alternative energy instead of the conventional methods that we are accustomed to not only help preserve the earth's fossil fuels but decreases our footprint by minimizing carbon emissions polluting the atmosphere, which is having a tremendous effect on global warming.


What is the REFER A FRIEND FINDER'S FEE offer? 

When a Solar Connection customer refers a new solar system installation for a household water heating or swimming pool water heating, we will give that customer a $100.00 finder's fee. We know that the homeowners benefitting from their renewable energy systems are the best people to spread the word about alternative energy; as they have experience and consistently save money.


What is an orphan solar system?

Many homeowners have purchased homes with existing solar systems; in some instances the homeowner is unaware. It is not uncommon that the system has been turned off. Without instructions the new homeowner cannot operate the system and utilize the free clean energy. In other situations the system was purchased earlier and now in need of some maintenance, usually minor. A lot of alternative energy companies have moved or gone out of business, the homeowner may not know who to contact for instructions or service. We refer to these systems as orphan systems.

Contact us for a  Solar Energy Evaluation by our trained professionals.