Water heaters are generally classified as either storage or tankless. Storage heaters feature an inbuilt reservoir for holding the hot water while tankless, also called demand-type/ instantaneous water heaters have no reservoir for storing water. Apart from their functional design attributes, water heating systems can also be classified according to their heating technologies, like the heat pump model, which employs a reverse refrigeration process to suck energy for water heating from the surrounding environment. Water heaters can also be categorized according to the source of their heating energy or by the fuel type that they use. The most common energy sources are electricity, natural gas, propane, and fuel oil. But we now have the new solar water heater, which converts heat energy from the sun into electricity for heating cold water. Solar water heaters usually come with a water storage tank or reservoir and a solar energy collector. The solar collector traps the sun’s heat energy and converts it into electricity, which is then used to heat the water in the reservoir. Compared to traditionally fueled water heaters, solar models have the following pros and cons.
Advantages Of Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters are ranked as the most energy efficient models in the industry. This is due to the fact that solar energy comes from the sun, which is a renewable and inexhaustible energy source powering the earth for free forever. And as any professional Arlington plumber will tell you, solar is a clean cost-free energy source, which means that it is totally eco-friendly and 100% sustainable. Compared to electrical and gas powered water heaters, solar models report energy efficiency levels of more than 50%.
This means that the inherent energy savings will undoubtedly offset the high initial costs of buying and installing solar in the long-term, making solar water heaters the cheapest models eventually.
Another important benefit of using solar water heaters is that they are very versatile in terms of installation or deployment. Compared to electric and natural gas models, which are only suitable for areas that are covered by utility power companies, solar heaters can be deployed anywhere. This is simply because sunlight beams across the entire planet.
Disadvantages Of Solar Water Heaters
Domestic and commercial adoption of solar for water heating purposes is largely undermined by the relatively high cost of acquisition and installation. A typical solar water heater costs more than an ordinary electric or gas powered model. This is due to the cumulative costs of the storage tank and the solar collectors.
This is the main disadvantage of solar water heaters; they are considered expensive to buy and install. The good news is that recent advancements in solar technology and numerous government incentives and subsidies for solar products have caused the price of solar water heaters to plummet in the last few years. Additionally solar water heaters have significantly lower operating and maintenance costs than the other fuel types because solar is free. This translates into lower utility bills and lower operating costs, which makes solar water heaters one of the cheapest models in the long run.
Another limitation of solar water heaters is that they are usually incapable of furnishing all hot water needs, especially in cloudy/cold weather conditions and during peak consumption times. In such cases, a backup fuel type will come in handy.