Your geyser makes up a large percentage of your home’s power needs. The elements in the geyser that heat up the water are tantamount to a large kettle. They are submerged in water and use lots of electricity to warm that water up. Many people opt for solar water heaters as a way to save on their electricity bill. It’s certainly cheaper than getting a full scale solar power system, but of course the overall savings are smaller too.
So what’s better: a solar water heater, or a full solar power setup? Additionally, how does a solar water heater work and how many solar panels will you need to run one? These and other questions will be answered here.
What exactly is a solar water heater?
Solar water heaters are the answer to environmentally taxing and expensive methods of conventional water heating. Geysers use electric elements to warm up a building’s water. A solar water heater uses photovoltaic panels to do the same thing.
Solar water heaters work on the same principle as solar power systems in that they convert the sun’s energy into electricity. That electricity then heats up the water which then rises to a tank from where that hot water can be sourced.
Solar water heater versus PV system
So you may be wondering which is better: a single solar water heater, or a complete solar power system. Both are a great way to reduce your home’s carbon footprint, and both will give you a return on investment in the long run. A solar power system will simply do so on a smaller scale.
It goes without saying that you cannot go completely off the grid with a solar water heater. All this will do is replace your geyser, which makes up a large amount of your monthly electricity bill. But it’s a good start if you aren’t able to afford a complete PV system right away.
How does a solar water heater function?
Solar water heaters are typically installed on the roof of your home. From there, the sun penetrates the photovoltaic panels and converts this energy into electricity.
The most inventive type of solar water heater is one that runs on a natural convection principle. This simply means that there is no pump required to move the water from the pipes to the tank. Since hot water rises, the water will automatically rise to the tank when it’s heated up. The hotter the water, the higher it goes. This hot water is then accessible to you from the top of the tank.
There are water heaters that work with pumps too. This is called an active system. The water is pumped electrically—but the electricity used to do so is derived from the solar energy anyway. Active system solar water heaters are mostly used for businesses and factories that require high volumes of hot water.
What components make up a solar water heater?
A big advantage of getting a solar water heater rather than a full solar power system is the amount of panels needed. Only about two to four solar panels are necessary to run a solar water heater. Not only will it cost you a lot less, but installation will be a lot easier and cheaper too. This system will also take up a lot less space than a full system.
A solar water heater consists of:
- PV panels
- An inverter
- Smaller pipes where water is initially heated
- A water tank where hot water is stored.
All these work together using the sun to deliver you with hot water.
A look at solar water heater savings
Obviously the savings derived from a solar water heater are not as high as the savings derived from a full solar system. However, it’s quite likely that your electricity bill will be cut in half if you get a solar water heater. That’s because generating hot water uses so much electricity.
Convenience is another factor to consider. Do you live in a household that switches the geyser off during certain times of the day? That will no longer be necessary with a solar water heater. You and your family can enjoy hot water all day and all year round—and it won’t cost you anything.
So if a full solar power system is out of your budget, take that first step and get a solar water heater installed. It will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of your entire household by negating the use of fossil fuels to power your geyser.