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Solar Water Heating

Solar Water Heating is an excellent, low cost solution for offsetting energy usage in the home. A typical system provides 85% – 90% of the hot water needs, which is important considering that it’s not unusual for water heating to be responsible for 25% of a home’s energy usage.  

The sun supplies us with a free, endless resource for energy; solar water heating is the most cost-effective way to tap into that resource. This is only one reason many people choose this type of system as their first investment in renewable energies.

We offer a choice of closed loop glycol or drain-back solar water heating systems.  Both typically consist of one – 4’ x 10’ or two – 4’ x 8’ solar collector(s) mounted flush to the roof, a single 80 or 120 gallon solar water heater (depending on the collector area) with an electric heating element to ensure a consistent supply of hot water regardless of weather conditions, a pump station, and (in the case of the drain-back systems) a drain-back tank & controller. 

 

solar tubingWe use high quality, pre-insulated, flexible stainless steel tubing (the same tubing used for gas line) between the water heater and collectors.  All pipe insulation is UV-stable for long like in the sun.  No one is running copper piping, soldering connections, and hand-insulating piping through your attic in our installations.  In fact, except for very long runs, there are usually no connections at all in the attic or other areas inside the house.  Mechanical flare fittings are used to connect the piping at the collectors and the water heater.

 

 

solar roof flashingWhen we see other solar collector installations out in the field, the black aluminum mount you can see in the inset in this image is mounted directly on the shingle, without any flashing.  In fact, our supplier intends for us to mount them that way.  We would not think of doing such a thing and neither would your roofer!  We work with licensed roofers on our installations and have them properly flash the penetrations with these custom made stainless steel flashings.  Our mounting hardware is all stainless steel and mounted straight to the rafters under the roof, so there is no chance of collectors damaging the roof or blowing off in hurricanes.  For standing seam metal roofs, we mount the collectors with specially designed "S-5" clips for a penetration-free mounting system.  For metal roofs, we also use a 50 year. EPDM flashing for the pipes. 

 

A few of the benefits of Solar Water Heating:

 

  • Systems have long life expectancies and require little or no maintenance from year to year.

  • N.C... and Federal tax incentives reduce the price of a typical residential system roughly in half.

  • New construction represents a cash-positive transaction of about $3,400.00 from day one. 

  • Existing construction represents about a 10% return on investment. 

  • You have fixed your water heating costs as the cost of energy continues to rise.

  • Offsets almost two tons of CO2 emissions yearly for a typical household (family of four), as well as other greenhouse gasses.

 

Solar Water Heating FAQs:

 

Q.    How Does a Solar Water Heater work?

Solar water heating uses a panel or multiple panels mounted on your roof to collect heat energy. As fluid passes through these panels the heat energy is transferred into the fluid, which in turn is transferred into your water heater. The solar loop is circulated using either an AC pump, or even better, a DC pump powered by a small PV panel.

Q.    Do I need to change my water usage?

Not at all. A standard electric water heating element is integrated into the solar water heating tank. During extended cloudy days or when friends or family are visiting and water usage is unusually high, the electric element makes up the difference.

Q.    How much will it cost me? And are there any financial incentives?

The cost of a typical system is around $10,000.  North Carolina has a 35% tax credit with a maximum of $1,400, and the Federal tax credit is 30% with no maximum limit.  So on a $10,000 system the final cost after tax credits is about $5,600, nearly a 50% savings!  These credits can be carried forward for up to five years.  

Q. How much can I save?

Especially in today’s more efficient houses, water heating can account for up to a third of a typical family’s energy usage. It is common for our systems to provide 85-90% of a typical household’s needs. This typically translates to $300 - $500 a year depending on the size of the house and number of occupants.

Q How long does the installation take?

Depending on the difficulty, installation time is 2-3 days. However, the hot water is only off for a few hours.

Q. What about high winds?

The panels are usually mounted very close to the roof, preventing high winds from getting underneath them. They are attached through the roof deck to the attic rafters using very heavy duty lag screws, providing an extremely strong bond between panel and roof. Realistically speaking, the panels will not be coming off unless your roof does.

Q. Do I need to worry about roof leaks?

We use high quality copper and stainless steel flashing for all penetrations which are correctly integrated into shingle roofing systems, and the highest quality 50 year. EPDM rubber flashing available for metal roofs.  They are typically the highest quality flashing materials we see on the roof at our installations.