Learn How Solar Water Heaters Work

Ever wondered how solar water systems work? Why they are designed and installed in certain ways? Want to know the difference between passive and active systems and what they actually look like when installed?

Then join me at Solar Hot Water Design & Installation, a course I will be teaching at Palo Alto College as part of its Green Initiatives Education.  The course runs for 8 weeks, every Monday and Wednesday, from Oct. 3 through Nov. 7, from 6-9 p.m.

We will combine classroom learning and hands-on laboratory exercises to explore how the different parts of systems work together.  If you’re a plumber, home builder, architect or engineer, you might really enjoy this course.

For details and to sign up for Solar Hot Water Design and Installation, visit Palo Alto College’s information and registration page.


Calculate Potential Savings with Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heater savings calculator tool from Velux USA.

Velux America is one of my favorite suppliers.  They have just added a new tool which helps homeowners calculate the cost savings from Solar Water Heaters.  It’s simple and it’s free.

Try the Velux Solar Water Savings Calculator.  You might be surprised at your results.

Velux Solar Water Heater a Great Addition to Our Product Line

Velux Solar Water Heater panels next to a Velux Skylight
Velux Solar Water Heater Panels Next to a Velux Skylight

Several weeks ago, I attended a two-day training course for Velux solar water heaters.

“Velux makes solar water heaters?” you ask.

Not only that, but the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of flat plate collectors! We just haven’t heard much about Velux solar water heating in the USA, because Velux has been concentrating on the skylight market. The company has been producing solar water heaters for more than 20 years.

What sets the Velux product apart from other products in the marketplace?

Velux looked at other types of solar water heaters and chose to concentrate on the active pressurized product. The systems aren’t designed to link together for large scale solar water heating, but they’re perfect for the domestic and light commercial market. Velux also took their corporate knowledge from skylights, roof aesthetics and roof flashings and applied them to solar water heating. The Velux collectors look like they are part of the home’s structure. They meld into the roof and look like skylights. There are no pipes that run externally on the roof. The piping runs beneath the flashing.

One of the issues with solar water heating from other manufacturers is that when the roof needs replacement, the collectors have to be removed, put to the side while the roof is replaced and then reinstalled after the roofers have completed their job. This isn’t something that roofers can do. A solar installation pro needs to be involved for both the removal and reinstallation, and this will involve considerable expense. Velux collectors don’t have this issue. The collectors are part of the roof. Once the collectors are in place, they stay that way. The roofers can just shingle around them.

Another issue with solar water heating is Home Owner Association (HOA) approval. With Velux solar water heating, if the HOA approves skylights, there’s not much argument they can put forward in denying Velux solar water heating. The Velux collectors look just like Velux skylights.

Solar Texas is proud to add “Solar Specialist” certification for Velux Water Heaters.  Call us if you want to know more.

Solar Water Heaters are Performance Giants!

Solahart Water Heater Installation
Solahart Water Heater Roof Installation

It’s a simple concept. Instead of relying on an electric element or a gas flame to heat your household water all the time, a solar water heater has the sun do the work of heating the water and only supplements with electricity or gas when needed. People are surprised by how effective the sun can be for heating water. In Texas, about 85% of a home’s hot water needs can be derived from the sun.

Here’s how it works: in a closed loop system, heat exchange fluid is exposed to the sun via a black absorber. The heat exchange fluid then transfers its heat to the stored potable water. In most homes, 80 gallons of storage is sufficient. It’s very simple, but very effective.

Almost everyone is interested in payback on investing in solar water systems, and that, of course, varies with the type of household you have.  The first system I installed five years ago was on my own roof. Immediately after we installed it, we started saving 25% on our monthly electric bill.  In the next two years, it will have paid for itself.

A good solar water heater lasts longer than its traditionally fuelled counterparts. Hard water deposits are significantly lessened with solar heating, and a little routine maintenance about every 5 years cleans out those deposits, replaces seals and heat exchange fluid and has the system running as good as new again.

When I started this business, the only product I carried was Solahart, a company which has been manufacturing solar water heaters for over 50 years and has products in over 70 countries around the world. They have a sound reputation built on quality and value. Now there are more choices and more products.  But solar water heaters remain, in my mind, the performance giants of this industry.