A solar water heater can bring down the average household’s second largest utility expense. Water heating with a gas-fired heater accounts for about 18 percent of annual energy costs. Using the energy of the sun, however, water heating costs can be reduced by up to 80 percent, depending upon your location. In addition, installation of a solar water heater qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit on the cost of purchasing and installing the system. With 221 days of full sunshine a year, Wichita homeowners are well-positioned to take advantage of this free, renewable energy source.

Solar water heaters are available with active or passive technologies. Active systems incorporate a circulating pump while passive systems utilize siphoning. Active solar water heating systems are more expensive but also the most efficient option. There are two types:

  • Direct circulation solar water heaters pump water through the collectors and directly into the house. In climates where temperatures are normally above freezing, direct circulation works well.
  • Indirect circulation heaters convey a heat-transfer fluid through the collectors. This non-freezing substance absorbs heat very efficiently and is pumped to a heat exchanger in a tank where it warms the water that is utilized in the home.

A passive solar water heating system costs less and, because it uses no moving parts, is generally more reliable than an active system. Integral collector-storage (ICS) systems incorporate the storage tank into the solar collector on the roof. The water then passes to a conventional backup water heater for additional heating before use in the house. A thermosyphon system mounts a horizontal tank above the collector on the roof and siphons hot water from the collector into the tank as it is used.

The ideal location for a solar water heating system is a home with an unshaded roof that receives full sunlight year round between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and faces within 15 degrees of due south.

For the latest in home energy-saving technologies, Wichita homeowners turn to Comfort Systems. Call us for more advice on installing a solar water heater at your home.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about solar water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.