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Solar hot water systems

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This is a list of the most important GBA articles on solar hot water (solar thermal) systems.

If you are looking for an index that spans all categories, with a special focus on “how to” articles, check out this resource page: “How to do Everything.”

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Solar Hot Water

    If you’re aiming to reduce your carbon footprint, you’ve probably thought about installing a solar hot water system. Here’s the good news: if you have an unshaded south-facing roof, you can install a solar hot water system that will meet about half your annual hot water needs. The bad news: the typical solar hot water system costs between $6,000 and $10,000.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Solar Hot Water System Maintenance Costs

    I installed my solar hot water system about six years ago. It’s a good system. I have two 4’x8’ AE-32 flat-plate collectors (manufactured by Alternate Energy Technologies), a Superstor Ultra stainless-steel tank (at 80 gallons, it’s a little small, but it’s what I could afford), and an El Sid DC pump from Ivan Labs. Since I installed the equipment myself, it cost significantly less than a professionally installed system.

  • Green Architects' Lounge

    Solar Thermal: Types, Cost, and Investment

    Hi, Everyone! For better or worse, Dan (Morrison) tossed us the keys to the blog, so we’re posting without a net, so to speak. Phil and I were very lucky to have a special guest for this episode: Pat Coon. Pat is co-founder of Revision Energy, and is well under way in starting a new company, Revision Heat. Pat brings to the podcast his in-depth knowledge of solar thermal design and installation, as well as his craft in home-brewing technology.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Domestic Hot Water: No Perfect Solution

    Some questions are easier to answer than others. For example, there is a fairly straightforward answer to, “How should I insulate the floor of my unconditioned attic?” — namely, “With a deep layer of cellulose.” (There’s more to say on the topic, of course — but even a full answer isn’t very complicated.) There is no easy answer, however, to, “How should I heat my domestic hot water?” Every type of water heating technology is flawed; every solution involves compromise. Many factors affect the decision about what type of water heater to choose, including:

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Solar Thermal is Dead

    In the northern half of the U.S. — and even much of the South — installing a residential solar hot water system doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to rethink traditional advice about installing a solar hot water system, because it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic (PV) array than solar thermal collectors. In short, unless you’re building a laundromat or college dorm, solar thermal is dead.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead

    Back in early 2012, in an article called “Solar Thermal Is Dead,” I announced that “it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic array than solar thermal collectors.” Now that almost three years have passed, it’s worth revisiting the topic. In the years since that article was written, the cost to install a photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped significantly. Moreover, I’ve come across monitoring data that allow for a more accurate estimate of the amount of electricity needed to heat water with electric resistance elements or a heat pump.

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