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Why? Israel vs USA: solar hot water systems

nejpski | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

In a conversation with a tenant earlier today….

The tenant (a PHD Cello student) had visited Israel last summer. When Green Building came up, he commented that ALL houses in Israel have Solar Hot Water Tanks installed. Ok, I will presume he is off by 50%, still 50% vs … many in the USA…..less than 00.1% as a guess. [And I doubt he toured many rural areas vs metropolitan.]

So my question is, what are we doing wrong…or what are they doing right. Yes, I realize the climate is different. Is it the laws, the need, the desire, or is is technical!

Regards from Lincoln NE USA

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  1. PAUL KUENN | | #1

    Nice thought John!

    We have a much colder climate (especially here in WI. They do have over 80% usage of solar but it is very simple batch heaters that work in warm sunny climates. Even Nepal has a higher percent of solar hot water than we do in the US and they Don't get the sun we do, but again, it's warmer and they don't need glycol and have less plumbing rules to follow. It's all about cost and not paying for disgusting fossil fuels. In their case, they won't buy fossil fuels from surrounding Arab countries. An easy decision for them and it saves them millions of dollars. They tried hard to support electric cars with A Better Place but that has gone the way of many solar panel companies with not enough funding support and high production costs.

    Our house is heated 75-80% (depending on winter weather) by solar with two tanks devoted to floor heating and one for DHW (showers, etc...). I did most of the work so the price was manageable. Most working class like me can't afford it. I also did a deep retrofit on our house for efficiency so nothing is wasted. Again, I did 90% of the work. $3000 vs $20,000. A very fast payback and with the added solar electric, our utilities don't get any of my hard earned cash! Basically free living when I retire in a few years.

    Keep thinking solar!

  2. slowman | | #2

    Every one in israel has a water warming solar system, the installation takes a few hours and the whole thing costs around 1000 US$. the question is how to make it less of an eye-sore and not if to have one at all. the life span of the system is between 5 and 15 years, when the high content of limestone in the water will destroy the pipes or the tank. but in almost all cases it will pay for itself in unser half the time because of high electricity rates. in fact, it is so common, that an appartment without one will be very hard to rent! statisticaly, over 90% of all houses in Israel have one, and about 10% have two or more. heating the house on solar is annother matter, the cost is much higher, there are very few companies that know how to install such a system here, and most of those are now solar panel based and not water based. one more thing - in Israel, over 85% of houses and appartments are privately owned, not rented or leased. maybe thats a factor too.

    hope this helps,

    Ori from Israel

  3. jinmtvt | | #3

    Even though you built great walls of Isreal,
    you will still all get zombified!!!

    ( just watch World War Z a few moments ago :p )

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    To summarize: Israel has high energy prices, lots of sunshine, and a climate that allows the installation of solar thermal systems without freeze protection.

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