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How Much Does a Solar Water Heater Cost?

Solar Water Heater Prices

How does a solar water heater work?

A solar water heater, as an addition to your current water heating system, can save you thousands of dollars over the years. In addition, it will extend the life of your current water heater. Let's not forget that solar energy is a renewable resource. Any time you can put solar energy to work you are helping preserve the planet.

There are two kinds of solar water heaters - active solar water heaters and passive solar water heaters. The two types are covered below:

Active Solar Water Heaters

An active solar water heater system is a series of copper tubing running from your water heater tank, or a separate tank (in the case of a two-tank system), to a solar panel on the roof. The tank circulates the water up to the solar panel and it passes through the solar panel in which the water gets heated and transfers back to the water heater or a separate tank.

Passive Solar Water Heaters

A passive solar water heater system employs a water tank on the roof to do its job. It uses sunlight to circulate the hot water through the system without a series of solar panels. They are the system of choice due to their ease of installation and their durability. The only drawback to this system is that the passive tank on the roof must be in close proximity to the storage tank that circulates the water.

There are two different types of passive systems, Thermosyphon solar water heaters and Integral collector storage systems, or ICS systems. If you live in a climate where there is a cold winter or large temperature changes, a thermosyphon system is what you want. The insulated tank will suppress cold air changes in the water. ICS systems are designed for mild climates.

Solar Water Heater Prices

Recent advances in technology have made solar water heaters both cheaper and more efficient, with new advances coming every day. There are many variables that will affect the cost of installing such a system. These variables include location, climate, type of system, type of roof, and the size of tank.

Active Solar Water Heater Prices

A typical household uses approximately 20 to 25 gallons of water per person. Assuming we're using the example of an average 4-person household, a system that can heat 100 gallons of water a month will cost around $8,000 to $10,000, installed. If your water consumption is higher than average and, therefore, you are in need of a larger tank and multiple solar panels, you may spend as much as $12,000 to $15,000 for a system that meets your needs.

Passive Solar Water Heater Prices

A passive solar water heater system is typically cheaper than an active system, both in the materials cost and in the installation. No solar collectors are necessary and piping required for installation costs less. Assuming the same 4-person average household in the active scenario, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 for a passive solar water heater system. There is not much cost difference between the two types of passive systems (ICS and Thermosyphon solar water heaters).

Tax discount for Solar Heaters

There are federal tax refunds available for homes that use renewable energy for heat. There may also be state refunds available for you, depending on where you live.

Energy Star Tax Credits for Solar Heat

Solar water heater systems have a high front-end cost, but since you don't pay for the energy used to heat your water, the system will eventually pay for itself. Not to mention, it will reduce strain on your traditional water heater, allowing it to last longer than normal.

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