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Can My Water Heater Be Powered By The Sun?

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Water heaters need a heat source so they can heat your water to the desired temperature. Most of these heat sources cost money, such as natural gas, and produce carbon emissions. However, it's possible to install a solar-powered hot water heater that will heat water entirely using the power of the sun.

How it Works

Water that has been heated by the solar-powered hot water heater is stored in a reservoir known as a collector. In some cases, water is heated by the sun and then transported directly to the collector. This is referred to as a "direct system." In other cases, the heat is transported using a non-freezing liquid. This liquid transfers heat from the sun's rays to the collector so that the water can be stored until it's needed. This type of system is most often used in a climate where the water is likely to freeze.

Some systems rely on pumps to circulate water or non-freezing liquid. However, it is also possible to move the water using natural convection. 

Batch Collectors

Batch collectors are one of the most common types of collectors. The hot water is stored in an insulated tank. The water remains in the tank for a long time until it is needed and is very hot. However, you are able to use a tempering valve to avoid burning yourself when using hot water since you can control the temperature. 

Other Collectors

Other types of collectors include flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors. Flat plate collectors rely on an insulated box to keep the heat inside and evacuated tube collectors are surrounded by a vacuum. By being surrounded by a vacuum, very little heat is lost.

Traditional Methods

If you would prefer to install a hot water heater using a traditional method of heat generation, there are several methods available to you. For example, you could use oil, propane tanks, or natural gas. These options will generate heat within your home and heat the water stored in a tank directly. 

Another approach is to simply rely on the electrical grid of your home. Electricity is very accessible. However, you will need to make sure that you have a backup generator for if you experience a power outage or you will need to take baths and showers without hot water. Regardless of which heating source you use, what matters is that you make an informed decision when choosing your water heater.