What Is A Solar Water Heater System?

A solar water heater uses the heat from the sun gathered from thermal solar collectors on the roof to heat the water in a tank (or electric water heater).  The water is circulated and brings the heated water from your roof to the tank.  It is then ready for your household needs.

Need More Information About A Solar Water Heater System?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Why Should I Consider Solar Water Heater?

There is no question that we have an abundance of sun and heat in Southwest Florida.  Why pay for electricity to heat water when the sun will do it for free?  All you need is a small collector attached to your roof and a minimal amount of plumbing.

Need More Information About Solar Water Heaters?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Will I Have To Get A New Water Tank?

Fafco offers a glass rooftop collector that does require a special solar water tank that is 80 gallons to store more heated water. 

Need More Information About Working With Your Water Tank?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Is There A Smart Controller That Allows Me To Have Hot Water If It Is Cloudy Or Cold?

Once the solar water heater is installed, there is a smart controller that will turn on a heating element in your tank if needed.  Of course, the less this element is used the more the savings.  Try as we might, even Fafco Solar can’t make the sun shine all the time!

Need More Information About A Smart Controller? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Is The Solar Heated Water Be Safe To Drink?

Yes. There are two types of systems. 

  1. Polymer Solar Collector - Placed on the roof, it is a closed loop of heating water. The water from the panels is never mixed with the (drinking) water in tank. There is a heat exchanger between the heated water in the solar collector and the water in the tank.  
  2. Solar Water Heater -  Offers a glass and copper collector that circulates the potable (tap water) through the collector back to the tank and is completely safe to drink.       

Need More Information About Solar Heated Water?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Does The Water Get To The Solar Collectors On The Roof?

In both types of solar water heaters, a pump is used to circulate the water being heated to the solar collectors to and from the roof.  There is also an option of having a PV (or solar electric) panel to supply the pump with electricity.

Need More Information About Solar Collectors?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Does My Conventional Water Heater Really Use That Much Energy?

Yes. Of course the amount of energy used by a conventional water heater varies depending on the number of people using hot water in your home.  The household habits also have an impact.  The temperature that the water is kept, whether you launder with hot water, etc. make a difference.

About 30% of the average homes electric bill, without a pool, is spent on the water heater. This adds up very quickly.

Need More Information About Replacing Your Conventional Water Heater 
With A Solar Heater?
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Should I Buy A Solar Water Heater Or Tankless Water Heater?

If you’re wondering what’s best, a solar water heater or a tankless water heater, the answer may be BOTH – or NEITHER! If you have an existing gas water heater that is in good repair, you may just want to add a solar water heater with additional storage capacity. If you have an electric storage water heater, you may want to retrofit your existing tank or add additional storage with a solar tank.

There is a great article about the choice between a storage and tankless water heater on the Green Building Advisor website here. You should check out this article to learn some of the pros and cons of tankless water heaters. When the question of solar comes up, the decision becomes a bit more complicated. How much storage do you need? Do you need an endless supply of hot water? How old is your existing heater? What are your usage patterns?

The beauty of a solar water heater is that you can preheat water for a primary heating source. By providing an electric or gas element with water that is preheated, you will drastically reduce or even eliminate the energy needed to reach the final desired temperature. In Southwest Florida, our incoming water temperature is around 77°F (Source: EPA). To heat a pound of water one degree, it takes 1 BTU of energy. One pound is 8.33 gallons. So, to heat a typical 50-gallon storage tank of water to 120°F, a typical desired set point, it requires 17,910 BTU of energy. That’s about $0.60 if you are an FPL or LCEC customer in SW Florida.

If you use a solar water heater to preheat water and store it in a secondary storage tank, you significantly reduce the amount of energy required to heat water with the primary heating element. If you have modest hot water usage, the water coming into the primary tank will always be preheated to some degree. It takes the same amount of energy to heat water from 77°F – 87°F as it does 110°F to 120°F. Any heating that you do with solar energy reduces your heating costs proportionally. You will only pay a fraction of the $0.60 required to heat a 50-gallon tank if the incoming water is warmer than 77°F!

When used with a tankless instant-on gas heater, solar water heaters often provide a water temperature that is higher than the desired set point. To deal with this, a tempering valve is installed for safety to avoid scalding. It also requires that the gas element is “full modulating,” meaning that the burner can go down to zero heating when the incoming water exceeds the desired temperature. In this case, there is NO cost to heat water – the solar water heater does all of the work! This significantly changes the economics of a tankless water heater, reducing maintenance and gas costs and extending the life of the heater.

In some cases, a tankless heater makes the most sense. In others, a traditional electric tank heater is the best choice. Adding solar water heating will reduce heating costs, and to what extent depends largely on your usage quantity and patterns. In most cases it makes sense to integrate solar with another heating source, and in some circumstances, solar water heating is not advisable. If you are a very light hot water user or only spend a limited amount of time at your Southwest Florida vacation home, solar water heating may not be the most economical choice. Larger households and people who eat and do laundry at home are usually heavy hot water users and benefit tremendously from solar water heating.

Since the decision depends largely on your particular circumstance, it’s best to get a free consultation from a solar professional. Your Fafco Solar sales consultant will ask you questions and find out how you use hot water and advise you on what solar can do for you!