Solar hot water question

jxbrownMay 9, 2012

We are buying a house that is in rather bad condition. There are some plumbing issues that need to be corrected immediately with a master bathroom remodel. As part of the replumbing we would like to replace the elderly hot water heater. The house has a large, steeply sloped, south-facing roof on which I would like to eventually install a solar water heater. Is it possible to install a solar-compatible water heater separately during the initial part of the remodel? Are there any brands to consider first? We are located in coastal southern California where "cold weather" is anything below 60 degrees F.

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Are you planning on installing the heat exchangers and pump etc, yourself? My guess is that the tank will be half your cost.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Very, very wise move.
As you've probably read, an average family of 4 (who's average!!?) highest electrical use is heating water.

I have one and I wouldn't change it for the world. I don't use much hot water, but it's heated free. Oh - and my back-up in case I have no sun or it's very cold in the winter, my energy efficient, regular water heater kicks in. It's set pretty high, so that's very seldom.

I'm in MD and can't speak to CA vendors, but well worth it!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:46PM
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There are myriad ways to make hot water from the sun's energy. I believe that most solar HW tanks are larger and better insulated than conventional tanks. That would be no real problem. I think that these tanks have limited heating capacity compared to those that are not designed for solar. That would mean that recovery time might be much longer.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 6:40PM
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This house needs a lot of work and I want to make it livable first. That requires some major plumbing repairs including running new supply lines from the hot water heater to the master bath (fortunately they are only separated by a wall) and while I'm at it, the HW heater appears to be very old. However, to get plumbing to the roof, I need to go through the 2nd bathroom above the garage which while in need of a remodel is not critical so I would like to leave that for a second phase.

The back of the house faces south and has a big, roof surface that would be ideal for solar. Since we are in southern California, it's would be a shame not to take advantage of it.

I'll be hiring contractors to do the work.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 10:05AM
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