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Getting Started With Solar

Solar Information

DSIRE - National searchable database to find Incentives, Rebates and Federal Tax Credits.
PGE - Solar Information Database

General Explanation of Solar Water Heating

Solar water heating systems use collector (absorber) panels to harvest the sun’s energy. These collector panels are in many cases installed on the roof of your home or garage. As the sun shines on the absorber panels, water is heated in tubes within the collector panels, and then moves to a water heater or heaters, depending on the design, for storage and later use in the home. .

Solar water heating systems allow homeowners to use the solar source as their main system and their conventional water heater as back-up storage.

Optimally placed absorber panels, with conventional methods as a backup, will yield you many years of use and dramatically lower energy costs all while lowering your carbon footprint and contributing to a greener world.

Example (1) - A two tank setup using glycol (anti-freeze) as the heat transfer fluid instead of water. This system is the most energy efficient.

This system ties the solar water heater tank to your existing water heater tank, which is now used as a storage tank. It is known as an active or closed loop system. A pump is used to circulate Glycol, a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collector and a heat exchanger that is located inside the solar water tank. This heats the water that then flows into the home.

Example (2) - A system using the existing water heater as storage and as a backup for the days without adequate sun to heat the collector.

The California Energy Commission estimates that the average household spends up to 30% or more of its energy bill for hot water heating, and it accounts for more than one-quarter of the total energy used in a typical single-family home. An electric water heater is the single largest user of electricity of all household appliances.

Whether you have an electric or gas water heater, the operating cost will continue to rise over time. 
According to the California Public Utilities Commission, electricity rates have been increasing an average of 6% per year, over the past 35 years, and the wholesale price for natural gas has more than tripled in the past eight years. Natural gas shortages are likely to push rates even higher in the near future. With solar you will no longer have to be at the mercy of the utilities and their ever-rising rates. 

The California Public Utilities Commission estimates that a typical homeowner can save 60-70% on the cost of water heating by installing a solar water heating system.