Posted by Norman Fong, May 13th, 2013
Solar water heaters are placed on roofs and absorb the sun’s energy to heat water, which is then stored in a water tank for later use. Some include a gas heating system for backup.
I took the picture shown above in southern China. Solar water heaters are ALL over the place there. They must be cheap and cost effective for such widespread adoption.
Solar Water Heater Requirements
Many of these are similar to Solar Electric site requirements.
- Un tree shaded area that is Southerly facing
- Amount of sun received in a day
- Temperatures that are not below freezing
- Enough roof space and angle.
California Solar Water Heater Rebates
California utility regulators have recently approved rebates of $350 million over the next 8 years to encourage the use of solar water heaters. California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program is the solar rebate program for California consumer that offers incentive rebates of up to $1,875 for solar water heating systems installed on single-family homes. Rebates are granted in the form of a one-time payment that is based on how much annual energy the system is expected to displace.
Water Heated by the sun.com is a website setup by California utilities to promote this product.
The 30% Federal Tax credit for EnergyStar rated solar water heaters could reduce the cost of these expensive solar water heater by 15% to 25%. The Federal Tax Credit expires December 31, 2016. Average systems cost from $6500 to $10,000 before rebates. Rebates are retroactive to August 2009, so apply if you already had a system put in. Many other states have similar rebates.
Multifamily and commercial buildings are also eligible for special rebates up to $500,000. The goal is to add solar water heating to reduce natural gas use by about 200,000 single-family homes.
Local utility companies administer the rebate, so check with your local utility company. PGE has a page outlining the program that also covers San Diego Gas and Electric Rebates (SDG&E), Southern California Edison Rebates (SCE) or Southern California Gas (SoCalGas). These rebates are in addition to the Federal Tax Credit for solar water heaters.
The payback of a Solar Water Heater occur over a long period. Water heating bills should drop 50%–80%, making payback times at least 10 years after rebates. Systems should last for 25+ years allowing for a $8000 to $12000 savings over the 30 year life of the solar water heater. Gas rates many rise in the future, helping to shorten payback times. SEIA.org has a dealer locator for solar water heater installers.