Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do Not Install Solar Hot Water

While I love the idea of getting free hot water from the sun, in practice, it leaves a lot to be desired. My system was installed almost two years ago and is already facing major problems. The glass on the collectors has clouded over with some sort of white film on the underside of the glass. Here are the pictures I sent to SOLARHOT, the manufacturer.

They have offered to honor their warranty. All I have to do is get the 4' x 10' collectors off my roof and to their facility in North Carolina for an inspection, where they will repair, replace, or charge me to fix depending on the outcome of their investigation, then I can transport the panels back to my home and reinstall them on my roof. I'm estimating it will cost several thousand dollars to remove the panels, ship them to NC, and then reinstall when they are done.

They did say it would probably be better if I removed the glass and cleaned it with KABOOM. Which looks all well and good when the panels are flat on the ground, but not on a pitched roof.

Bottom line: DO NOT purchase a solar water heating system. If you want to save money on your heating costs, buy a hybrid heat pump water heater like the ones by Rheem and GE. These cost around $1500 and install like a regular hot water heater which means your plumber can do it for a couple hundred bucks. My SOLARHOT equipment costs were over $3800 plus another $3k or $4k for install. A hybrid hot water heater would have been about a quarter of the cost, would have saved me about the same in electricity, and would have provided maintenance free hot water.

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