When it comes to heating water for homes and small businesses, the practice of utilizing solar thermal collectors is falling out of vogue. Several factors have lead to a shift in the market for photovoltaic applications, making it optimal for buildings to abandon solar thermal collectors in favor of power electric water heaters with PV, according to Green Building Advisor. Coupling high-end, energy efficient tankless water heaters with latest solar installations is a smart way for families and small business owners to cut costs.
PV works well with efficient water heaters
High-end tankless water heaters are 99 percent energy efficient, meaning that they convert nearly all the energy collected by a photovoltaic cell into usable hot water. This efficiency is key for helping PV-powered tankless water heaters to meet peak demand. Utilizing these appliances in conjunction with solar energy technology also neutralizes the potential for stand-by energy loss common in reservoir tank models, reported Building Green. The strategy is also very scalable – cheaper photovoltaic cells and temperature-booster sized tankless water heaters could easily be deployed together to help a building or home compensate for a small increase in energy demand.
Storage creates waste
Green Building Advisor pointed out that a fundamental design issue creates potential waste for buildings using solar thermal collectors to heat water. Solar collectors commonly heated an insufficient amount of water to meet the needs of a families. As a result, customers were forced find budget and physical space for an additional 4' by 8' solar collectors needed for the extra demand. This issue mimics efficiency problems in traditional reservoir water heaters. In both cases the building is forced to swallow extra energy costs to maintain comfortable water temperatures across the building.
Added complexity and maintenance
There are also several upkeep differences between solar collectors and PV systems coupled with tankless water heaters to consider. Solar thermal systems are typically more complex, utilizing multiple valves and pumps to collect solar energy and convert it into hot water. PV systems are far less complicated, sparing building owners the hassle of installing a solar energy system that requires extensive ongoing maintenance to function at full capacity. Home and building owners investing in photovoltaic technology will see their solar applications last longer as well, a perfect fit for tankless water heaters that boast lifespan as long as twenty years.