Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is a Solar Water Backup Water Heater?

Backup Water HeaterTank Water Heater
AKA: natural gas, propane, electric, or wood water heater

The backup water heater ensures that hot water is at the tap whether the sun shines or not. On a sunny, hot day, if the sun has preheated the water to 140°F (60°C) or more, the backup water heater uses no energy at all because the solar preheat temperature is greater than the typical 120°F (49°C) thermostat setting. On a day when the solar preheat is 85°F (29°C), the backup heater boosts the temperature the remaining 35°F (19°C). Since incoming cold-water temperatures are at ground temperature (usually about 50°F; 10°C), 85°F represents 50 percent of the energy needed to bring the water from 50°F to 120°F.

Not all backup water heaters use a tank. Keeping a tank of water warm between uses can account for 15 percent or more of the total energy expended for hot water. Tankless water heaters eliminate this standby loss. Solar hot water systems and tankless water heaters are a winning combination. If you´re in Seattle, for instance, and can reduce your water heating cost by 60 percent using solar energy, and save another 15 percent by going tankless, this results in a 75 percent total savings. The household that used to spendTankless Water Heater $300 per year to heat water now only spends $75. In sunnier climates, this number can approach zero. However, not all tankless heaters can be used as a backup heater for solar. Check with the manufacturer.

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