When people talk about creating a solar panel home and installing hot water solar panels, there tends to be a number of myths or misconceptions that fog the issues. It reminds me of when I was a lad; I was always puzzled by signs outside farms that said,”Free Range Eggs”. I never understood why we couldn’t stop and help ourselves, after all, the sign clearly said “free”. It took me many years to make the connection between “free” and “range”. It is the same when we talk about “free solar energy”. It may be free, but you have to spend a lot of money if you want to catch it!
Here are a few of the myths regarding hot water solar panels:
Myth 1 – They Never Pay for Themselves. When we look at the economics and how much hot water solar systems cost, it is a common misconception that solar energy is only for the rich, or members of Tree Huggers Anonymous. This is phooey. A typical hot water solar panels system should cost around $2500 to $4,000, if installed by professional contractors. Savings will vary according to where you live and where the panels are positioned, but an average saving of 60% is a fair estimate.
According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2009, the average annual energy bill in the US for a single family home is approx $2,200 and of this amount, around 14% ($300) is spent on water heating. This gives an average saving on heating hot water of approximately $180 a year. If energy prices rise in line with inflation, you would pay for your system in 20 years or less. Of course, if energy prices outstrip inflation, your hot water solar panels will be paid off a lot more quickly.
Note 1. The costs quoted are for installations undertaken by professional contractors. If you take the DIY route, the total costs will be considerably cheaper, but with the same benefits.
Myth 2 – They are Trouble to Maintain. This statement could not be further from the truth. Moving parts are limited to a small electric pump, so there is very little to go wrong. Solar energy is extremely low maintenance and proven to be very reliable.
Myth 3 – You Need a Hot Climate. Sure, if you have a hot climate, thermal solar panels will work that much better and you could be looking at much higher savings than 60%. But solar systems will work effectively in temperate climates. Studies carried out in the UK on behalf of the Building Research Establishment in 2007 show hot water solar panels providing heat in every month of the year, and I can assure you the UK winters have a tendency to be cold, damp and overcast!
Myth 4 – Hot Water Solar Panels do Nothing for the Environment. Well, it depends what you mean by nothing. Referring again to the research carried out for the Building Research Establishment, savings of 57% equate to reducing CO2 emissions by 360kg per year for gas heating or 620kg for electric heating. Looking at a 20 year period, that adds up to 7,200kg for gas and 12,400kg for electric. I think that is a significant reduction and definitely not nothing!
I hope this has helped dispel some of the myths that may have prevented you from having your own solar panel house and installing hot water solar panels.