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California article

jumper Member Posts: 2,331
edited May 2016 in Solar
Nearly 40 years after California began offering inducements to people to heat their shower water using the sun, Brad Heavner of the California Solar Energy Industries Association still has to remind them the technology even exists. Read more.


The price is a big hurdle. Looks like the cost is $4500 - $5000 and the gas savings is $5-12. Even if the gas price doubles, it would still take way too long to make your money back. Can the system be simplified to only use 1 standard 40-50 gallon tank (instead of the extra 80-gallon tank next to my existing water heater)? When I replace my old rusty water heater, it would be natural to just upgrade to this if the cost/benefits work out. Very few people have room in their garage or house for an extra 80-gallon tank.

Ingrid Lobet Mike • 18 days ago 
Mike and Mike, Thank you for the comment. I realize I should have been clearer in the writing. Wilder says his bill dropped down to $5-$12. That is the range of the total monthly bill he pays in the summer.

Thanks for the clarification Ingrid. Without knowing Wilder's original gas costs, it'll be hard to understand how much the savings are. I just checked my bills. In the summer months, I averaged about $11 per month. If my family size doubles, then maybe my gas bill will double to $22 per month. Assuming a $4500 solar water heating system can save me my entire $22 gas bill, it would still take 17 years to break even. The cost/benefit just doesn't add up. I'm all for conservation, but this industry is not having a hard time because people in this state are not green enough. With the sudden glut of domestic shale gas, the cost of gas is just too low for anything else to compete. Combine that with the convenience of already existing gas-distribution infrastructure, there are very few options that can compete with regular ol' natural gas. If the industry can make the systems simpler and cheaper, then it would eventually have a good chance to compete with gas, but right now, it's too difficult.

California Defender • 18 days ago 
Manufacturers and installers must come down on the price, or this green technology will never be utilized.
A $7,500 system saving $8/mo in gas will take 78 years to pay for itself.
As of right now, this is just a rich man's toy.

 Mike Murphy California Defender • 18 days ago 
we put in on on our own some years back, under $400

Mike Murphy • 18 days ago 
seems the water here corrodes away any savings in the long run


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,467
    With super low, heavily subsidized energy, it is hard to make it pencil out.

    With some large, consistent, dhw commercial applications it can have some value.

    One large water park had a perfect example. They use hot water 24/7 between indoor& outdoor pools, hotel rooms, food service, laundry, etc. Low DHW operating temperature drive the collector efficiency way up, much more efficient than a PV conversion.

    Once they leveraged state, federal, utility rebates for much of the cost the numbers got better. Then they asked guest to donate to the "greening" of the property. Along the lines of Pet Smart where they ask for a shelter donation. Rumor has it this 100 collector array will cash flow in 5 years? with a life expectancy of 20- 30 years.

    Tom Lane wrote Lessons Learned 1977 to Today SHWS. Great read,

    He explains "reducing or sometimes eliminating DHW bills actually puts money in your pocket" It is a better return than money in a savings and each dollar saved is equal to $1.38- 1.78 in taxable income.

    The attempts at low ball "garden hose" collectors and systems, installed by minimum wage trades has caused a huge legal battle in the Phoenix area after a local utility tried to blanket the area with bargain priced systems. That really sets back the entire SDHW industry. You need to be very carefully where you try and trim costs out of these systems, the need to be a 20 or more system.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited May 2016
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,331
    Solar heating may be economic for large facilities with concentrating collectors for high temperature production and where energy is extra expensive.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Frito-Lay is doing just this in AZ and CA.