Products - solar water
- What is a VELUX solar water heater?
- A VELUX solar water heater uses the sun’s energy as a source of heat to produce hot water for domestic household use. A solar water heater can typically generate from 50% to 80% of a household’s annual hot water heating needs using “free” energy from the sun. The remaining hot water needs are supplied using a backup energy source – electric elements, natural gas burner, propane burner, or auxiliary water heater or boiler. Unlike other solar water heating systems, VELUX solar water heating systems are complete packaged systems that include all of the components necessary for years of trouble free operation – no matter where they are installed in the U.S.
- Are there different kinds of solar water heaters?
- Yes. Solar water heating systems are divided into two kinds of systems: active or passive. Active solar systems rely upon moving mechanical parts in order to transport heat, while passive systems simply use the sun to accomplish this action. The bulk of systems installed in the United States are active because they are considered to be more efficient and attractive. All VELUX solar water heating systems are active systems.
- How do active solar systems work?
- VELUX solar systems have two major components: VELUX rooftop collectors and a storage tank with internal solar heat exchanger and backup heat source. A VELUX solar collector is made up of copper tubes and a copper plate that is covered with a highly selective absorber coating; this assembly is enclosed in a well-insulated aluminum frame and covered with low-iron tempered glass glazing. A propylene glycol solution within the copper tubes is heated in the collectors and circulated through the solar heat exchanger located in the bottom of the solar storage tank. The household water contained within the storage tank is heated by the solution as it is circulated through the heat exchanger. This process is controlled by a digital system controller that operates a circulation pump and provides optimal solar water heater system operation.
During periods when limited solar energy is available (cloudy days and winter months) the integral backup heat source will be activated to maintain an adequate supply of hot water to the household.
- How much does a VELUX solar water heater cost?
- The system installation cost can vary depending upon the following:
• Size of the family to be served
• Geographic location within the U.S.
• Type of roof in which the panels are mounted
• Roof pitch and site conditions of home
• Distance from solar collectors to solar storage tank
• Type of backup heat source required
• Building code and permitting requirements
Overall system installation costs may be reduced considerably depending on geography. The federal government currently offers a solar rebate of 30% of the system installation cost and many state and local rebates and incentives may also apply.
* Please contact a VELUX 5-Star Specialist near you for detailed pricing information.
* Visit www.dsireusa.org for rebates and incentives near you.
- How much do the homeowners save?
- How much homeowners will save depends upon the size of the system, site conditions (shading, roof pitch, and orientation) and the hot water usage patterns of the family. Typically, water heating energy savings will be between 50% and 80% compared to a traditional tank type water heating system. For the typical household, this represents an annual savings of 10% - 15% off of the total household energy costs.
- How long does it take for a solar water heater to pay for itself?
- Payback for solar water heating systems is highly dependent on local energy costs and incentives and should be looked at on a case by case basis. In general though, for areas with both federal and state rebates and incentives, payback averages anywhere from three to seven years; in other areas payback could be up to 10 years or more.
However, if the solar water heating system is included in the construction of a new home, the homeowners can save more on their monthly energy bills than the increase in their house payment – the solar system provides a positive cash flow from the day they move in, effectively giving them an immediate payback.
- How can homeowners finance a solar water heating system?
- One way to finance a solar water heating system is to include it as part of the home mortgage. In long-term loans of 20 years or more, the monthly solar savings will normally be greater than the portion of the monthly mortgage payments for the solar system. In new construction, a homeowner can save more on their monthly energy bills than the increase in the house payment. It provides a positive cash flow from the day they move in.
In some states, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing may be available to cover all of the upfront costs for solar water heating systems. PACE financing effectively allows property owners to borrow money from the local government to pay for the solar system installation. The PACE program and other financing programs are being developed at state and local levels to help homeowners reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for upfront cash out of pocket.
Visit www.dsireusa.org/solar for complete details in your area.
- From a cost stand point, how competitive is solar water heating, compared to conventional water heating systems?
- It depends on several factors such as initial system cost, local fuel costs, local rebates and incentives. Although solar has a higher initial cost than most other water heating systems, it can be very competitive over the long term. The cost of operation is considerably less than traditional water heating systems – typically, you will save between 50% and 80% compared to a traditional tank type water heating system.
- Can a VELUX solar heating water system replace an existing water heater?
- Yes, in most instances. VELUX solar water heating systems have been designed to replace the most common residential water heating systems. The systems are offered in various sizes and configurations to provide the equivalent hot water capacity as that of standard 30, 50, or 75 gallon residential electric, gas, or indirect water heaters. However, the solar storage tank required to provide this equivalent capacity is larger than the typical residential water heater, 60, 75, or 115 gallons respectively. So as long as there is adequate space for the solar storage tank, and other solar components, a VELUX solar system could replace an existing water heater.
Households that require additional hot water capacity can utilize multiple VELUX solar water heating systems or can install a VELUX solar water heating system in addition to a conventional tank water heater to meet the additional hot water needs.
- Will having a VELUX solar water heating system affect how much hot water a homeowner will have?
- Yes. The VELUX solar water heating systems are designed to provide you with the same amount of hot water you have today regardless of the availability of solar energy. On cloudy days and during the winter months, when limited solar energy is available, the system will produce the same amount of hot water as the equivalent standard water heater. During the warmer months (Spring, Summer and the Fall), homeowners will have much more hot water than was available before (due to the larger solar storage tank).
- Will the homeowners have to change their bathing and cleaning routine?
- No. With VELUX solar water heating systems, there is no need to change your bathing or cleaning habits. However, to maximize savings, homeowners should attempt to use the most hot water in the late morning and early afternoon when the solar system is operating at its peak. It also helps to spread out the cleaning load (laundry, dishwashing, etc.) over the week. This will reduce the amount of time the backup heat source or auxiliary heat source must operate.
- Are VELUX solar water heating systems reliable?
- Yes, VELUX solar water heating systems are designed to perform well for more than 20 years. VELUX solar water heating systems must be installed by a VELUX authorized solar water heating dealer/installer. Normal maintenance - cleaning collectors, checking pump operation and system pressure, checking pH of propylene glycol solution, and tank flushing - is required. The latter is also recommended for conventional water heating systems, as is periodic replacement of the water heater sacrificial anode rod. Many VELUX dealer/installers will provide yearly maintenance checkups of their solar systems similar to annual air-conditioning system maintenance programs. These can be beneficial in extending the life of the system and ensuring optimum performance.
- How much space does a solar water heating system take?
- A residential solar water heating system uses one, two or three solar collectors on the roof. They are approximately 4.5’ x 6’ each. The storage tank will fit inside a 30 inch pan under an 8 foot ceiling. The collectors are best placed on a south-facing roof. The storage tank is best located near and under the collectors, but can be located up to 100 feet from the collectors.
- What quality standards exist for solar water heaters?
- To ensure high quality and satisfactory performance of solar water heating systems, the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation
(SRCC) certifies and rates the performance of solar energy equipment. SRCC is an independent, non-profit organization headquartered in Cocoa, Florida. The SRCC certification is similar to the UL certification and EnergyGuide certification that residential appliances undergo for performance and efficiency. Solar systems that carry the SRCC logo have undergone extensive tests to ensure years of operation for the consumer.
- How does the orientation and pitch of VELUX solar collectors impact the solar heat gain of a solar water heating system?
- The ideal orientation for the solar collectors is due south. The collectors can be rotated from south, up to 45° east or west with minimal loss in solar heat gain. The optimal pitch for a solar collector is at an angle measured from horizontal equal to the latitude at the installation site. The pitch may vary from 15° to 60° from horizontal with minimal impact on solar gain.
A VELUX solar collector installed at an orientation within 45° of south and at a pitch between 15° to 60° from horizontal should have a solar gain within 90% of optimal for installations within the United States.
- Can VELUX solar water heating systems be used with radiant floor heating systems?
- VELUX solar water heating systems alone, as designed and packaged, are not intended for use with radiant floor heating systems. They are intended for use as residential domestic hot water heater systems only. The use of solar water heating systems for space heating applications requires the addition of solar collectors and components, an increase in the amount of hot water storage, and further system engineering beyond what is provided with our systems.
However, VELUX solar water heating collectors and components may be used in radiant floor heating system applications only when these types of systems are designed and certified by professional engineers and/or solar system integrators. Please contact the VELUX 5-Star Specialist near you to see if they provide these additional system design services.
- Can VELUX solar water heating systems be used in commercial hot water applications?
- Yes. VELUX solar water heating systems can be used in any commercial application that would normally use a standard 30, 50, or 75 gallon residential water heater, or equivalent. In addition, VELUX solar systems can be used to preheat the cold water feeding a standard commercial water heater for use in high volume/high recovery hot water applications – multiple VELUX solar systems may be required to provide an adequate hot water flow rate and/or solar fraction.
- Can VELUX solar collectors be installed on a flat roof?
- Yes. While the VELUX roof integrated solar collectors (those having the same look as our skylights) cannot be installed in a roof with a pitch less than 15°, VELUX also has rack mounted collector systems for these applications.
- Can VELUX solar systems be used in homes that have large garden, or jetted, tubs?
- Yes. However, when sizing a VELUX solar water heating system for use with a large tub, you will have to make sure that you have adequate backup storage volume to meet the volume requirements of the tub (when a tub is filled, approximately 70% of the water used is hot water from the water heater).
When sizing for a large tub, please follow the following steps:
1) Select the VELUX system that is required for the number of occupants in the home (60, 75, or 115 gallon tank system).
2) Determine if the VELUX system selected will meet the volume requirements of the large tub. The 60 gallon systems generally have about 30 gallons of backup storage volume, which by the 70% hot water rule, will support tubs up to about 40 gallons. The 75 gallon systems generally have about 40 gallons of backup storage volume, which by the 70% hot water rule, will support tubs up to about 60 gallons. The 115 gallon systems generally have approximately 70 gallons of backup storage volume, which by the 70% hot water rule, will support tubs up to about 100 gallons.
3) If the VELUX system selected does not provide adequate backup volume for the large tub, you must add additional backup storage, in the form of an additional standard gas or electric water heater installed downstream of the VELUX solar storage tank.
For example, a 3 to 4 person home with a large 100 gallon jetted tub would be sized as follows:
1) Select a VELUX 75 gallon solar system
2) 100 gallon tub x 0.70 = 70 gallon backup storage volume required (70% rule)
- VELUX 75 gallon solar tank has 40 gallon backup storage.
3) To meet the 100 gallon tub hot water requirements, add a 30 to 40 gallon gas or electric traditional water heater downstream of the VELUX system.
- Solar system is short 30 gallons of backup storage volume.
While in this example, installing a VELUX 115 gallon system would meet the large tub volume requirements, doing so could result in an oversized solar system that may not perform optimally for the number of occupants in the home – a 115 gallon system should only be recommended if the 100 gallon tub were to be used on a daily basis.
- How efficient are VELUX solar collectors when compared to competitive models?
- The efficiency of VELUX and competitors solar collectors can be found at the SRCC website. When the efficiency of collectors is compared based upon the “net” aperture area (exposed glass area through which the sun enters the collector), VELUX collectors have a higher efficiency (81%) compared to the major competitors (70% to 79%). This means that our collectors convert the sun’s energy to hot water better than other competitors.