If you're in the market for a new water heater, you've likely heard of the relatively new solar-powered heaters. Since as much as 18 percent of the average household's energy expenses go towards heating water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, harnessing the sun's (free) power can be attractive. However, before you make a final decision on what type of water heater to purchase, it's wise to weigh the pros and cons of this type of heater.
The advantages of a solar water heater
1. Uses less energy. Since a solar water heater runs on energy harvested via solar panels, this type of water heater uses little electricity to run and no natural gas.
2. Is kind to the environment. Because a solar water heater uses fewer fossil fuels to generate hot water, this type of heater is much "greener" than a traditional water tank heater that uses natural gas or electricity to keep hot water at the ready.
3. May qualify for tax credits. If you have a solar water heater installed in your new or existing residence by the end of 2016, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the total cost of the equipment and the installation. In addition, many states and municipalities offer additional tax advantages for adding a solar water heater.
Disadvantages to a solar water heater
1. Higher initial cost. The chief disadvantage to choosing a solar water heater is the initial cost of the equipment and installation. While a new water tank can be purchased for an average cost of around $900, the average cost of a new solar water heater with installation can run as much as $17,000.
2. Less efficient in cloudy locations. Another disadvantage to opting for a solar water heater is that such a heater works best in sunny locations, such as Colorado, Florida or the southwestern states. If you live in a location where there are many more gray days than sunny ones, you'll either have to forego hot water on those blustery days or negate much of your energy savings by using a gas or electric-powered auxiliary heater.
While a solar water heater can help reduce the amount of energy your family uses each month--and thus lessen your carbon footprint--this type of heater isn't necessarily the right choice for every household. It's important to carefully consider the pluses and minuses before making your final decision.Contact a plumbing service for more information.