How Does A Solar Water Heater Work


How does a solar water heater work?

Why might you need to know this information?

When is it important to understand how a solar water heater works?

If you’re thinking of installing a solar water heater for your home or you’ve already done so, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how these options work.

Understanding how solar water heaters function can make it easier for you to operate and maintain yours. In the same way, you can also take care of your heater more efficiently if something should go wrong with it along the way.

Read through the information below to educate yourself on how solar water heaters function and what they can do for you.

How Does the Solar Water Heater Work?

What are the components in a solar water heater, and what do they do?

  • Collector: This part of the heater is where the water is kept as it is heated by solar energy.
  • Tank: Once the water is warm enough, it is stored inside the tank until it’s needed.
  • Structure: This is the part of the heater that holds the collector and the tank. Some structures can be placed on the ground, while others must be mounted on the roof.
  • Solar panel or heating component: The heating component may be the collector itself in some types of water heaters. In others, it is a solar panel that is affixed to the outside of the collector element.

How does a solar water heater warm up your water?

  • The working of solar water heater elements relies on the heat of the sun. First, the sun warms the solar panel or other heating component, and then that heat is transferred to the water inside the collector.
  • From there, the water is drawn into the tank when it reaches a specific temperature. This choice is kept warm inside the tank until it is needed by the household.
  • The water exits the tank and enters your home via your household water line.

How does it store your heated water?

  • Heated water is stored inside the tank, which is part of the water heater itself. The heater uses solar energy to continually heat the water in the tank until it’s ready to be used.
  • Some types of water heaters use a heated liquid element, such as antifreeze solution, to do this instead. In these heaters, the heated liquid never comes into contact with the water, so it’s still safe to drink.
  • Some heaters may not keep the water in the tank hot for very long, while others may keep it warm for several hours or even days. This all depends on the size and type of the water heater you choose.

How much heated water can a solar heater produce?

  • A working solar water heater can provide anywhere from 80-90% of your household’s hot water needs annually.
  • Much of the heater’s output depends on the climate where you leave, the frequency with which you use your hot water, and the placement of the heater. The type and manufacturer of the heater also play a part in determining how much hot water your heater can produce.
  • Many of these heaters aren’t intended to run nonstop, so they may only be able to provide hot water during the daytime when the sun is up. This is not true of every type of solar heater, however.

Do all solar heaters have to be placed on the roof?

  • No, they don’t. Only certain types of solar water heaters require roof placement. Generally speaking, those that rely on gravity to move the water through the tubing and don’t use a pump to draw it up should be placed on the roof.
  • Many of the smaller water heaters used for both household and swimming pool heating can be placed on the ground. However, you should be sure you have enough room in your yard for this type of heater, and that it can get enough sunlight every day.

Do solar heaters work on cloudy days?

  • Most of the time! Most solar water heaters maintain enough radiant heat to keep your water warm even when it’s cloudy or cold outside. However, if you experience a long period of cloudy or cold days without much sun in between, you may notice your heater is not performing as well.
  • This is one of the reasons why many solar water heaters include a backup electric heater, just in case. If your solar heater runs out of power for heating your water, you can use the backup electric heater to manage your hot water needs instead.

Can solar water heaters heat all the water your household uses, or just your swimming pool?

  • Both! Your solar water heater can be used for your whole house, or you can use it on your swimming pool. If you prefer to heat both, you may need to set up two separate solar heaters, depending on the size and space you have to work with.
  • Solar heaters that are intended for household use are generally larger than those for swimming pools. However, heaters for in-ground or very large swimming pools may also be big, themselves.
  • Regardless of the type of heater you’re installing, you’ll need to make sure you have enough roof or yard space to devote to your solar heating needs.

Can solar water heaters work in cold climates?

  • Yes. However, like with cloudy days, they may not be functional at all times. Some people use backup electrical hot water heaters during the cold months and only operate their solar water heaters when it’s sunny and warm outside. Others purchase more elaborate water heaters that can store and maintain radiant heat for longer.
  • Some types of water heaters may freeze during very cold temperatures. Always check out the manufacturer’s recommendations for use with any solar heater you’re thinking of installing. This way, you’ll know whether or not it’s meant for use in your climate.


So how does a solar water heater works? As you can see, it’s not very complicated, but it can take a little time to understand as well. Solar heaters come in a few different styles that work in different ways, but they all accomplish their goal similarly.

Now that you have a more solid understanding of how to work solar water heater setups, you can choose the right one for your needs. Pick the type that will work best for your climate and your home, and then choose the right size and style from there. You’re sure to be pleased with the results!

But how does solar water heater work in comparison to a traditional water heater? What are the benefits of using a solar heater instead?

  • Solar heaters can help you cut down dramatically on your energy bill.
  • You’ll live a greener life and won’t consume as much electricity or gas with a solar heater.
  • Solar heaters are easier to maintain and upkeep over time.

By learning how solar water heater work takes place, you’re giving yourself a great head start on your journey to more affordable, greener, and more efficient living!

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