In the US, enough solar energy falls on the roof of an average single-family home to heat the house and hot water needs for the entire year. The key is to collect solar energy when abundant with cost-effective hardware, store the heat energy, and deliver the heat when needed. SunOwner has been working on this challenge and has developed the hardware to capture the heat available from solar electric modules.
Solar Hot Water History
Heating water with the sun has been around since someone put a barrel of water directly in the sun. Refinements followed by painting the barrel black to absorb more sunlight. Systems have evolved further in cold weather to keep the water hot by putting insulation around the tank to reduce heat loss. Solar collection panels were developed to circulate water heated by the sun and stored the hot water in a tank in heated space to be used when needed. To operate year-round in cold climates, these systems were filled with a mixture of water and antifreeze. The heat exchanger was then enhanced to include a safety barrier between the water in the solar collector and the domestic hot water. Controls came next to circulate the heat collection fluid only when there was sufficient heat to collect to add to the stored water.
This was the state of the industry through 1980. Spurred by the Mideast oil embargo, federal and state incentives for solar hot water spurred the sale of many thousands of solar hot water systems on homes. This was also when the architects designed some buildings to capture solar energy through southerly facing windows to minimize home heating fuel usage. Unfortunately, this new approach was short-lived, and when the embargo ended and oil again became plentiful, house design reverted to a fossil fuel-dependent design.
A few decades ago, solar hot water systems were being installed by the thousands because there was a short-lived federal tax credit. Like New York and Massachusetts, some states added an additional state tax credit for a total of 50% system cost reduction. This fiscal incentive reduced the cost and produced an attractive return on the Investment (ROI).