Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their answers can be found here. Have additional questions or still not sure if solar is right for you? Get started by filling out the contact form and one of our Solene representatives will be in touch soon.

How does a solar water heating system work?

All solar water heating systems feature two components: a solar thermal collector and a storage tank (reservoir). The solar thermal collector absorbs solar energy in the form of heat and transfers this heat to a storage tank for later use, offsetting the need for electrical or gas heating elements. This can be done using the water in the storage tank itself or indirectly using a heat transfer fluid and heat exchanger. Beyond this the components and possibilities for system configurations are endless.

Can a solar water heating system replace my electric or gas water heater?

Not entirely, but they can greatly reduce the need for conventional heating sources to be used. Depending on system size, hot water usage, climate, and other factors solar water heating systems can provide up to 80% of energy needed for water heating on an annual basis.

Will a solar water heating system work in cooler climates?

Yes, so long as there is solar energy available to the collector the water heating system will function. In cooler climates with less solar energy available more collectors with higher tilts (in relation to the horizon) will be needed but the system will still serve to offset conventional heating.

My roof faces east, will a solar water heating system work properly facing east?

Yes, in the northern hemisphere south is the best orientation for solar water heating systems but east and west orientations also work with limited losses in overall production.

What other uses do solar heating collectors have?

Beyond just heating water for use in the home or office solar water heating collector can also be integrated into space heating, swimming pool, and process water heating systems, among other things, to offset the need for conventional heating methods.

How much does a solar water heating system cost?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. The cost of a solar system depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the system and the particular system manufacturer, retailer, and installer. However, any solar rebates and other incentives available in your area will reduce that total cost.

For solar water heaters, you will also be taking into consideration the price of the fuel used to back up the system. In most cases, you will have to add in the cost of supplemental natural gas or electricity to get a fairly accurate estimate of how much you can expect to pay for a solar system. Contact Solene today and get a FREE estimate.

How much money will a solar water heating system save on my utility bill?

It is difficult to say how much you will save with a solar system. That depends on several factors, including how much you already pay your local utility for electricity or natural gas. You can ask your solar system professional how much heat your new system will produce on an annual basis and then subtract that number from your current annual consumption—the total amount of electricity and gas you use—to get an idea of how much you will save. Data on your current annual consumption should be available from your utility.

Will water be heated on a cloudy day?

Yes. Although the heat output of the solar collector is reduced on overcast days it will still be able to provide significant heating. If it is a heavily clouded day or raining, then more gas or electric boosting may be required to maintain water at the required temperature. This system will be automated so you don’t have to worry about running out of hot water on a rainy day.

How does solar hot water differ from solar electricity?

Solar Electric, uses the energy trapped within sunlight to generate an electrical charge. This charge can then be stored and used to power any number of electronic and electric devices. Solar Hot Water, however, is also known as Solar Thermal, and uses the tremendous energy trapped within sunlight to generate heat. The heat is then transferred by any number of mechanisms to water. We can use that water for nearly every hot water application from domestic hot water use to radiant space heating to pool/spa heating. In, fact, Solar Thermal technology is much further advanced than PV technology today – a typical PV panel has an efficiency of 14 – 20% where a Solar Hot Water System has an efficiency of 80% or better. This makes Solar Hot Water Systems one of, if not, the most cost-effective and affordable uses of Solar Energy available today.

Can I use solar thermal water heater systems to heat my pool or spa?

Yes. In fact, Pool Heating is considered one of the most affordable, efficient and cost-effective uses of Solar Water Heater Systems today. Heating a pool or spa can require a significant amount of propane, natural gas or electricity, and as energy prices continue to rise, it is becoming a more and more unnecessary and unaffordable expense. However, a heated pool often provides the benefit of being able to swim earlier in the spring and later in the fall in all locations, and even all year round in some locations.

What size Solene system will I need?

Sizing your solar water heating system basically involves determining the total collector area and the storage volume you’ll need to meet 90%–100% of your household’s hot water needs during the summer. Solar system contractors use worksheets and computer programs to help determine system requirements and collector sizing. Contact a Solene representative for a FREE estimate!

Collector Area

Contractors usually follow a guideline of around 20 square feet (2 square meters) of collector area for each of the first two family members. For every additional person, add 8 square feet (0.7 square meters) if you live in the U.S. Sun Belt area or 12–14 square feet if you live in the northern United States.

Storage Volume

A small (50- to 60-gallon) storage tank is usually sufficient for one to two three people. A medium (80-gallon) storage tank works well for three to four people. A large tank is appropriate for four to six people.

For active systems, the size of the solar storage tank increases with the size of the collector — typically 1.5 gallons per square foot of collector. This helps prevent the system from overheating when the demand for hot water is low. In very warm, sunny climates, some experts suggest that the ratio should be increased to as much as 2 gallons of storage to 1 square foot of collector area.

Other Calculations

Additional calculations involved in sizing your solar water heating system include evaluating your building site’s solar resource and determining the proper orientation and tilt of the solar collector. Visit the solar water heaters page for more on these calculations.

Source: Energy.gov

Use our system sizing guide below to help determine how big your Solene system will need to be.

Solene Residential System Sizing Map

Residential System Sizing Guide
Region# of PeopleSystemCollector AreaSystem Capacity
A & B 440 / 8040 sq. ft.80 gal.
A & B4 – 564 / 8064 sq. ft.80 gal.
A & B664 / 12064 sq. ft.120 gal.
A & B780 / 12080 sq. ft.120 gal.
C, D, & E 440 / 8040 sq. ft.80 gal.
C, D, & E4 – 564 / 8064 sq. ft.80 gal.
C, D, & E664 / 12064 sq. ft.120 gal.
C, D, & E780 / 12080 sq. ft.120 gal.
F 4 – 780 / 12080 sq. ft.120 gal.