Solar Thermal

Solar Water Heating (SWH) captures sunlight and uses it to heat water and buildings. The technology is simple: it’s illustrated when you leave a garden hose in the sun and the water within gets hot.  Similarly, liquid flows inside large panels on the roof and the sunshine it warms up. We can capture this heat for household use like showers, dishwashing, doing laundry, other household uses, or even heating a hot tub. Solar Water Heating, also called solar thermal, works in residential, as well as industrial settings like breweries, concrete plants or commercial food processors. Additionally, when you next go swimming, look at the roof of the pool and see if solar water heating panels are installed! More than 800,000 commercial pools in the US are heated with SWH systems.  

The basic residential SHW set up has 2 panels, a large storage tank full of water, and pipes that connect the installation to the household water distribution system. In cold climates, glycol flows through the pipes in the system, since glycol resists freezing. Warmer climates simply run water through the solar collector panels. Solar heat is then used to warm the water tank. South-facing orientation is important, in order to capture as much sunlight (and therefore heat) as possible. 

ACES installed our solar hot water system at Rock Bottom Ranch in 2003. It offsets propane to provide household hot water and interior space heating. 

Americans spend $32 billion annually to heat water.  Household hot water demand accounts for between 50 and 80% of residential utility bills.   Water heating is one of the simplest technologies to convert from fossil to renewable energy. SWH is often called the “family renewable” because the systems cost between $6,000 and $10,000 and offset the more expensive of household utility bills. Systems can payback in 3 to 10 years, depending on the traditional heating fuel being replaced.