There are several misconceptions out there regarding Solar and Tankless Hot Water when it comes down to people wanting to make Environmental and Energy Efficient choices when building and remodeling their homes. I will address some of these here to help clear them up.
First of all, Tankless Hot Water Heaters have become, in just the past 2-3 years, very popular. They are an excellent alternative to a Traditional Gas Water Heater. The manufacturers of the equipment have rolled out fantastic marketing campaigns stating ‘Forever Hot Water’ or ‘Instant Hot Water’ and so on. Let’s look at the two here:
Gas Tank Heater –
- Constantly heats the water when it gets below the set temperature. Even if you are not home or not using any Hot water or on vacation for a month
- You only have as much Hot Water as the Tank can hold. Ex: 40 – 50 Gallons making it a nightmare when washing dishes and taking a shower at the same time
- Do not always qualify for the Federal Tax Credit due to energy efficiency
- You have to wait for the Hot Water to reach where ever you wanting to use it
Gas Tankless Water Heater –
- Only heats the water when in use therefore saving the expense of heating the water throughout the day
- The water heats as it goes over the Heating mechanism there by giving you more Hot Water for a longer period of time. However, it can still only handle so much
- Do qualify for the Federal Tax Credit – you will get 30% tax credit but there is a $1500 cap. If you are also changing out your windows and hvac you will not see that credit. You will be maxed out.
- Is not quite ‘Instant Hot Water’ – It is instant at the point of heating but the water still has to get from Point A to Point B
The way around not having to wait for the water to get from point A to point B is to have a Point of Use Tankless Heater. They are considerably smaller (and cheaper) but do the job say for example in the Master Bathroom on the complete opposite side of the home from where the water is being heated.
Now, there is the option of going from Electric Water Heater to Gas Tankless. Keep in mind though that in areas prone to Electrical Outages the switch that starts the heat for the Tankless Gas Heater is run by Electricity. With no power, there is still no Hot Water.
As for Solar Water Heating – I personally think that this is one area that we should all consider more often. You can now get Solar Water Heating for as low approximately $3500 on some smaller homes. Here are some of the benefits:
- Because it is using a Renewable Energy (key word) it qualifies for a different tax credit than the Tankless. It would be 30% with NO CAP
- No Electricity, No Problem. Sort of. There still has to be power for a pump to push the water but as opposed to paying for constant heating of the water by gas or electricity you are only using power to push the water
- The Sun heats the water. Again, no gas or electricity
- There is the option for a Solar Backup/Tank combination – Allowing you to have hot water even during a power outage
You basically are not paying to heat your water again. Which one is best for you? That depends on your home. My personal home does not have enough power coming to the house to start a Tankless Water Heater – So it would cost me appx. $1500 just to get more power from the Grid to use one. If you are building, it depends on how the home is designed.
Now, we can talk all day about which one is better or which would be better combinations. In the end, it depends on what your specific needs and wants happen to be.
My recommendation, have some energy modeling done on the home prior to construction or remodeling and this will help to nail down the possible payback for what you are considering and weigh your options. I have resources on companies that offer this service in my Business Directory. A licensed HERS Rater can help with this. Just be cautious of people that claim to do energy audits that are NOT licensed, they are popping up all over the place. But, I’ll save that for another post in my rant section.