Best Solar Water Heaters

Review & Comparison, Last Update June 16, 2018
Heated water is something we use often, whether it's for washing dishes, taking a shower, or even heating pool water for swims in cool weather. Since heating water often draws heavily on the electric bill, many people are on the lookout for ways to lower their energy costs. Using a solar water heater is one of the best ways to do this. Read on for information about solar water heaters and see five different models that can be right for you. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type of Use
Heating Source
Efficiency
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

The inner coating of the pipes is made with food-grade stainless steel, which prevents the build-up of micro-organisms that can be harmful to the human body. Water which passes through these pipes is therefore safe for cooking.

CONS

This unit is quite heavy and bulky, which means that installation on a roof can be difficult and time-consuming.

OUR VERDICT

By purchasing this water heater, you get everything you need for full-fledged use. The kit includes not only the solar panels, but also a 40-gallon storage tank and a functional controller.

detailed parameters
Type of Use

For home use

Heating Source

15 tubes (2.28" x 70.8")

Outer Material: Stainless Steel 304

Efficiency

~94%

Extras

5 spare tubes included, 45 degree stand for flat roofs, 40-gallon tank

Warranty

3 years

PROS

The use of high-quality materials in the manufacturing along with reliable insulation of the tubes ensures that the conversion of solar rays into thermal energy can reach as much as 96% efficiency.

CONS

The quality of the paint used on the frame leaves much to be desired.

OUR VERDICT

If you are looking for efficient solar panels for additional tap water heating, this model from Duda will be an excellent option. Moreover, the panel is compatible with most home systems.

detailed parameters
Type of Use

For home use

Heating Source

15 tubes (2.28" x 70.8")

Outer Material: Stainless Steel 304

Efficiency

~93-96%

Extras

5 spare tubes included, 45 degree stand for flat roofs

Warranty

3 years

PROS

Multiple drain plugs provide an incredibly fast and efficient drainage of water in case the solar panel is disconnected from the pool water supply system.

CONS

The legs may loosen over time, thereby reducing the stability of the panel.

OUR VERDICT

By connecting this solar heater to the water purification system, you can increase the water temperature by 10 degrees. Now the swimming season will end much later!

detailed parameters
Type of Use

Heating pool water

Heating Source

10 square feet solar grid panel 

Outer Material: PP (Polypropylene)

Polycarbonate shell for "greenhouse effect"

Efficiency

N/A

Extras

Built-in legs for 30-degree angle placing, multiple drain plugs, connectors and brass fittings included

Warranty

3 months

PROS

This water heater is equipped with long hoses for connection, so you can place it in an optimal location for exposure to direct sunlight and to prevent any type of interference.

CONS

The efficiency performance of the panel is rather low.

OUR VERDICT

Do you own a small pool, and you want to significantly reduce the amount of electricity that is used to heat the water in it? Getting this solar panel will allow you to increase the pool water's temperature by a few degrees.

detailed parameters
Type of Use

Heating pool water

Heating Source

22.4" x 22.4" x 8.7" solar dome

Outer Material: PP (Polypropylene)

Polycarbonate shell for "greenhouse effect"

Efficiency

N/A

Extras

Built-in legs for 30-degree angle placing, connection kit with hoses included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

This kit includes a special Intex adapter, which allows this solar panel to be connected to almost any above-ground or inflatable pool.

CONS

The hoses included in the kit are rather short in length.

OUR VERDICT

By choosing this model, you will no longer need to think about how to properly position it for the best effect. Thanks to the unique curved design, it demonstrates high performance, regardless of placement in relation to the sun.

detailed parameters
Type of Use

Heating pool water

Heating Source

~8.2 square feet solar grid panel 

Outer Material: PP (Polypropylene)

Polycarbonate shell for "greenhouse effect"

Efficiency

N/A

Extras

Unique Curved Shape, Built-in legs for angle placing, connection kit with hoses included, adapters for Intex pools included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

Duda Solar DS-SH58-15T-SUS304

All Purpose Water Heater

Many people who are interested in a solar water heater are probably looking for something to fill their everyday hot water needs. If this is the case, then the 150 Liter SUS304 Passive Duda Solar Water Heater should appear first on your radar. This model provides an all-purpose use case for your home, with a 150 liter storage capacity, which should be plenty for almost anyone's daily needs. Consisting of 15 14mm copper heat pipes, this solar water heater provides enough hot water for use in almost any household.

As with most domestic solar water heaters, this unit is meant to be mounted on the roof of your home. The solid construction and large size may mean that such a task is not easily done, but this is countered with the fact that these same characteristics reflect its high build quality, which means that it should require very little in the way of maintenance once it has been installed.

The unit itself is made of a 304 stainless steel outer shell, which provides corrosion-resistant protection against all of the elements, ensuring a fully functional water heater and requiring very little upkeep. The protection is even good enough to provide reasonable resistance to hailstone damage, which means that there should be few worries about protecting it during a storm.
Review of Duda Solar DS-SH58-15T-SUS304 150 Liter Passive Solar Water Heater Attached Pressurized Tank

High Build Quality and Efficiency

This model uses vacuum tubes that are connected to heat pipes and includes a 150 liter storage tank for the heated water. Water is supplied to the unit from the inlet for your home's city or well water and is fed into the hot water plumbing. The tubes are heated by direct sunlight and then converted into heat at a very high efficiency of around 94 percent. This means that only a very small amount of heat generated by sunlight is wasted, ensuring that your hot water supply gets almost all of the heat.

Since solar water heaters are reliant on direct sunlight for heating, this could potentially pose a problem for weather or sky conditions that prevent much or any direct sunlight from heating your water. However, this is not a problem, as this model includes an electric backup water heating element and a TK-7Y controller. For times where direct sunlight isn't available, the backup electric generator can be used for heating water, and the controller allows for settings that prevent it from heating water at times where it is commonly not needed.

All in all, this model provided the capabilities of replacing almost any home's water heating system with one that is much more eco-friendly and efficient. Those who desire these characteristics will be hard-pressed to find a better model elsewhere.

Duda Solar DS-SH58-15T-SUS304 150 Liter Passive Solar Water Heater Attached Pressurized Tank in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

This works really well. If we have had rain and cloud, it may take a few minutes for the water to warm up, it when it does, it is hot!
 

Duda Solar DS-SC5814-15T-45deg

High Quality and Easily Integrated

Although the allure of having a solar water heater can be strong for many, one of the bigger downsides is that many of them are not easily integrated into a home plumbing system. Many models seek to entirely replace much of the infrastructure of a home's plumbing just to get it installed. Not so with the 5 Tube Duda Solar Water Heater Collector. Although many higher-end models have their own water tanks and plumbing options, this model is meant to be easily integrated into an existing plumbing system.

Like the solar collectors for the previously reviewed model, this particular model contains 15 14mm TU1 Copper Heat Pipes that are mounted on the roof of a home at a 45 degree angle, which is ideal for catching and absorbing the heat rays of the sun during all hours of sunlight. The 304 stainless steel construction means that these pipes can withstand almost all natural elements that the weather will throw at them, all while requiring little in the way of maintenance.

Along with the durability comes easy installation, as this unit does not have many of the added accessories of other models, but instead is meant to be used in conjunction with an existing plumbing setup. Those who are handy with doing repairs or appliance installs will find no trouble in installing this model.

Review of Duda Solar DS-SC5814-15T-45deg Solar Water Heater Collector

Safe and Efficient

Many other models of solar water heaters that use lower quality materials can suffer from a contaminated water supply. However, this model would not be included. The use of copper heating pipes along with the stainless steel construction not only contributes to its durability, but it also ensures that no microorganisms will build up inside of the pipes, ensuring a clean and safe water supply for many years. This model can boast a high quality rating that will require very little upkeep over the years,

Not only is the water supply guaranteed to be safe, but you will also experience a very high efficiency rating with the conversion of direct sunlight to heat. The build quality characteristics mentioned before help contributed to a sun efficiency rating of between 93 to 96 percent, meaning that almost all sunlight that this model absorbs will be converted into heat. Any worries about not having hot water will be wiped away, even in colder climates.

About the only downside to this model is that the paint job on it has a cheap appearance, which is misleading as all of the other materials used in its construction are only of the highest quality. Despite this small quirk, you can be ensured of a high quality solar water heater that will last you a lifetime.

Duda Solar DS-SC5814-15T-45deg Solar Water Heater Collector in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

This added such eye appeal to an installation for warming a small green house that I have been asked to do another. It is more efficient at less than the ideal angle to the sun that it performs very well.

Size & Weight

This is a very cool 15 tube sized setup. I'm estimating the payoff to be around 4 years.
 

Doheny's Heating Solar Panels

Extend Your Swimming Season

One of the more popular uses for solar water heaters is in the use of heating pool water. This is especially important for those who own swimming pools in an area that has a cooler climate. Investing so much money in a pool while only being able to use it for a short time each year is aggravating, so solar water heaters can come to the rescue by helping to extend the amount of time that a pool is usable. For those who are looking for this option, Doheny's Solar Grid Pool Heating Solar Panels can be the perfect fit.

Since many of the general purpose solar water heaters are made to be used with a home plumbing system, the materials that are often used in their construction are often not suitable for chlorinated water. This model, however, has been designed specifically to be used with pool water. The hard plastic outer shell covers a series of black heating tubes that will collect sunlight and convert the energy into heat, which can have the effect of raising the temperature of your pool water by up to 10 degrees. Those who live in a northern area with a relatively short summer season will be pleased with having warm water to swim in, even after the weather has cooled off.

Review of Doheny's Heating Solar Panels Solar Grid Pool

Good Build Quality

Any solar water heater collectors that are going to be kept outside year round must be well made with high-quality materials that allow them to endure the elements, and this particular model is no exception. Framed with a hard plastic outer shell, it features a 30 degree incline that helps maximize exposure to the sun. The sturdy mounting legs allow for mounting on almost any surface, and the easy access connectors and brass fittings ensure a good quality connection to tubing without excessive leaking.

Along with the high build quality comes a high efficiency in sunlight absorption. The angle of the unit allows for the maximum ability to collect sunlight in almost any season. The outer shell that covers the heating pipes then creates a greenhouse effect on the inside of the unit, which helps raise the temperature well above the outside temperature, and maintains heat even after the outside temperature has dropped or the sun has hidden away. Although just one of these units may be a bit small for larger pools, the easy access connectors allow for the chaining of multiple units, which should be more than enough for pools of almost any size.

The only negative that has been noticed with this unit is that the mounting legs can weaken over time, but this can easily be fixed should this problem ever arise. Regardless, this solar water heater for pools should last for a long time, and help extend your swimming season.

Doheny's Heating Solar Panels Solar Grid Pool in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

We just got this for our 18 foot 52 inch deep just under 6000 gallon Intex pool. We've had it running for 2 days now and the water is already up over 5 degrees. Current temp at 10 PM is 86!!!

Size & Weight

These work great. I mounted 2 of them on the roof of a pergola at a slight angle. I used a separate small utility pump with adapters and a heat sensitive switch.
 

Goplus Solar Heater

Affordable Pool Water Heater

One of the problems encountered with looking for a good solar water heater, especially one made specifically for pools, is that many of them are rather expensive. Many of the very high-quality designs also carry a very high price tag, which is then often seen as yet another expensive addition to a pool. Fortunately, the Goplus Solar Heater for Swimming Pools remains one of the best options out there, especially for those looking to warm their swimming pools at an affordable price.

This model features a unique domed design, which allows for the heater to collect sunlight coming at any angle. This helps give great flexibility in the placement of the solar water heater, especially for those who may have limited options for placement, such as those with large pools in small yards. The domed shape also means that positioning the heater at a particular angle is not necessary.

Each unit contains a series of four domes that house black coiled water hoses within, allowing a greenhouse effect to accumulate inside. This means that plenty of water is able to be heated at once, which can be a huge benefit in comparison to other flat designs. Even if the amount collected by one unit isn't enough, the option remains for connecting multiple units for heating a large pool.

Review of Goplus Solar Heater for Swimming Pool

Swim At Any Time

The construction of the unit feels good and sturdy, despite its affordable price. The hard plastic domed shape of the heat collectors provides enough protection against bad weather to not have to worry about additional protection in most cases. Coupled with that are the long attachment hoses, which means that placement in almost any location is practical, even a long distance from the pool. As mentioned before, there is also the option for connecting multiple units together to help heat a larger pool.

As with most solar water heaters, this model does have its share of negatives. The domed shape carries numerous advantages, but it also has the disadvantage of not being as efficient at heat collection as many other models. Also, it doesn't come equipped with the correct hose size for Intex pools, although there is an adapter available that will allow it to be used with such.

Despite these disadvantages, the Goplus Solar Heater for Swimming Pools will work perfectly fine for most swimming pools, allowing even those with a smaller budget to enjoy an extended swimming season. Anyone looking to add some warmth to their pool water will find this model to be a reasonable addition to their swimming pool.

Goplus Solar Heater for Swimming Pool in the use

What customers say about this product

Features

The product may warm our water but it also seemed to slow down the flow of the filter as well.

Size & Weight

Nice and compact, doesn't take up much room.
 

GAME 4721

Efficient Curved Design

When it comes to solar water heaters that are designed for pools, there are quite a few different options on the market, with many of them carrying unique designs. In this regard, the GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater fits nicely into the market with its own unique design, which allows it to stand out in both looks and functionality. However, where it also stands out from its competitors is in its high efficiency, something that is often missing from solar water heaters for pools, many of which are built more for form than functionality. This model includes both, and even at a very affordable price.

The design of this model is actually more similar to general purpose home solar water heaters than for those designed for pools. The design places the heater at an angle similar to the general purpose heaters, and contains commercial grade heat collectors within. The curved shape of the unit gives it the ability to collect heat at an efficiency that surpasses most other pool solar heaters, heating the water with the standard greenhouse effect. This ensures that your pool water will remain heated well for up to five days at a temperature increase of 5 degrees.

Review of GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

High Durability and Compatibility

The high efficiency of this solar water heater isn't the only positive aspect. This model is made of a very sturdy and durable construction, using only the highest quality materials, yet still remaining affordable. The curved design allows for a high durability in inclement weather, even beyond that of most other solar water heaters for pools. What's more, it is specifically designed for Intex pools, which means that there should be no worries when it comes to the compatibility of the solar heater with your pool.

Included with the unit are intake hoses that come equipped with stainless steel clamps. The clamps are corrosion resistant and should last a long time without degrading or falling off. Although the included hoses are rather short, the standard design means that replacement hoses can easily be purchased and installed should you need longer hoses for your pool setup.

For anyone looking for a proven, efficient, and durable design in a solar water heater for their pool, there are few options that can match the GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater. With its high efficiency and durable construction, this model can guarantee a long swimming season for anyone.

GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Size & Weight

Seems to make pool temperature warm enough to get in at beginning of season. Easy set up, although we ended up using couplers from tractor supply so we didn't have to use clamps an were able to use original intex hoses.

Features

Used two with 24 ft above ground pool. Used flexible sump pump hoses so I could put them in sunny spot. Pool is shaded most of the day. Very pleased with how they installed and work. Run them on a bypass off filter return so pump wouldn't be affected by flow restriction.
 

What Is a Solar Water Heater?

Solar water heaters are devices used for heating water by absorbing the energy and heat of the sun and directing it into the water. They are great ways of not only cutting down on your electricity bill but also for reducing your carbon footprint by reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. Since they require no additional power source other than sunlight, they are ideal for heating water for a variety of purposes, including for cooking, cleaning, and even pool water. Using a solar water heater can allow you to take a pleasant dip in the pool on a cool day and not have to worry about running up the electric bill.

Although many models are made for the same purpose, solar water heaters can work in a variety of ways. Some may use a series of light-concentrating mirrors to direct sunlight efficiently into the water, while others may just use direct sunlight for heating the water. These are a far cry from just painting a water tank black during the old days, as they are much more efficient and most are flexible for a variety of uses. Anyone looking to reduce both their carbon footprint and energy costs can accomplish both significantly by installing a solar water heater in their homes.

Many solar water heaters work best in warm, sunny weather, and may require some kind of protection in inclement weather. If you live in an area with frequent storms or other forms of bad weather, you might want to read about some weather stations for precise weather forecasts.

What Features to Compare

While in the past they were difficult to find and expensive to purchase and install, solar water heaters are now very inexpensive and are made for a large variety of purposes. They can range from small units meant for heating a small kiddie pool to large industrial units made for heating very large quantities of water. While most people can easily avoid looking at the industrial-sized units, looking for the right one for their home can still yield a large selection of choices.

There are a few characteristics you should be aware of in regards to most solar water heaters:

  • Heating Type - Whether the water is heated actively or passively, depending on how sunlight is used for the heating of water.
  • Intended Use - Many solar water heaters are made for specific uses, while others are made for general use.
  • Included Features - With the wide variety of models available, make sure the model you buy includes the features that you need, such as hoses, pumping system, water storage, etc.
  • Efficiency - This refers to both the efficiency of using sunlight to heat water as well as for other characteristics.

Which water heater you buy will depend entirely on your intended purposes for heating water. Those who are wanting a solar water heater for heating tap water for everyday household purposes will need to look at models that can both efficiently heat and store large enough quantities of water for this purpose. Most of these will be roof-mounted models that either include a large storage tank, or can easily interface to existing water storage tanks. Meanwhile, those who want solar water heaters for other purposes will need to make sure that the model they buy supports those purposes.

Did you know?

  • Solar water heaters work by using the heat energy of direct sunlight to heat water. The conversion process can work in one of several ways, but the end result is that the heat from sunlight is transferred into water stored within the heater.
  • Solar water heaters, while a relatively recent appliance for homes, have been in use for many years. The oldest solar water heaters were usually standard water tanks that were painted black and then left in direct sunlight. These old style heaters were very effective on sunny days, but had no recourse for heating water in cloudy or dark weather.
  • Most solar water heaters work in one of two ways, known as active and passive. Active heaters use a pump for moving water through the heating ducts, whereas passive heaters use convection to heat the water.
  • The solar water heater industry has boomed in recent years thanks to several countries mandating their use, with Israel being the first in 1980. Other European countries have followed suit, and now the market is even expanding within the United States.
  • The largest market for solar water heaters is actually in China, followed by Europe, Japan, and India.
  • Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have the largest installations of solar water heaters by the percentage of homes in which they are installed.
  • Many popular home solar water heaters work by using a greenhouse effect to heat water. This is usually done by having black-colored hoses or pipes containing water encased within a clear glass or plastic outer shell. The sunlight is used to heat the water within the black pipes or hoses, and the enclosure helps retain the heat, even after no direct sunlight is available.
  • Many higher-end models of solar water heaters use a series of light-concentrating mirrors to heat water within the heating pipes. These tend to be more effective than greenhouse-styled heaters in heating water when there is little direct sunlight.
  • Higher end models of solar water heaters are built to withstand constant exposure to harsh weather. Regardless, it is a good idea to provide protection for solar water heaters in inclement weather in order to reduce the risk of damage to the system.
  • Many models also include protection to overheating. Overheating can occur when constant exposure to direct sunlight in hot weather can cause the inside of the heating system to produce more heat than it can handle. This can result in damage to the system, or in extreme cases, to its complete destruction.
  • One of the most commonly used materials for the construction of heating pipes within solar water heaters is copper, due to its high heat conductivity as well as its durability.
  • Many high-end models of solar water heaters include electric heating elements meant to keep the water heated during times that direct sunlight isn't available.
  • Active systems within solar water heaters use a serious of pumps to keep water circulating within the system, which can provide a more thorough heating process to the water.
  • There are a large variety of different solar water heaters on the market, with many made for different purposes. If you wish to buy a solar water heater for your home, you should have plenty of choices to choose from.

FAQ:

Q: Why should I buy a solar water heater?
A: Solar water heaters can hold a number of benefits over conventional water heaters. They can help reduce or eliminate the use of electricity or natural gas for heating water, which in turn helps to reduce energy costs. They can also help people reduce their carbon footprint, thereby making them much safer for the environment.

Q: How do solar water heaters work?
A: This can be a complex answer, as there are many different types of solar water heaters that work in different ways. However, the one commonality between them all is that they work by converting solar energy into heat and then transferring that heat energy into water that is contained within the unit.

Q: Do solar water heaters require any kind of external power source in order to operate?
A: This depends on the type of solar water heater. There are two main types: Active and Passive. Active heaters will use one or more pumps for circulating water throughout the heater, whereas passive heaters use a convection process for heating the water. Active heaters will almost always require some kind of external power source for operating the pumps. Most passive heaters do not require a power source, although many will include connections to electrical outlets in order to provide heated water during times of little or no direct sunlight.

Q: Do solar water heaters heat water when there is no sunlight, such as at night or in very cloudy or inclement weather?
A: Many solar water heaters are designed to contain constant heat within the unit in order to keep water heated. However, heat will eventually dissipate when there is little to no direct sunlight, which means that there could be times that heated water is not available. However, many higher end systems include an electric heating option for such times.

Q: Are active solar water heaters better than passive models?
A: Much of this comes down to the specific models, although in general, active heaters can provide a more thorough and consistent heating operation than passive heaters. However, many passive heaters can work quite well, and many are suitable for most people's needs.

Q: Should I buy an active or passive solar water heater for my home?
A: This comes down to being your own choice, and will depend on the specific features of specific models. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, so you should compare those to your own specific needs before settling on a model.

Q: I want a solar water heater for heating my pool water. Should any type of solar water heater suffice?A: Many different models of solar water heaters are made for specific purposes. Those that are meant for heating home water and connect through the plumbing system are designed specifically to work well with normal tap water. The materials that are used for these types of heaters are often not suitable for use with chlorinated water. For heating pool water, it is best to choose a solar water heater that is designed specifically for this purpose.

Sources:

1. Solar water heating, Wikipedia.

2. Solar Water Heating, Solar Energy Trust.

3. Julia Laton How Solar Water Heaters Work, HowStuffWorks.

4. Solar Heating & Cooling, SEIA.

5. How It Works — Solar Water Heaters, ENERGY STAR.

6. Solar Water Heaters, Department of Energy

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Publish Date: 2018-01-29 14:55:21