Solar Panels, Water Heaters, and Saving Money


How getting off the grid is good for your hot water supply and your bank account

Slowly but surely you are transitioning your home from reliance on fossil fuels and utility company electric grids to solar power. 


I don't have to tell you that solar power reduces greenhouse gas emissions or is far less expensive than gas or electric power. But if you're trying to switch all the major systems in your home to run off solar panels, you'll need to know if those systems can actually be powered by the sun. 


I can help you check off one of those major household systems: water heating. Yes, water heaters can be powered by solar panels. 


To be specific, only electric or high-efficiency hybrid water heaters can be powered by solar panels. 


Will my water heater run on solar power?

 

  • Electric Tank Water Heater - Yes

  • High-Efficiency Hybrid Water Heater - Yes

  • Gas (Tank-Style or Tankless) Water Heater - No


The reason solar panels can't power your gas water heater is because solar panels can only turn sunshine into electricity, not gas. So, if your water is currently heated by gas (whether in a tank-style or tankless system) and you want to heat your water with a solar panel, you'll need to upgrade your water heater. 


Good News: since the State of California wants you to use less energy, right now they'll even pay for part of the cost of switching to a hybrid


 4 Benefits of Heating Your Water with Solar Panels 

 

Benefit 1: Save Money on Your Utility Bills 
When you harness the sun's energy to power your home, you can cut ties with your local utility company. Even if you don't switch all of your home's power to solar, any reduction in electricity or gas expenses will save you money. 


Combining solar panels with a high-efficiency hybrid water heater will drastically cut down on your cost to heat water. Hybrid water heaters use heat pumps to move energy into your water to heat it, as opposed to electric water heaters, which require energy to be created. Creating energy is expensive and often requires the burning of fossil fuels. 


Benefit 2: Reduce Your Energy Consumption (and Emissions) 
Harnessing the sun to power your water heating system reduces your energy consumption, which reduces pollution and helps turn back the dial on climate change. 


While solar panels aren't free, sunshine is. It's a renewable, sustainable source of energy. You can't beat that!


Additionally, high-efficiency hybrid water heaters use a quarter of the energy needed to power an electric water heater, so it won’t be a heavy load for your solar system or battery back-up. 


Saving the earth and saving money go hand-in-hand! 


Benefit 3: Have Hot Water Even When the Power Goes Out
Extreme weather events and wildfires make rolling blackouts a reality for Golden State residents.

 

We understand the stress and frustration of losing hot water even temporarily during a blackout. But with solar, you can avoid all of that inconvenience. Solar and a battery backup will provide you with hot water and peace of mind during any rolling blackout or prolonged outage.


Benefit 4: Have All the Hot Water You Need 
If you're worried about solar not being able to keep up with your hot water needs, don’t be. Running your water heating system off solar panels will not decrease the amount of readily available hot water. Solar power can more than keep up with your daily water needs — whether your have a conventional tank-style system or a  high-efficiency hybrid water heater.


So now that you have the facts, you can decide if you want to upgrade your water heating system and/or connect your current electric water heater to your solar panels. We are experts at both. 


What questions do you have about your water heater? We'll be happy to answer them and ensure you have the system that's right for you and your family. Give us a call at (925) 872-0805.


Here’s my personal promise to you: When you call or schedule an on-site estimate — whether for a repair or a replacement — there will be no pressure. No obligation. We will not sell you a water heater you don’t need or want.



Thanks for letting us be your trusted plumber.

Phil Barnett
President of Barnett Plumbing & Water Heaters