Are Solar Hot Water Heaters worth the Investment?

Discover what contractors arent telling you about Solar Water Heaters.

Follow this tips in this article to purchase the right solar panel solution.



Solar hot water heaters are the most common solar panel purchased in the Orlando Florida market.  The question is should they be.  The answer is a resounding depends.  However how they are being sold to consumers leaves a lot to be desired.  Solar hot water heaters are also the most over exaggerated performance product, they are often claimed to reduce your power bill by excess of 30%.  In reality you are lucky if the solar hot water heater will reduce your power bill by 10%-15%.  We will get to why this miss representation is so important.

For some people the savings might even be less than that.  The reality is they can not accurately measure the amount of hot water you are consuming per month which makes it impossible to accurately predict how much you will save on your power bill.  A family of 5 who doesn’t like hot showers and washes their clothes in cold water may use less hot water than a family of two who likes long hot showers and hot water for their clothes.

The next issue with solar hot water heaters is there is built in maintenance that is needed to be done.  Like cleaning out the collectors so they don’t clog and back up.  This point is often never brought up to the consumer which then leads to the system not being maintained properly and reducing the lifespan of the system by 10 years.  If the system is adequately maintained it can last up to 20 years.  Other common issues that affect solar water heaters in Orlando are the heat that they encounter sometimes wears out the pvc piping and causes them to leak.  I am sure you have noticed those homes with the water stains on their roof right under where the solar water heater is.

The biggest issue against solar hot water heaters are the pricing and how dishonest contractors fool homeowners into believing the system is worth the over inflated price they are selling them at.  According to Home Advisor the average price for an installed solar water heater is $3289 nationally and hear in Orlando its $4371.  This price represents an average of people who are shopping and buying solar hot water heaters.  I have often seen them sold for as much as $12,000 but often for $10,000. This is the difference between when they are sold verse when when are shopped for.  

Contractors trick homeowners with creative math.  Let's take a look at an example.  Let's say you have a $250 electric bill.  Said contractor will say that your hot water portion of your bill represents $75 of your electric bill.  What he/she has done here is free up $75 to put towards the purchase of the hot water heater.   Now the contractor will show them that with a 20yr 5.99% loan they can have the solar hot water heater for $72 per month.  Saving $3  a month right away on their electric bill.


In reality they are only saving 10-15% on their power bill.  Let’s say that they will save $25 per month because of the solar hot water heater.  With an expense of $72 per month the homeowner is really coming out to pocket $47 and have to pay that for 20 years.  For more information on how to spot dishonest contractors read our Solar Buyer's Guide  “The Secret Guide To Buying Solar”


However, If you are able to purchase a system at a reasonable rate like $3500 then a solar water heater system can be a cost effective investment.  Ultimately the price of PV Solar Panels in Orlando have come down so much that I recommend a pv solar panel system to power the entire home and save close to your entire power bill and use those funds to finance the full solar panel system.  When you power the whole home it will power your hot water heater plus all of your appliances, AC and electrical equipment.  The long term saving are tremendous and then you don’t have to worry about the maintenance issues with the solar hot water heaters.  I will also often recommend a hybrid or tankless water heater over the solar water heater because they rival them in efficiency and are even more economical financially.  You can get a Hybrid water heater installed for under $2000.  Same is true for a Tankless Water Heater.

If you are shopping conscientiously you can find a good deal for a solar hot water heater.  Although if you are shopping for a good deal I believe you will always find yourself going for the PV Solar panel system for your home.  Use other efficiency hot water heaters at a much cheaper price and save on your entire home power bill with an in home solar panel system.