Solar Energy Questions


Got Questions? We Have Answers!


What is a solar water heating system?Q. What is a solar water heater?
A.
Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to heat household water. In Phoenix, with over 300 sunny days each year, a solar water heater can provide up to 90% of a family’s annual hot water needs.

Will I have hot water on a cloudy day?Q. Will I have hot water on a cloudy day?
A.
Yes. Even on cloudy days the system can still generate a substantial portion of your hot water. The automatic electric back-up system will help to provide a consistent supply of hot water during cloudy weather.

Will I have hot water overnight?Q. Will I have hot water overnight?
A.
Yes. Our storage tank is specifically designed to hold heat longer so you won’t have to rely on use of the electrical back-up.

How hot can solar heated water get? Q. How hot can solar heated water get?
A.
Solar water heaters can heat water to temperatures above 212 degrees F. A high limit temperature control is a standard feature on all of Pacific West Solar systems. Normal operating temperatures in the storage tank should not exceed 140 degrees F.

Q. Do you need a specific kind of roof for the solar panel?
Your Roof and Solar PanelsA.
No. Our high quality lightweight solar collectors can be mounted on any flat, pitched or tile roof. In some situations a wall or ground mount is appropriate.

Solar Water Heating SavingsQ. How much can I save with Solar Hot Water?
A.
It will depend on the size of your system and the way you currently heat your water. Typically water heating represents about 25-35% of your utility costs. A Pacific West Solar water heating system will pay for itself with the energy savings earned over a 3 to 4 year period.

Q. How do I claim the Tax Credits and Utility Solar Rebates?
Solar Water Heater Tax Credits & Utility RebatesA.
The Federal Tax Credit is 30% of the cost for a domestic solar energy system. The Arizona State Tax Credit is $1000.These tax credits are used to offset your income tax liabilities and are available when your tax return is filed. Public Utility rebate programs currently provide incentives payable upon completion of a system installation.

Q. How much maintenance do solar water heaters require?
Solar Water Heating System MaintenanceA.
Most solar water heaters require some scheduled maintenance and manufacturers generally all have maintenance schedules for their equipment. It is important to find out from your contractor what these procedures are, their cost and frequency when considering any type of solar water heating system.

Q. Which type of solar heating system works best?
A.
There are four basic types of residential solar renewable energy systems available: Open Loop, Closed Loop, Integral Storage Collectors (ISC), and Thermosyphon. They all have strengths and limitations in design.

Open loop systems are active systems requiring a circulating pump. Water is pumped directly to the collector and water quality and freeze protection are the primary concerns.

Closed loop systems require a heat exchanger and alternative heat transfer fluids, antifreeze or distilled water using a drain back tank. These systems are typically more expensive to install and maintain.

Integral storage systems are generally constructed with 4 inch copper tubing and are used primarily as a preheater to a conventional water heater. These systems generally have lower performance (and lower Utility rebates) due to excessive heat losses overnight.

Thermosyphon systems are passive systems (no pump). They are characterized by having their storage tank located on the roof, mounted directly above the collectors. These systems have 2 significant drawbacks. Their weight requires special structural considerations and permitting. Secondly, they have no high limit temperature control, resulting in excessive summertime overheating.


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