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Suggestions for Solar Hot Water Heater

 
stiphy
(@stiphy)
Trusted Member

Ugh, right as I was about to go to sleep I went to shut the front door and stepped in a pool of water. I found a leak in the water heater, it looks like quite a bit of rust has formed near one of the valves (the one not hooked up to anything, I guess some sort of relief valve or something). Looks like its time to get a new water heater (unless someone here knows how to plug a leaky rusting valve or has some suggestion).

I was thinking of going with a solar hot water heater system anyway. I want one with a normal water heater for backup on cloudy days as I lived in a house with just solar and took a few too many cold showers there. I figure that this would be a good time to make the move; rather than just replace the water heater, get the whole solar system put in. I was hoping someone on this forum might have some recommendation. Also some thoughts on what I should expect to pay would be great. I currently have (I believe) a 40 gallon "short" water heater that has been sufficient for us, we've not run out of hot water since I've been here. So I would want to have the same "capacity" in any solar system I get.

All and any help is much appreciated!

Thanks

Sean

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Topic starter Posted : January 8, 2010 2:58 am
Lizard
(@Lizard)
Trusted Member

If you're handy, it will be about 400.00 for a new 40 gallon tank and if your not handy about 200.00 more to install. There is only Two water lines one into and the other out of the tank to the house water supply line.. the one line you refer to is for the pressure relief valve. You can't fix a hot water tank. I assume that your heater is electric, after you install the tank make sure it is grounded.
Welcome to home ownership:D

Forgot, one other thing make sure you turn off the main water valve to the house, don't trust the hand turn off valve on the in line to the tank.*-)

A solar package is going to run approx 7000.00 with a rebate, that's a guesstament I'M sure others will tell you different. However the average American family moves every 7 years, which means you wouldn't recoup your initial cost if you moved prior to the 7 year rule.

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Posted : January 8, 2010 4:31 am
Lizard
(@Lizard)
Trusted Member

Big Article today in the ST Croix Source about solar water heaters. Tax credits, down payments, cost to recover etc. Today may be your lucky day.

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Posted : January 8, 2010 10:16 am
rks
 rks
(@rks)
Advanced Member

Umm, my 50 gallon unit cost 1400. several years ago (I installed it) and VIEO paid half. Net cost to me was some copper pipe, solder and 700.

My water heater has 4 fittings: 1 each for supply and hot water out, and one each for a loop to the collector.

Good luck.

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Posted : January 8, 2010 10:32 am
pamela
(@pamela)
Trusted Member

There is a new company on STT doing the solar hot water stuff as well. Will track down the name when I go by today.

Pamela

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Posted : January 8, 2010 2:33 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
Trusted Member

Thanks for the help and tips! I was pretty sure there was no way to fix the existing water heater, thanks for the confirmation on that as I would've likely wasted time trying to fix the unfixable (I have a tendancy to do that sometimes).

I 've become pretty handy since buying my house a few years ago. I've replumbed just about everything in my house EXCEPT the water heater so hopefully after this I'll have a few years off of plumbing. Unless of course my workmanship is as poor as some of the workmanship I had to replace in the house :).

I did a little research late last night and afterward I was guessing about $400 for a regular water heater plus a few hours of my time plumbing it in. My guesstimate on solar water heaters before rebates was around $3000 installed, which after the $900 rebate (max I believe on a 40-80 gal unit) from VIEO and 30% tax credit would come in at around $1200 or so (not sure if tax credit is after or before rebate). That would make my estimate on a payback time of about 1 year which is great. If its up in the $7000 range then that would make it not worth it as the time it would take to recoup my investment would be too long.

I'm on STX, I should've mentioned that. Pamela, you may be thinking of OTL? They started over here but have now started doing work over on STT. I'm good friends with some of their guys and are going to be giving them a call later today

Just read the Source article...certainly timely! If anyone has particular vendor recomendations I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,

Sean

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Topic starter Posted : January 8, 2010 4:29 pm
Rivets
(@Rivets)
Advanced Member

you might just have a malfunctioning pressure/temperature relief. there is usually a way to open valve manually. although you should have heater cold, and turn off water pressure to heater as well. (don't want to scald yourself). maybe just cycling it a few times will make it work again. otherwise you can just unscrew it and replace it. new pt valve probably only $20 or so, and they do recommend replacing them periodically.
it depends on where the water is leaking from. if it is coming through the valve, then not too bad to replace it. if the tank is rusted out and leaking through the tank itself, then it needs replacement.

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Posted : January 8, 2010 5:03 pm
pamela
(@pamela)
Trusted Member

No, the one here is called SolarSystems LLC. One of the many, many job interviews I went on ...ugh!

Pamela

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Posted : January 8, 2010 5:25 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
Trusted Member

Thanks for the advice Rivet's, I actually thought of replacing the valve. It is VERY rusty though and the leak appears to be coming not from the valve it self but from before where the threading is to unscrew the valve so I'm guessing that this is not as simple as just replacing the valve. Thanks Pam, I've heard of them as well, not sure if they are over here on STX. My friend who works for OTL is going to swing by this weekend and discuss options and prices since they do install solar panels.

Sean

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Topic starter Posted : January 8, 2010 6:57 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

we have a great solar hot water system which we can plug in on cloudy days. beecher higby on st. croix installed it. and wow does the water ever get hot. with all the rebates wasnt as much as you would think. depends on the size of the panel you want.

beecher has installed solar heaters for years and knows what he is doing. give him a call. i would recommend going that route.

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Posted : January 11, 2010 5:40 pm
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

I can vouch for Beecher doing good work.
His company name I believe is West Indies Solair on STX

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Posted : January 11, 2010 10:34 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
Trusted Member

Thanks guys!

Sean

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Topic starter Posted : January 12, 2010 12:16 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

thatsssssssssss it skye. i forgot. we haven't had any problems with ours. (knock on wood)

even if we go a couple of days without sun , water stored in hot water heater is still warm.

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Posted : January 12, 2010 2:35 pm
stxapt
(@stxapt)
Advanced Member

I just saw your post. The Energy Office just started their 100% financing program on solar water heaters. They finance 50% at 1% interest and give you a 50% rebate. There is also a 30% tax credit. The money you save by switching to a solar water heater is more than the payment! This is a great program you should take advantage of. There is a system available that can convert your electric hot water heater to a solar tank with a special adapter, so you can use a locally sourced tank. here is a link. Good luck! www.visolarsolutions.com

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Posted : January 13, 2010 1:07 am
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

i think gallows bay hardware also offer some solar stuff. but probably costs alot more like most things do there.

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Posted : January 13, 2010 12:47 pm
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