06 Feb. 19

What are the differences: Heat Pump Vs. Solar Water Heater 

Going through your daily routine can be a challenging prospect. Challenging as it is, there is no doubt that technology has served to make our lives more comfortable throughout the past few decades. Humans are creatures of comfort. To make sure that we enjoy maximum comfort, there are a number of appliances that offer various services to us quickly.

The water heater is one of them. Hot water is a necessity in our households. At the very least, you will need it to wash or shower. A few decades ago, people had to make use of basic methods when it came to heating water for use. However, with the advent of the water heater, things have become more simple.

Most households have hot water systems now and for a good reason too. With minimum fuss, you can get hot water running from your taps. All you have to do is turn on your water heater, and you are good to go.

Types of Water Heaters

Like other electrical appliances, water heaters exist in different forms. Usually, water heaters are classified into storage water heaters and tankless water heaters. They can be further ranked based on their energy sources. To this end, we have:

Gas water heaters

Electric water heaters

Heat pump water heaters

Solar water heaters

Choosing which type of water heater to buy can be a tiring experience. Most of the time, most people get stuck between heat pumps and solar water heaters.

In this post, we will be discussing these two types of water heaters, exploring their functionalities as well as their merits and demerits.

Heat Pumps

What Are Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps are electrical devices that are designed to extract heat from one location and transfer it to another. Heat pump technology is not necessarily new. It has been used in countries like Canada for several years. Refrigerators, as well as air conditioners, work using heat pump technology. Recently, heat pump technology has been incorporated into water heating with huge dividends.

How Does A Heat Pump Work?

Heat pumps are a great option if your goal is to conserve energy and reduce the amount of money spent on electricity bills. Refrigerators work by taking heat from inside and transferring it outside. Your heat pump operates in the same way albeit in the opposite direction. It takes heat from the surroundings and moves it to the water in your storage tanks.

This process increases the temperature of your water while expending cool air outside. This is the primary reason why the air outside heat pumps is always cold. This heat transfer method of heating water is very efficient and fast.

Energy Consumption and Savings

Heat pumps are very efficient when it comes to saving energy. It is important to note that temperature changes only have a slight effect on their energy consumption rates.

When compared with other conventional types of water heaters (Electric and gas), a heat pump comes out ahead. They only need about one-third of the energy these heaters require. This means that with a heat pump, you get to save about 70% on energy costs.

Merits of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a suitable alternative to your regular water heaters. They offer a myriad of benefits for users including:

  • They can heat large water volumes at a time. There are heat pumps that have capacities of up to 200 litres.
  • They are highly cost-effective since you need less energy to heat the same quantity of water when compared to a conventional water heater.
  • They have long lifespans. You can use a heat pump for five years without it having any significant breakdowns.
  • They can also act as cooling agents. Heat pumps tend to cool the locations in which they are installed.
  • Heat pumps are totally safe.
  • They are easy to install and relatively straightforward to maintain.

The only drawback to heat pumps is a function of the refrigerant that they contain. It is imperative that its heating coils are adequately safeguarded against corrosion. Similarly, refrigerant gas may not be good for the environment. You are advised to check for the environmental effects before you begin to use your heat pump.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar energy has received widespread use over the course of the past few years. Nowadays, we have solar powered cars, lighting systems and now heating systems. Why don’t we go in-depth into the workings of a solar water heating system?

What is a Solar Water Heater?

Solar water heaters utilize solar energy to heat water. It is as simple as that. They harness the power dispensed by the sun and convert it into heat energy.

Solar water heating systems are installed in an open space where they can get maximum sunlight. The energy from the sun is converted to heat energy. This heat energy is then transferred to the water contained in an insulated tank.

Solar water heaters work solely without electricity. They also do not possess an on /off switch. The.g. continuously use sunlight to heat water throughout the day. This means that the amount of hot water you will have is dependent on the size of your storage tank.

Types of Solar Water Heaters

1. Flat Plate Collectors (FPC): These systems are made of metal. They tend to have a longer life span.

2. Evacuated Tube Collectors (ETC): They are mostly made entirely of glass. They are more delicate than FPC systems.

These two types of solar heaters may come outfitted with a pump. This pump is used to effect the movement of this water from the storage tank to the collectors.

What Type of Solar Heater Should I Buy?

Both systems are incredibly functional. Deciding which one to buy mostly depends on your personal preference.

ETC systems can be described as fragile. They are also cheaper than FPC systems. They are a good fit for colder regions where temperatures can fall below zero. If you are going to be using these systems in a place where the water is salty, you have to clean them regularly to avoid salt deposits.

FPC systems, on the other hand, are more durable. They are made entirely of metal and can work under harsh conditions. FPC systems are expensive options. If you are using them in cold regions, you will have to purchase an anti-freeze solution with it. Similarly, in places with salty water, you have to use them with a heat exchanger to avoid scale deposition.

How Efficient Is a Solar Heater on Rainy Days

Many users often have concerns about the efficiency of a solar system during rainy days. You don’t have to worry about that. As long as the rainy days don’t last for more than two days, your solar water heater will still work. This is because your average solar system works using diffused radiation. This diffused radiation remains in the atmosphere even if rain falls for a day or two.

If you are still worried, you can integrate your solar system with an electric system that kicks in if the overcast lasts for a long time.

Energy Consumption and Savings

When there is abundant sunlight, your solar water heater expends little to no energy. At night, however, it has a conventional geyser element that is used to heat your water. The total energy consumption of your solar water heater is a function of how often you make use of your hot water. However, you can expect energy savings to range between 45%-70%.

Maintaining A Solar Water Heating System

Here are a few tips to make sure that your solar heating system serves you well over a long period:

If you make use of an ETC system, you have to be extra careful with it. Take proper care when cleaning. Since the glass is fragile, it may also need replacement from time to time.

You may need to clean the system regularly with acid. This is done to avoid scaling especially if your water is classified as hard.

If the outer components of your solar heater are painted, you may need to paint them regularly to avoid corrosion.

Occasionally, leakages may occur over time. These leakages can be fixed by local plumbers.

Related article: How To Find a Good Plumber?

Conclusion

Solar water heaters are a win-win for users. They are incredibly environment-friendly and save you thousands in utility bills. Similarly, renewable energy seems to be the future of technology. It makes a lot of economic sense to go with this exciting new trend.

Additionally, solar water heaters are easy to install. Although, you should probably know that the cost of buying a new one and installing it is quite steep. They are also highly durable. They have an extended lifespan of more than ten years, even with constant usage.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, are also a fantastic innovation. The ones that reduce your electricity consumption rates drastically are a huge help. If your goal is to spend less than the amount you are currently paying to heat water, then heat pumps are perfect for you.

There are no two ways about it. Heat pumps are highly expensive. However, they are a cost-effective option that will pay you huge dividends over a long period.

Finally, both heat pumps and solar water heater are excellent alternatives to your conventional water heaters. You really can’t go wrong with either one.