Best Solar Water Heaters of 2020 – Complete Round-up

| Last Updated: September 7, 2020

Solar water heaters are a very convenient way of saving energy and also heating your home.

They are cost-effective, renewable, and come in a wide variety of different designs.

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If you’re looking for a cheap, effective method of heating your home, then keep on reading.

Comparison Chart of the Best Solar Water Heaters

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Complete 2 Panel Hybrid Solar Water Heater Kit

  • Connects to gas or electric heater
  • Reduces gas or electricity bills
  • Operates on a hybrid system
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Duda Solar SUS304

  • Efficient at absorbing the sun’s heat by 93-96%
  • Has really high hailstone resistance
  • Comes with a pressurized tank for indoor water supply
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Complete System - 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater

  • Best for the money
  • Comes with high-quality insulation for heat retention
  • No pumps or moving parts needed
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Ruud Solar Thermosyphon

  • Best Ruud solar water heater
  • Advanced sealed design for better operation
  • Extremely durable and resistant to harsh climates
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Duda Solar 20 Tube Water Heater

  • Best solar tankless water heater
  • Absorbs sun efficiently by 93-96%
  • Winter resistant technology and features 14mm copper heating pipes
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SolPak 120 Gallon Electric Solar Water Heater

  • Best Rheem Solar Water Heater
  • Adjustable speed pump for more convenience
  • Comes in three different sizes
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SW-38 Solar Water Heater Panels

  • Best small solar water heater
  • Every panel weighs about 12 pounds each
  • Each panel can hold up to 6 gallons of water
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What is a Solar Water Heater?

As the name suggests, a solar water heater uses the energy from sunlight to convert it to heated water. It captures the sun's rays and transforms them into heat so they can be used as a heater for your home. It is an economical and renewable form of energy that uses a thermal collector to gather sunlight and convert it into energy.

They can be heated directly or by using light-concentrated mirrors. These heaters come in active or passive forms and only use water and a working fluid to operate. Some solar heaters, however, are hybrids with gas or electric heaters.

How Does a Solar Water Heater Work?

Solar water heaters function by transferring the heat or energy collected from the sun to a tank. This is done using a separate circuit and heat exchanger. The heat the panel collects from the sun is used to heat up the water in an effective manner and it then flows through a circuit of pipes in a copper coil inside the tank that stores the hot water. They come in a wide variety of designs and styles, and their functionality depends on the type of collector and circulation system installed in them. 

How to Choose a Solar Water Heater

Now that you have some knowledge of how a solar water heater functions, let’s go over the main features you should consider before choosing one. There are many different types to choose from, so you need to decide which one suits you the most.

Capacity

You have to choose a solar water heater that meets your daily demand for hot water. If you have a large family that uses at least a 1000 gallons of heated water per day, then you need to get a bigger solar water heater with a larger storage capacity.

Easily Usable

You also have to check whether the solar water heater is a hassle to install on the roof  or is too complex for you to not understand. The design should be low-maintenance and should be able to be set up quickly and easily so you do not have to face any difficulties later on.

Longevity and Durability

Since solar water heaters are placed outdoors, they face a lot of abuse at the hands of climate changes and weather conditions. For these reasons, you need to find a unit that can withstand these harsh conditions and is built with high-quality materials that are not only durable but also safe to use.

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Quick Take: Best Solar Water Heaters

Review of the Best Solar Water Heaters  

Now that you’ve gone over the main features, let’s look at reviews of some of the best solar water heaters you will find in the market.

2 Panel Standard SW-38 Hybrid Solar Water Heater Kit- Single Row Installation

PROS

  • Easy to install and set up
  • Simple and minimalistic design
  • High heat retention for longer usage
  • System is perfect for generating hot water
  • The performance is impeccable considering it is powered by the sun

CONS

  • Not plug and play
  • Controlling the system is quite complex
  • Does not work with non-metallic water heaters

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users found this heater to be really easy to install and a breeze to set up. It generates hot water smoothly and is a great alternative to regular heaters, as it gives the same performance while slashing down your electricity bills. It is also really simplistic in design and easy to understand.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This heater does not need any external installation or multi-panels/pipes. It is easy to set it up instantly and there is no grid connection required. The performance of this heater is also incredible and is quite fast and lasts for a long time. It uses improved solar technology to generate heat efficiently.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for an energy-conserving method of generating heat for your home, then this is the solar heater for you. It works on cloudy days as well and is a great alternative for more expensive heating systems. It is also versatile and can connect to an existing gas or electric heater in your home.

Bottom Line

If you don’t want to face the hassle of installing a huge solar heater and are looking for something simple and minimalistic, then do not hesitate to give this heater a shot. Not only is it a renewable method of generating heat, but it is also cheaper and more effective.

Duda Solar 150 Liter SUS304 Passive Water Heater Attached Pressurized Tank Evacuated Tubes Hot

PROS

  • Generates piping-hot water in no time
  • Works amazingly whether it's rainy or cloudy
  • Water passing through the pipes is also safe for cooking
  • Inner coating of pipes is made with food-grade stainless steel
  • Prevents any bacteria or harmful microorganisms from entering the home and body

CONS

  • Unit is really heavy and bulky
  • Instructions for installation are unclear
  • Weight of the heater makes it harder to install

What Recent Buyers Report

Users loved this heater and found it quite useful for generating heat. It is effective in generating heat even on cloudy days and is easy to install on the rooftop, as well. It works efficiently and is safe to use for kitchen purposes, too.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This heater is engineered with the latest technology to ensure safe and hygienic water passes through the pipes. It also comes with five spare tubes and a warranty of three years. This heater also comes with a 40-gallon storage tank so you can heat up the water and store it for a long time.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great pressurized heater if you want to use heated water in your kitchen, as well. This is a multi-purpose unit that comes with a functional controller, so you can use it in any part of your home. It also comes with extra tubes and a storage tank for easier installation.

Bottom Line

By getting this heater, you will find the perfect unit for full-fledged use. It doesn’t come with solar panels only, but also a 40-gallon storage tank to store warm water for later usage and a functional controller to control the temperature of the water.

SRCC Certified 30% Tax Credit & Local Rebate Eligible - Complete System - 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater

PROS

  • Food-grade design for safer water
  • The heat retention is also quite high
  • Easy installation and a breeze to set it up
  • Works much better than a gas or electric heater
  • Capacity available is also 40 gallons, which is quite large

CONS

  • Doesn’t work in colder regions
  • Cost of the installation is quite high
  • The effectiveness depends on the climate

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a great-quality, excellent heater and provides amazing value for the money. Most users found it to be quite efficient and reliable and stated that the heat retention quality of this heater is fantastic. It is also easy to install and assemble.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is an amazing heater if you are looking for something that is affordable, yet works efficiently. It cuts the costs and guarantees a ten-year warranty, which means it can function for a long period of time. There are no maintenance costs for this heater as well, which is an added bonus.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the best heater for DIY users who live in small homes. It does not come with any frills, so it’s perfect for those who want a cost-effective and cheap method of heating their home. It is also perfect for users who live in a place where there is a lot of sunlight.

Bottom Line

If you’re on the hunt for a cost-effective and efficient means of generating heat in your home, then this is the solar panel heater for you. Not only is it cheap, but it is made with high-quality materials and comes with a ten-year warranty, making it one of the best starter kits for solar heating.

Best Ruud Solar Water Heater:
 Ruud Solar Thermosyphon

PROS

  • Magnesium rod installed for added protection
  • Easy set-up and installation on any type of roof
  • Double insulation for higher performance and minimum heat loss
  • Anodized aluminum seal blocks out ultra-violet rays in humid climates
  • High-quality design which works against corrosion and interior clogging

CONS

  • Direct systems can’t be used in hard water areas
  • Freezing areas can not find a use out of this solar panel heater
  • It must be installed above a collector array, which can be impossible for some homes

What Recent Buyers Report

This is an amazing solar water heater that comes with many advanced features and qualities to make it stand out. Not only is it easy to install and set up on the roof, but it lacks all the complex parts, which makes it easier to maintain the heater and use it for longer periods of time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason this heater stands out is because of its innovative technology and advanced features. They are created and tested to supply water at a much higher pressure than standard heating systems and the sealed jacket around the storage tank helps for smoother operation in freezing conditions.

Who Will Use This Most

This is an amazing unit which can be used in all types of climates and weather conditions. However, because of its highly advanced technology such as interior protection and anti-freeze system, this is a perfect solar water heater for areas where there’s a lot of snow and harsh winter weather conditions.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a safe, effective, and highly advanced heating system, then this solar water heater is the best option for you. It is versatile, can be incorporated in any building, and provides a visually appealing look to the building, as well. Overall, it is a highly efficient and high-quality solar water heater.

Best Solar Tankless Water Heater:
 Duda Solar 20-Tube Water Heater

Duda Solar 20 Tube Water Heater Collector 37° Frame Evacuated Vacuum Tubes SRCC Certified Hot

PROS

  • Works smoothly in winters and snow
  • Comes with additional tap water heating
  • High-quality materials used in its manufacture
  • Converts solar rays into thermal energy by 96% efficiency
  • Reliable insulation of the tubes for efficient conversion of solar rays

CONS

  • Quality of paint on the heater is not that great
  • It doesn’t supply a lot of heated water as needed
  • Not easily integrated through a home plumbing system

What Recent Buyers Report

This system is easy to install and set up and is very efficient in heating water. It is hailstone resistant as well, and the 45-degree tube makes it much easier for the heater to absorb the sun’s rays and warm the water up. It is also SRCC-certified, which means it is tax-exempt.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This unit is not only easily installable, but also durable and resistant to harsh climates and challenging weather. It is made with high-quality materials that retain heat much better than flat panel collectors and work efficiently in cold weather. They also come with a unique 45-degree angle capability to obtain higher efficiencies and better sunlight.

Who Will Use This Most

This is one of the best solar heaters if you live in areas with unexpected weather conditions and need a reliable heater to resist those climates. If you are on the hunt for efficient solar panels that are compatible with most home systems, then this is the one for you.

Bottom Line

The water supply that comes from this solar panel is safe and efficient to use and the pipes are made with great-quality materials that ensure high heat absorption and conversion rates. It is a great option if you are looking for additional tap water heating, as well.

Best Rheem Solar Water Heater:
 SolPak 120-Gallon Electric Solar Water Heater

PROS

  • High-quality design and components
  • Easily installable and quick setup without any hassle
  • Black paint on the collector for better heat absorption
  • Rheem glass tank prevents corrosion and ensures durability
  • Equipped with a double-wall heat exchanger that comes with copper tubing

CONS

  • Warranty is only 6 years
  • Installation costs are really high
  • Plumbing services and maintenance are also high

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the users who purchased this solar water heater found it to be a versatile and multi-purpose unit that comes with many different features. It comes in different sizes as well, which is quite useful depending on the size of homes. Moreover, the speed pump is adjustable, and the design is really impeccable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason why this heater stands out is because of its great, quality components and efficient heating system. Not only is it effective in generating heat, but it is also SRCC-certified, which means that you are exempted from paying tax. It is also Energy Star certified.

Who Will Use This Most

Since the heater comes in different sizes, it can be used by many homes. If you’re looking for a multi-purpose heater that functions efficiently and generates heat quickly, then this is the one for you. It has lower energy consumption, easier installation, and promises to provide a new degree of comfort.

Bottom Line

If you’re on the hunt for the best solar water heater by Rheem, then do not hesitate to try this one out. It is designed with good-quality components and is equipped with Rheem glass tanks that ensure safety and durability. Overall, it is a great solar water heater that will not let you down.

Best Small Solar Water Heater:
SW-38 Solar Water Heater Panels

SW-38 Solar Water Heater Panels

PROS

  • Great for cabins or RVs
  • Made with high-quality, durable materials
  • Super-lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Low weight makes it easy to install on the roof
  • Affordable option for those who do not want to spend a lot on heating

CONS

  • The paint is very cheap acrylic
  • These units are not for passive systems
  • May be too small for extensive heating

What Recent Buyers Report

This is one of the best portable solar heaters you can find in the market. It is well-made with high-quality materials and has mounting tabs made for heavy-duty purposes that make it easier to install. Moreover, the customer service and craftsmanship of this heater are incredible.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a rugged solar panel heater that comes with a polycarbonate glazing, which makes it really sturdy for any application. It has high-quality insulation that is easy and fast to install without any soldering. It is also made with lightweight materials that make it easier to carry around.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the best kind of solar panel heater for smaller homes or cabins. It is also perfect for those who are traveling around in a recreational vehicle, or for a point-of-use system. It provides free hot water for use in your home and is versatile enough to work in different weather conditions.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a small and lightweight version of a bulky and huge solar panel heater, then this is the one for you. It heats up the water instantly using the sun’s energy and is a great option if you’re on the go in an RV, or you’re setting up a heater for a small cabin.

Pros and Cons of Solar Water Heaters

Before you decide to buy a solar water heater, it is very important that you go through the benefits and drawbacks of owning one, so you can be completely sure if getting a solar water heater is right for you.

Pros

Let’s dive into the pros of owning a solar water heater first:

Cost-Effectiveness

One of the biggest advantages you will receive when buying a solar water heater is the drastic fall in the monthly costs of your electricity bills. Since solar panels reduce the electricity or gas bill by 50-80%, you can find yourself saving money while also reaping the benefits of free hot water.

Less Maintenance

Another benefit you can get from owning a solar water heater is that they require little to no maintenance. You may need to get the panels inspected for safety by a contractor every few years, but there is less active maintenance, and with proper installation, they can last for more than 20 years.

Environmentally Friendly

Not only is the solar panel heating option friendly for your pocket, but it is also great for the environment, as well. Since solar energy is renewable, there are zero emissions, and it is completely harmless for the surroundings.

Cons

Let’s go over the drawback of owning a solar water heater:

Installation Costs

When you purchase a solar water heater, the upfront charges of installation and setting up are initially quite high. If your heater isn’t SRCC certified, you may also have to pay additional taxes.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article was informative enough to help you make a thorough decision about which solar water heater is best for you. There are many things you must consider before installing one, but overall, it has more benefits than drawbacks, both for the environment and for you.

People Also Ask

If you still have some ambiguities and concerns that need to be resolved, you can go over this extensive Q&A session that may help in clearing some of your doubts. Let’s go over some of the frequently asked questions that many customers have:

How Effective Are Solar Water Heaters?

Solar water heaters are able to convert up to 70 percent of the sun’s energy into heat, which makes it quite efficient and effective in warming up the water. They are also a worthy investment since they drop the electricity bills up to 80%, which makes quite a difference.

Who Invented the Solar Water Heater?

The first solar water heater was invented in 1981, by a man named Clarence M. Kemp. It was the world’s first-ever commercial solar heater and was basically a black tank filled with water inside an insulated box. There was a glass side on the box so that the water could be heated.

Do Solar Water Heaters Work at Night?

Yes, solar waters indeed function at night time, as well. During the day, they store the heated water in an insulated tank, which can be used for later. The heater collects the solar radiation and that keeps the water piping hot all night.

How Long Do Solar Water Heaters Last?

The standard lifetime for a solar water heater is typically a span of ten years, and that is the maximum warranty you will receive on a solar water heater. However, with proper installation and maintenance, these heaters can last up to a whopping 25 years or more. 

Do Solar Hot Water Heaters Work in Winter?

Yes, solar water heaters do work in the winter, but they do not generate as much hot water as they can on sunny days. Most of the solar water heaters have freeze systems installed so that the snow melts and slides off your roof.

How Hot Can Solar Water Heater Get?

Water that is heated using the sun’s energy can heat up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit if the weather is really humid and hot. However, the standard or normal temperature that most domestic households obtain is 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be easily achieved, even on cloudy days.

Do Solar Panels Work When Raining?

Yes! Solar panels can absolutely work, even in the rain. They are still able to generate electricity and operate efficiently. Panels produce the most heat when the day is sunny, but that doesn’t mean they stop working if the weather changes. Light is still visible, even on cloudy or rainy days.

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My name is Bob Wells and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs. Find more info about me and HVAC Training 101.