SOLAR HOT WATER
Switching to solar hot water can save you a lot of money as electric hot water systems use more power than most other household appliances. On average heating water accounts for between 30-35% of total energy used in a home. So reducing your hot water generation costs will have a significant impact on your overall electricity bill.
Depending on your roof’s orientation and water consumption, a Solar Hot Water System has the potential to reduce water heating costs by up to 95%.
If you have a SolarEdge solar power system you also have an option to install an energy diversion device, which diverts excess solar power to heat your water without the need to purchase a separate solar hot water system.
Solarpro started as a solar hot water company in 2009. We pride ourselves on our hot water installations and don’t cut corners. We only use copper piping (no cheap plastic) and 13mm wall pipe lagging to reduce heat loss. All pipework is installed in discrete pipe ducts or in the wall’s cavity where possible, and all exposed pipework on the roof is fitted in a special UV proof solar pipe lagging.
PV ENERGY USED TO HEAT THE WATER
Use your roof top solar to turn it’s excess electricity into hot water.
FLAT PLATE COLLECTORS
The collectors sit on the roof and the tank usually on the ground
A highly efficient solar hot water system, using clear tubes as collectors.
CLOSE COUPLED SYSTEM
A highly efficient system as it does not use electricity to pump the water.
Solar Energy Heating Hot Water
If you choose a SolarEdge system, we can configure it so that excess solar energy generated by your solar power array is diverted to heat your water rather than being sent to the electricity grid.
Solarpro can either use your existing standard electric hot water tank or our plumbers can install a new electric tank. We then install a SolarEdge energy diverter to harvest excess solar energy and use it to heat your water.
The benefit is obvious, as instead of you earning small amounts for electricity exported to the grid during the day and paying larger amounts for the electricity to heat your water, you can now heat your water at a fraction of the cost.
Imagine your Electric Hot Water Tank like a storage battery and every time there is spare power from your solar system, instead of storing it in your battery, you send it to the Hot Water tank, and store the energy in the form of Hot Water.
For those who have gas hot water, Solarpro can also convert the gas hot water tank to an electric one. This way you have control over how you heat your water and have significantly reduced the cost.
SOLAR HOT WATER AT YOUR FINGERTIP
When we install the hot water diverter from SolarEdge, the product seamlessly integrates with the SolarEdge monitoring platform, letting you conveniently control water heating directly from your smartphone.
You can use one of several user-friendly modes to manually turn the device on/off, or switch to Timer or Scheduler operation. Excess solar can also be prioritised to the hot water device before other devices, ensuring your Hot Water generation benefits most from available solar energy.
Does Solar Hot Water Make Sense?
Before we begin, here are some abbreviations that we will use in this article:
PV = Solar Photovoltaic (Solar Electric) SHW = Solar Hot Water
We have installed a few Solar Hot Water systems, including both residential and commercial systems utilizing flat plate and evacuated tube collectors. However, we currently do not offer Solar Hot Water installations. The primary reason that we don’t offer solar hot water installation is due to the benefits that solar PV systems can offer as an alternative.
Net metering is a benefit available to PV in which any production over and above a customer’s usage is credited to that customer to use later. For SHW, any hot water produced that is not used within a reasonable amount of time is lost.
While a typical PV system has very few moving parts, and therefore very little long term maintenance, a SHW system has moving parts (pumps) that can fail. Also, a SHW system is circulating water or some type of fluid through pipes to the roof. This is an additional liability in the case of a component failure.
SHW: It is difficult and costly to estimate and monitor the benefit of SHW to a customer. Besides available sunshine, there are many variables involved including amount of hot water used, timing of hot water production vs. usage, and size and insulation of piping and storage tank.
PV: While available sunlight can vary from year to year, there are many tools that allow us to calculate closely what the production of the system should be. Due to this, we actually offers a 10 year performance guarantee for PV projects. Also, due to net-metering, the production vs. usage profile is not crucial as long as the kWh’s are used by the customer at some point in time throughout the year.
SHW can be a poor fit for some hot water applications, including hot water heating. This is due to the fact that the greatest production of hot water is in the summertime, but the greatest need for hot water is in the winter time. Thanks again to net metering, the seasonal difference of usage is not as crucial for PV, since overproduction of kWh’s in the summer can be a credit toward kWh’s used in the winter.
A typical 2-collector residential SHW system for a family of 4 would cost about 10,000. A typical water heater uses about 4,000-5,000 kWh of electricity per year, so if the SHW were to produce 75% of the household’s hot water, it would offset about 2,250-3,000 kWh’s/year.
A typical 7 kW PV system costs about 28,000. It would take about 2 kW to offset the same kWh usage as the SHW system above. If one were to add 2 kW to this 7 kW system, the additional cost would be about 6,000. To cover 100% of the electric usage for hot water, one would add about 3.6 kW; this would add about about 10,000 to the cost of the 7 kW system. When installing a PV array, adding a few more modules to cover your electricity usage related to hot water is an obvious choice over installing a SHW system.
Another viable option would be to install a heat pump water heater in conjunction with a PV system. A heat pump water heater would cost approximately 450,500-3,000 to install, but would only require about 1,200 kWh’s of electricity per year for 100% of the household hot water. Using our previous example of a 7 kW, it would cost about 3,600 to add the 0.9 kW required to produce electricity for hot water. The cost of the water heater plus the cost of the additional solar in this example would be about 6,600.
In these three examples, the SHW option would cost 10,000 to cover 75% of hot water needs; a PV system addition would cost 10,000 to cover 100% of hot water needs; and a heat pump water heater PV system addition would cost 6,600 to cover 100% of hot water needs.
The installation of a heat pump water heater is not eligible for the 26% Federal Tax Credit, but may be eligible for a 300 Federal Tax Credit.
It is important to note that the costs for PV are assuming increasing the size of the PV system that a customer is considering. In the case of the PV system only, the customer would install 9 kW or 10.6 kW instead of 7 kW; in the case of the heat pump water heater PV, the customer would install 7.9 kW instead of 7 kW.
SolarEdge Has Built The First Framework For The End-To-End Smart Home
SolarEdge was one of the early leaders in the solar inverter space and is now leveraging its mastery of the inverter to build out a comprehensive new plan for the Smart home of the future.
SolarEdge was one of the early leaders in the solar inverter space and is now leveraging its mastery of the inverter to build out a comprehensive new plan for the Smart home of the future.
I first met SolarEdge co-founder Lior Handelsman at the 2018 Energy Taiwan Expo where I unsuccessfully attempted to convince the king of solar inverters that micro-inverters were actually the future. SolarEdge had recently brought its own inverter-tied residential EV charger to the market that leveraged the capability of its existing grid-tied inverters for EV charging. At the time, the move seemed niche as consumers don’t typically specify what brand of inverter comes with their solar system, but are typically required to select an EV charger.
Fast forward one year, and SolarEdge’s vision for a complete Smart home ecosystem built around its inverter technology is more fleshed out. I sat down with Lior again at Solar Power International 2019 where he laid out SolarEdge’s plans to become the backbone of the cleantech home of the future building from its inverters on out into the home.
The Inverter as the Energy Manager for the Home
At its core, SolarEdge is an inverter company which may at first make its strategy to build the Smart home of the future around the inverter as its own egocentric bias playing out in the business strategy. That was my take on SolarEdge’s EV inverter-tied EV charger when I first saw it. It seemed like an interesting novelty and it was only when I stepped back from the product itself that I saw the bigger picture.
Flipping power from DC to AC and back is at the core of the self-sufficient renewable home of the future. The home itself uses AC power for most functions, yet photovoltaic solar panels produce DC power. Batteries similarly store DC power whether they live in a sonnen ecoLinx on the wall of the home or in the electric vehicle sitting in the garage. All of the power coming into and out of most homes is AC power which leaves us with a fragmented landscape of electricity generation, storage, and consumption.
Which brings me back to the inverter. The team at SolarEdge’s vision for the Smart home of the future wasn’t simply biased towards the inverter because that was their core competency. Rather, they built up a competency in inverters because of the potential they saw in the technology. Each time power is flipped from one to the other, power is lost. Optimizing the energy flow between all of the big producers, storage facilities, and consumers in the home can minimize the number of times that energy must be converted from AC to DC or DC to AC and that can make the overall system more efficient.
SolarEdge is working to leverage the inverters that are used in most rooftop solar systems to convert the incoming DC to AC that the home can use to not simply perform a conversion, but to intelligently decide where the power can be best used or stored. “You can optimize to the next level so if the battery is full, you can route energy from the sun to other appliances,” Lior said. For example, if the home does not immediately need the power coming out of the solar system, why not keep it as DC and send it to battery for storage?
SolarEdge is already doing this type of energy triage and is now moving beyond inverter-based units to the other energy hogs in a home. “We saw more and more of a need to optimize energy in the home for various things,” Lior told me. “The inverter is literally the energy manager for the home. You can control your AC or your heat pump or your pool pump or your hot water heater or your EV charger.” SolarEdge is extending the home energy management solutions it pioneered at the inverter level out into the rest of the home.
A new water heater module taps into the power feed for an electric hot water heater unit and allows homeowners to use excess solar generation to pre-heat water, effectively storing the energy in the tank instead of sending it back to the utility. Many utilities have less than favorable or non-existent net metering schemes that make sending power back to the utility a bad proposition, so the more power than can be used or stored in the home in one form or another, the better. HVAC units are similarly being tapped, and preheating or cooling the home with excess power instead of sending it back through the meter.
SolarEdge is now building Smart plugs and switches in a push that makes it clear it is working towards managing the entire energy profile of a home, from soup to nuts.
Virtual Power Plants
Home energy management is exciting for those of us who geek out on that kind of thing, but even for people who just want the lights to go on and off when they flip a switch, adding SolarEdge’s smarts adds value because everyone cares about cold hard cash.
Being able to see and control the entire electrical network of a home puts SolarEdge into a unique position when it comes to offering grid services to utilities. “It’s the segue for the next thing,” Lior said. “We already started to sell Virtual Power Plant software. We can offer not just the management of the battery and inverter, but the control of loads as part of the VPP. The utility doesn’t care if I turn off the EV charger for 15 minutes or dispatch energy from the battery for 15 minutes. As long as I take off the grid X number of kilowatts, they’re happy.”
If you didn’t catch it, Lior just did a proverbial mic drop and walked off stage. Building out an intelligent, connected electrical network in the home gives SolarEdge control over PV generation, energy storage, EV charging, hot water heating, HVAC, and the rest of the loads in the home. Control means they can throttle those loads up and down, and along with a bit of help from the solar and storage, that has the potential to add immense value to a utility.
For a single home, it’s not too much to write home about, but when you start talking about hundreds or thousands of homes in a city, the ability to throttle the combined load up and down or even the ability to push power from their respective energy storage units back to the grid starts to get exciting.
Intelligence is a Key Enabler
SolarEdge is a firm believer that it is the software that adds most of the value in the inverter. As we are increasingly seeing in the clean tech space, solutions are increasingly heavier on the software side of the equation than hardware. Batteries, inverters, and even electric car chargers are exciting, but adding a brain and an internet connection takes the potential to a completely different level.
“When we IPOd, I remember sitting with the market analyst and he was telling me that the thing that worried him the most was that inverters will become a commodity like modules,” Lior told me. “I tried to explain to him that it’s so much not that. Storage is coming, grid integration is coming, and home energy management and building energy management. Inverters are more software than hardware. There’s so much value to unlock still that I don’t think inverters are going to be a commodity anytime soon.”
Lior believes that not only is the software in his inverters a key strength, it is necessary to increase the percentage of renewables on the grid. “The solar industry will not evolve without this, because of the intermittent nature of solar. Solar is already cheaper than everything else, but it’s still not one with the grid,” Lior told me. “These technologies are what is going to drive solar and make it one with the grid and allow for the growth of solar and allow solar to become the energy source.”
I pushed him about wind and he was very blunt about his perspective on wind. Wind is a finite resource that can only truly be tapped at scale in a handful of locations around the world. “It’s not like you can put wind [generation] everywhere,” he said. Cheap, easy onshore wind has already largely been tapped. It will continue to be refined, with increased efficiencies, larger turbines, and the like, but it is still limited in terms of the size of utility scale wind. Developers are already starting to migrate to more expensive offshore and floating wind generation, but profits tail off and even these are limited by the natural conditions.
Solar, on the other hand, can be put anywhere the sun shines. Thankfully, that’s just about everywhere (though we’re keeping a close eye on the Pacific Northwest, where the sun is known to go into hiding for far too many weeks at a time). “The potential of solar, just on rooftops, is not finite, but it’s so much more than we need,” Lior said. “40 years from now, mankind is running mostly on solar.”
SolarEdge continues to push the world forward into a newer, more renewable energy mix. The technology the company put on display at this year’s Solar Power International has me thinking and rethinking about new opportunities in the home to bring the future we all want that much sooner.
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The SolarEdge power optimizer is a DC / DC converter that is connected to each panel by installers, or integrated by panel manufacturers with the power optimizer replacing the junction box. The SolarEdge power optimizers increase the energy output of PV systems by continuously tracking the Maximum Power Point (MPP) of each panel individually. In addition, the power optimizers monitor the performance of each panel and communicate the performance data to the SolarEdge monitoring platform for enhanced, cost-effective panel-level maintenance.
Each power optimizer is equipped with the unique SafeDC ™ mechanism that automatically switches the DC voltage from the panel to a lower level when the inverter or grid power is disconnected.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) per panel allows flexible installation design with multiple orientations, tilt angles and panel types in the same string. SolarEdge power optimizers in combination with SolarEdge inverters automatically maintain a fixed string voltage, offering installers even more flexibility with longer strings and strings of different lengths in order to design optimal PV systems. The SolarEdge power optimizers are compatible with c-Si and thin film panels and have a 25-year warranty.
Use SolarEdge’s free online monitoring portal to view real-time system performance and receive system alerts. Easy access from mobile devices anytime, anywhere.
Increase your use of solar energy with the Smart home automation devices by using excess PV power produced for heat pumps, pool pumps, water heaters, lighting or other household appliances. Enjoy more comfort thanks to automatic “on-the-go” control of your Smart devices.
Install the SolarEdge home automation devices to further increase your solar energy consumption and enjoy more comfort. Save on energy costs for heating water by using SolarEdge’s electric water heater control, which transfers excess PV power directly to the water heater for family hot water. Control your home appliances remotely with your smartphone via our online monitoring portal thanks to SolarEdge Smart plugs and switches.
The StorEdge ™ system is designed to maximize your self-consumption of solar energy and become energy independent. Unused solar energy is stored directly in compatible LG Chem DC home batteries to increase your energy independence. StorEdge is a DC-coupled storage management system that has a higher efficiency than AC-coupled systems.
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