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Can You Run a Tankless Water Heater on Solar?


It is no secret that most households require hot water. Fortunately, there are various ways of ensuring a constant hot water supply in your home; one of them is a tankless water heater.

Whereas that’s obvious to one of them, the options for powering them are a mystery to most people. For instance, can you run a tankless water heater on solar?

After all, solar is a non-renewable source that conserves the environment and saves money, among other benefits. So, let’s see if it is an option.

The piece also tackles more about the tankless water heater and much more. So, let’s get started;

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

The name preempts what to expect when dealing with a tankless water heater to a great extent. Unlike a conventional water heating system, this heater doesn’t need a tank to function efficiently.

Its traditional counterparts have large tanks where they store water upon being heated. Therefore, the system heats a large amount of water and makes it available to people who need it.

On the other hand, a tankless water heater only heats the amount of water one needs at any given time. That’s why people also refer to it as an on-demand water heater.

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What about a look at how it works to understand it better?

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Works?

The working mechanism of a tankless water heater follows these steps;

The Water Will Enter the Tankless Water Heater

Upon turning the washing machine, shower, or other hot water taps, water starts flowing into the tankless water heater system. The flow of that incoming doesn’t go undetected by a sensor that’s part of the system.

After detecting the flow, it signals its heating element to produce hot water. If you have a gas tankless water heater, its central control panel will open the valve, thus fueling the burner.

On the other hand, electric tankless water heaters have an electric heating element. So, upon the trigger, its control panel turns the element on.

The Water Flows Through a Heat Exchanger

The purpose of flowing through the heat exchanger is for the heating element to heat the cold water flowing through it. In most cases, the heat exchanger is a copper tubing coil.

Its role is to absorb heat from the electric current or gas burner and transfer it to the water flowing through it.

Adjusting the Water Temperatures Accordingly

You don’t need to worry about pressure and temperature when using a tankless water heater. That’s because of the various controls that allow these adjustments per your preferences.

For example, electric tankless water heaters have water and mixing valves. The gas counterparts have a gas valve.

After passing the heat exchanger, a temperature sensor will also detect how hot the water is. The controls adjust the temperature when they detect it is too high.

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Hot Water Starts Flowing Out of the Water Heater

Now this is what you have been waiting for, and hot water starts flowing. It could be from your showerhead or faucet, depending on the need at that particular time.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Compatible with Solar

For most people, there are two types of tankless water heaters. The options are gas and electric tankless water heaters. Here’s a breakdown of the types;

Gas Tankless Water Heaters

As the name suggests, the tankless water heater gets its power from gas. It is critical to mention that it isn’t as advantageous as its electric counterpart.

The only notable advantage is its durability. Most gas tankless water heaters live way longer than electric ones.

However, it is also usually preferred in extremely cold climates, especially if you one has a large property. It is efficient enough to supply hot water under such circumstances.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters

On the other hand, people have several reasons to consider electric tankless water heaters. Some of its benefits include the following;

  • Huge versatility
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Quiet operation
  • High efficiency
  • Environmentally friendly due to lack of immense greenhouse emissions
  • You can power your electric tankless water heater with your solar system

So, Can I Run My Tankless Water Heater on Solar

The answer is quite intriguing. After all, it is yes and no because it depends on the heater at hand.

If you own a gas tankless water heater, it is impossible to run it on solar. However, that’s a different case if you own an electric tankless heater.

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Connecting a tankless water heater to your solar system will cost you a lot of money, but it is worth every penny. After all, its benefits exceed that initial cost.

As soon as you install it, you save a lot of money since your electricity bill decreases drastically. Equally important, it is convenient since you get hot water even during power outages if you have batteries to store solar energy.

What is the Best Size for a Tankless Water Heater

Pointing out an exact size would be unfair for obvious reasons. After all, the amount of hot water a household needs may be different from the needs of another.

However, the hot water appliances you use in your home can help you determine an appropriate size. Identifying the appliances ensure that you choose the most appropriate gallon per minute (GPM) rating.

In most cases, the range is from 2 to 12 GPM. On average, most homes use between 5 and 10 GPM.

Remember to choose a size that can supply your household’s hot water. Different appliances have varying GPMs, and here are averages of the common ones;

  • Bathtubs flow rates are 5.5 GPM on average
  • Dishwasher flow rates are 2 GPM on average
  • Kitchen sink flow rates are 2.5 GPM on average
  • Showerhead flow rates are 2.5 GPM on average
  • Washing machine flow rates are 4 GPM on average

That’s a good place to start. Since you know the appliances you have in your house, calculate their total GPM to determine the most appropriate size in your case.

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