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Installing and Maintaining the System

The proper installation of solar water heaters depends on many factors. These factors include solar resource, climate, local building code requirements, and safety issues; therefore, it's best to have a qualified, solar thermal systems contractor install your system.

After installation, properly maintaining your system will keep it running smoothly. Passive systems don't require much maintenance. For active systems, discuss the maintenance requirements with your system provider, and consult the system's owner's manual. Plumbing and other conventional water heating components require the same maintenance as conventional systems. Glazing may need to be cleaned in dry climates where rainwater doesn't provide a natural rinse.

Regular maintenance on simple systems can be as infrequent as every 3–5 years, preferably by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part after or two after 10 years. For more information about system maintenance, see the following:

  • Solar Water Heating System Maintenance and Repair
  • Solar Water Heating System Freeze Protection
  • Scaling and Corrosion in Solar Water Heating Systems

When screening potential contractors for installation and/or maintenance, ask the following questions:

  • Does your company have experience installing and maintaining solar water heating systems?
    Choose a company that has experience installing the type of system you want and servicing the applications you select.
  • How many years of experience does your company have with solar heating installation and maintenance?
    The more experience the better. Request a list of past customers who can provide references.
  • Is your company licensed or certified?
    Having a valid plumber's and/or solar contractor's license is required in some states. Contact your city and county for more information. Confirm licensing with your state's contractor licensing board. The licensing board can also tell you about any complaints against state-licensed contractors.

For contractor information, see the Professional Services resources listed on the right side of this page (or below if you've printed it out).

Improving Energy Efficiency

After your water heater is properly installed and maintained, try some additional energy-saving strategies to help lower your water heating bills, especially if you require a back-up system. Some energy-saving devices and systems are more cost-effective to install with the water heater.

Other Water Heater Options

  • Conventional storage water heaters
  • Demand water heaters
  • Heat pump water heaters
  • Tankless coil and indirect water heaters

Learn More

Evaluation Tools

  • Solar Benefits Model
    DOE Building Energy Software Tools Directory
  • Solar Water Heating Project Model
    RETScreen International

Financing & Incentives

  • Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy

Product Information

  • Approved Solar Energy Systems
    Florida Solar Energy Center
  • Certified Solar Collectors and Systems
    Solar Rating and Certification Corporation

Professional Services

  • Solar Energy Industries Association

Department of Energy Resources

  • Million Solar Roofs

State & Local Resources

  • State Chapters
    Solar Energy Industries Association

Related Links

  • Solar Water Heating
    Florida Solar Energy Center

Reading List

  • The Borrower's Guide to Financing Solar Energy Systems: A Federal Overview (PDF 501 KB). (September 1998). U.S. Department of Energy. This booklet provides an extensive overview of government-authorized special financing programs available to consumers interested in installing solar energy systems for heat and electricity.
  • Heat Your Water with the Sun (PDF 603 KB). (December 2003). DOE/GO-102003-1824. U.S. Department of Energy.

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