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SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED – The Hands-On Handbook 4 Solar Return on Investment 5 ESSENTIAL DETAIL


Sized Right Solar systems need both panels and hot


water storage tanks. A few general rules of thumb:





Install 20 sq. ft. (2 meters square) of panel for the fi rst two members of the household.


Look ahead. Estimate the total cost of the solar installation over time, side by side with the conventional costs. Because solar has a long expected lifespan, once the cost of the initial installation is paid off , it should actually ADD money to the bottom line. The chart above actually shows a solar PV case study, but the hot water data would follow a similar upward curve.


Here’s a handy spreadsheet tool for estimating solar payback: http://resourcemouse.blogspot. com/2010/01/spreadsheet-to-calculate-payback- time.html





In the U.S. Sun Belt, add 8 additional sq. ft. (0.7 meters square) for each additional person in the household.





For colder climates, add 12–14 sq. ft. (1.1–1.3 meters square) for each additional person in the household.


Still not sure? Compare alternative confi gurations such as heat pumps or on-demand hot water to solar. These systems are far more effi cient than an electric element heater, although they still burn fossil fuel and will never reach a point of positive return on investment, the way solar hot water can.





A 50- to 60-gallon tank is appropriate for homes with up to three people.





An 80-gallon tank is the appropriate size for a three- or four-person household.





Storage tanks ranging from 120- to 160-gallons are appropriate for larger households.


SMART MOVE Sun Bathing


One of the most cost-eff ective solar hot water applications is pool heating. A solar pool heater can be a simple tube system or fl at-panel system, as shown. Often, a solar heater can completely replace an energy-gulping electric heater. Solar pool heaters can greatly extend a pool’s useful season in some climates.


Here is a link to a solar pool heating calculator: www.fl asolar.com/php/pool_panels_entry.php


Story by Christina Birchfi eld Continued on next page


DATA: WWW.SOLARFEEDS.COM


PHOTO: HALEY MECHANICALS (NORITZ ON-DEMAND UNIT SHOWN)


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