Solar Hot Water Systems

Hot Water Created by Solar

Disadvantages of Solar Hot Water Systems

Regardless of where you live, the sun doesn't always shine. When it is dark, no solar energy is available. That poses one of the biggest disadvantages of solar hot water systems. There are some areas, such as in Alaska, where the sun shines most of the time during the summer months, but almost never shines during the winter months. They have 82 days in a row with no sunset, but they also have 67 days in the winter when the sun doesn't shine. A solar system in Alaska would be very productive in the summer and would have very little, if any production during the winter. 

Very little solar energy is present when it is overcast, or cloudy. As a result, a secondary heating source would still be needed when water in the holding container starts to drop below a specified temperature. Another disadvantage of a solar hot water system is that solar hot water systems need a larger storage tank than conventional hot water heaters, since the temperature of the solar collector is lower than a typical gas hot water heater.

During winter months, it gets too cold to pump water through a solar hot water heating system, thus inhibiting its use. Anything containing water could expand when it freezes, causing lines and other containers to burst, and cause leaks.

A solar hot water system will not work well when there are extended periods of cloudiness. Areas, such as Portland, OR, where it rains a lot and is cloudy, wouldn't be the best areas for a solar hot water system.


Regardless of where you live, you will experience some dark hours. Hot water will only be available with one of these systems during daytime hours.  Water will start to cool as the sun sets, and during the night time hours.

Although solar hot water heating systems can cut the overall household utility bill by 15-20%, these systems are awkward, and are not real efficient. There isn't a good storage tank that can maintain the hot temperature. You will still need another backup system for heating water during the hours the sun isn't shining. As we have seen, there definitely are disadvantages of a solar hot water system.


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