Are solar panels a viable replacement for propane heating?

Asked by par
Mountain View, CA

I am looking at installing solar panels for electricity in my 10-acre inland Monterey, CA, home. Is it feasible to at the same time replace the water heater for multiple small electrical tankless heaters, or does this not make sense? I love radiant floor heat -- could I use my electrical solar power to heat my floors as well? And, if yes, what are the considerations i should know about? I am less concerned about installation costs and more concerned about operating costs and reliability. I would purchase and size my solar panels with the goal of using them for as much of my energy needs as possible, including a possible electrical vehicle.


Lee Hall

Answered by Lee Hall

Allen, TX

Sustainable Structures of Texas

August 29, 2010

Solar water heating is accomplished with solar collectors and generally requires a mixing tank to cool the water.

  • These collector panels are less expensive than the photovoltaic (PV) panels required to produce electricity.
  • The expense of solar water comes from the mixing tank and in the back-up system for long periods of "no sun" to keep up with your demand (maybe not a problem in sunny California).

Hot water circulated in your floor is a great solution to your love for floor heat. Many flooring manufacturers have these radiant heat pipe systems already designed for you.

If you are serious about generating electricity, the photovoltaic panel system would be a completely different system.

For more information:

Read Paul Rosen's Q&A "Can you tell me how well solar hot-water heaters work?"

Also, check Connie McCullah's Q&A "Can I switch to solar-heated water in my radiant heat system?"

Tagged In: solar panels, solar water heater

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