China’s Solar Roof Water Heaters

Solar water heaters are one of the most affordable ways that a household can generate hot water year round.  These solar water heaters can be seen on the roofs of many of the homes throughout China.

Solar Water Heater

Photo by {link:}Solar Choice{/link}.

Besides the attractive feature of paying no cost for your yearly water energy consumption, the cost of one of these systems is priced at only a few hundred US dollars.  That cost can be recouped by the average house in as little as a few years.  It’s no surprise then that nearly 10% of all homes in China currently have a unit on their roofs along with a high year growth rate.

Solar Water Heater on Roofs

Photo by {link:}leondznanjing{/link}.

The biggest question I have is why systems like these become more popular in other countries trying to switch to renewable energy?

What is confusing is that China has found a way to have an affordable price for these units and make them commonplace in China.  It’s very rare to see a unit like this in America.  I know we are now picking up on tankless water heaters, but it’s still a mystery as to why these units haven’t become more popular.  Or is it?

As compared to China, units in America are priced in the thousands.  Even with tax credits, they are still priced much higher than a comparable system you would find in China.  What also could be a factor is the fact that we live in much larger homes as compared to China.  Many of the residents live in smaller city apartments and the idea of “Suburbs” don’t exist.

Imagine if more countries could offer these systems at affordable prices like China has.  They would be immensely popular since it would help dramatically lower our energy costs while cutting carbon emissions.

What are you thoughts?  Would you buy a solar roof water heater if the priced dropped down?

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    • Lauralee Hensley
    • August 11th, 2010

    If the price was right, yes I would.
    However we have building convenants where I live
    and I don’t know if they’d allow these.
    They are super picky about even solar panels being
    able to be seen from the front yards of the homes,
    and if you live on a corner lot like ours is, they
    really give you a hard time because the back of
    your home is easily seen too.

  1. I like the working of it. This system catches the sun’s warmth and transfers that warmth to the water you use in your home. There are two primary methods of producing solar hot water. I hope i can afford it plz let me know its cost.

      • Agency London
      • August 16th, 2010

      The Chinese Ministry of Finance released a statement in March 2009, stating that solar projects larger than 50kW of output will be eligible for a subsidy of about $2.93 per watt. To be eligible for subsidies, mono-crystalline silicon based panels will have to have efficiencies greater than 16%, multi-crystalline greater than 14%, and thin film greater than 6%. The efficiencies required for mono-and multi-crystalline silicon cells are not bad, but the low 6% for thin film appears to be an effort to evince that the industry in China is looking to take the lead in solar manufacturing.17

  2. My father bought one of these (perhaps older version and a little bit smaller than this) few years ago. In my country, Malaysia, it is selling at the price of RM1700+ which is around USD550. It had been repaired for several times. Yet, I’m not sure whether it does save us money or not. It’s way too expensive for people like me who staying in “not so advanced” country.

    As for me, unless the price drop below USD200, or else it doesn’t worth it. (It’s just my opinion) =)

  3. I think for the most part it would also depend on what part of the country you are in, I mean most of the USA gets snow… so can these things handle snow and winter around them? For a better price and long run solution I would switch, if it was hassle free.

    Till then,


      • Agency London
      • August 16th, 2010

      Experts project that by 2010 the number of solar water heaters installed in China will equal the thermal equivalent of the electrical capacity of 40 large nuclear power plants. Globally, solar water heaters have the capacity to produce as much energy as more than 140 nukes.

  4. While these solar water heaters are great for the environment, they still essentially seem like the poor man’s option. Richer people demand the convenience of always having plenty of hot water available regardless of how the weather is. I couldn’t imagine a full family trying to take their morning showers with one of these water heaters. And yes they do look quite hideous. Most people in western countries would not want a big shiny water heater propped up on their roof. These things wouldn’t catch on worldwide unless they looked nicer and were affordable for everyone.

      • Pays to Live Green
      • August 13th, 2010

      These solar heaters are much better with heat than you would think. We stayed with her relatives in a fairly small apartment and the water was always hot. That may be because it is the summer, but some of the material I was reading stated that they still provided lots of hot water during the winter months.

      On your other point of appearance, if everybody had one on their home they would seem a lot more appealing. I don’t think they look bad, in fact I get excited whenever I see things like this on their homes. I think as a society, we need to get over what looks good and start worrying more about our future. This is why we have so many wasteful things because they “look good”.

      Please don’t take this as me directing this solely towards you since lots of Americans feel the same way as you. We just need to rethink our priorities are starting thinking about what is better for the environment.

      • Sure they could probably supply the hot water demand for a small apartment in a warm climate. I just don’t think it would be suitable for other conditions such as larger families or colder climates.

        As for appearance, did you look at your blogpost photo? It looks horrendous to see all those metal contraptions littering the roof with hoses hanging down everywhere. To the hardcore environmentalist they look appealing, but to everyone else, they are an eyesore.

        It’s not that I’m against this technology. I just don’t see it thriving in any western cultures. We are a materialistic society and it is not reasonable to expect that to change anytime soon.

  5. This seems like it could work maybe someone can bring it to America and sell it for a cheap price. This way everyone would buy it.

    • I agree with Bidet that these Solar Roof Water Heaters can lower down the electric bill every month. But on a general scale, you are also helping the earth in many aspects. Hope more home gadgets and appliances will use the same mechanism and make them accessible to all for a better world.

    • Agency London
    • August 16th, 2010

    Nonetheless, even though the subsidy program is depicted as “temporary,” it is certainly stimulating, motivating the solar industry to build up its domestic market in China.

  6. The great thing regarding a solar hot water heater is always that the heat it uses from the sun’s rays won’t be converted into electrical power like photovoltaic panels, which is good for efficiency and your electricity bill each month.

  7. I think it’s very nice to see so many are adopting solar powered water heaters in China. Their weather stays sunny most of the year so it’s a very practical solution for sure.

  8. Looks like a good idea. If the price was right with a design to appeal to American tastes, I’d sign-up for one.

    • Bert
    • April 1st, 2011

    These systems are great. The one shown is not suitable for cold climates but other designs are adapted to cold climates. They can also be designed to supply very hot water and in great quantities. The price will drop when demand increases. Actaully they are beautiful and not an eyesore. Remember the automobile had many objections when it was first introduced…too noisy, too fast, too dangerous. We have to get beyond this picky nonsense and start thinking of the well being of our planet.

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