Solar water heaters were cool in 1980s. They could be again.

Unlike pv panels, which can power your home, solar thermal panels are mainly used to heat water. But they’re smaller and more efficient.

In the early 198os, my dad installed a solar thermal panel on our roof in Florida. For a 5-year-old, the big black square looked like a portal into the future. The device, essentially a glass box with metal water pipes running through it, converted sunlight into hot water. By trapping solar energy like a greenhouse, it heated the water to a scorching 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

It furnished much of the hot water for a family of four. “We had no trouble with it,” my dad tells me. “It was still working when we sold the house 10 years later.”
But today, hardly anyone is using these solar water heaters even as photovoltaic (PV) panels have popped up on the roofs of nearly 4 million American homes.

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Source: The Washington Post

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