Solar Hot Water

In the 1890s solar water heaters were being used all over the United States. There simple uses proved to be a big improvement over wood and coal-burning stoves. Artificial gas made from coal was available too to heat water, but it cost 10 times the price for natural gas today. And electricity was even more expensive. Many homes used solar heating. In 1897, 30 percent of the homes in Pasadena, became solar homes because they were equipped with solar water heaters.

As mechanical improvements were made, solar systems were used in Arizona, Florida and many other sunny parts of the United States. Solar water heaters were installed on the front roof of many houses in Pomona Valley, California, in 1911 (the panels are circled above the four windows). By 1920, ten of thousands of solar water heaters had been sold due to increased solar heater uses. By then, however, large deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered in the western United States. As these low cost fuels became available, solar water systems began to be replaced with heaters burning fossil fuels. Today, solar water heaters are making a comeback.

There are more than half a million of solar heaters in California alone! They heat water for inside use in homes and businesses. Solar heaters composed of Physically connected collection of modules panels that contain water pipes. When solar energy hits the panels and the pipes, the sunlight warms them. That warmed water can then be used in a swimming pool.


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