10 Common Problems With Solar Hot Water Systems


Knowing solar water heater problems is important for efficient and cost-effective hot water.

Solar water heaters are an efficient source of hot water for daily use. However, it can be frustrating when you are in the shower with soap all over, and the water suddenly turns cold. Despite its eco-friendly and cost-effective benefits, it is also prone to multiple problems. But nothing to worry about. In this blog, we will address some common solar hot water system problems you might face and a few solutions to keep your system well-functioning.

What is a Solar Water Heater?

A solar water heater is an appliance that catches energy from the sun and converts it into heat with the help of solar panels. Later, this energy is transferred into the circulation pump to act and distribute the heat that heats the water in the storage tank. Solar heaters are completely safe and efficient sources of free energy equipped with pressure and temperature relief valves to regulate the pressure and temperature of the water. 

Now, let’s go through the common solar hot water system problems and discuss their solutions as well.

Common Problems With Solar Hot Water Systems

Below are some common solar water heater problems that the owners usually face:

1. Inefficient Production of Hot Water

Solar water heater

It sometimes happens that your heating system is functioning but doesn’t produce water. The primary cause of this problem is usually cloudy weather or a damaged solar panel glass that fails to generate sufficient solar energy. This insufficiency of solar heat results in the failure of the water heater to heat water inside the tank. Some other reasons for this could be a faulty thermostat, improper sensor wire connectivity, or trapped air in the pump collector.

2. Fluid Leaking

One of the common and significant issues of solar water heaters that you would face is fluid leakage. This problem generally occurs when system components like pipes, temperature, and pressure relief valves are damaged. Another likely reason for fluid leakage in the water heater could be the loose fitting of the pipes and valves.

4. Pump and Circulation Challenges

In solar hot water systems, a defective pump can cause insufficient water circulation. The occurrence of airlocks that disrupt the smooth flow of water is another issue that is typically associated with climatic factors. It can lead to a sudden rise in internal pressure, impeding the movement of heating fluid and water throughout the water system.

5. Unusual Noise in the Pump

One common problem with solar hot water is the loud and unpleasant noise. This unusual noise comes from the pump when the impellers get blocked from rotating by the residue build-up on the heater’s elements like the pump’s impeller. Some other possible causes are bearing failure due to incorrect pump installation and trapped air inside the system. However, over the years, solar hot water heaters with more efficient and optimized technology have seen a decline in such noisy sounds.

5. Solar Panel Problems

This is a common problem that most of the owners need to be careful of. One of the main causes of this issue is the broken glass of the solar panel. Damaged solar panels can cause solar collectors to be ineffective in catching the maximum solar energy.

When you notice a solar panel leakage, the probable cause could be a pipe burst due to freezing or extreme pressure within the system. Moreover, some other noteworthy reasons could be the erosion of the absorber paint or the condensation of the glass that can result in the ineffective performance of the panels.

You can also take a look at the 4 Advantages Of Solar Water Heater

6. Stinking Hot Water

Solar Water Heater

You can often face this problem with your solar water heater when the tank inside is not clean. This leads to an increase in the unhygienic bacteria in the tank which can cause the water to smell. Another reason could be the ineffectiveness of the anode rod, an element that is supposed to clean the dust and bacteria inside the heater.

7. Solar Hot Water Overheating

Solar hot water overheating is an issue that mainly happens due to a faulty thermostat or other heating elements or it could be due to the wrong setting or wrong temperature on the thermostat.

8. Malfunctioning due to Rust and Freezing

Rusting is a common issue you can face due to the continuous flow of water in the heater system which causes malfunctioning of the solar water heater. Freezing is another issue you could face due to irregular cleaning in excessively cold climates.

9. Sensor Issues

When temperature sensors that control a solar hot water system experience malfunctions, they can lead to water coming out of taps and showers at different temperatures. These malfunctions, whether due to defective temperature sensors or electronic control system glitches, can result in water being either excessively heated or heated enough.

10. Collector Efficiency Problems

Efficiency issues with the solar collector can arise when environmental obstructions block and prevent sunlight from reaching the solar panel PV cells. Tree debris, dust or bird droppings can all block energy absorption, making it a challenging task to achieve the desired water heating temperature. Similarly, the presence of tree shade can also reduce solar efficiency.

Also See: How to Check If Solar Hot Water is Working

Solar Hot Water Troubleshooting

Below are some solar water heater troubleshooting tips for you to follow before spending a good sum of money on a technician. But before doing anything, make sure you separate the solar panel.

1. No Hot Water

Solar Hot Water 1
  • Make sure your solar panels are perfectly placed in a location where they would acquire a good amount of solar energy.
  • Keep the solar panels clean by removing the dust, leaves, and other dirt to ensure their better functioning.
  • Inspect the sensor wires and thermostat for proper settings and replace them if found damaged.

Also See: Does a Solar Water Heater Work at Night?

2. Leakage Issues

Check the fitting of the pipes and tighten it if any loose connections are found and also replace the damaged pipes and temperature or pressure valve.

3. Noisy Pump

  • Try to loosen the vent screw to release the blocked air inside and clean the sediments or debris accumulated on the impellers inside the pump to prevent the noise from occurring.
  • For bearing failure, grease the bearing with a suitable oil. If the problem still continues then a pump replacement might be required or you may be required to put in a new solar hot water controller.

4. Solar Panels Issues

  • For broken or leaking solar panels, you are suggested to replace the broken glass or the whole solar panel.
  • Repainting the panels with heat and UV-resistant paint is necessary in case of coating or absorber paint erosion.
  • Making a small weep hole at the base of the panel is recommended to deal with the condensation problem on the solar glass.

Also, check out How to Turn Off a Solar Hot Water System

5. Stinking Hot Water

For smelling hot water the common solution to follow is to clean it regularly to avoid accumulation of dust and bacteria.

6. Overheating Troubles

Common Problems with Solar Hot Water 1

To solve the overheating issue, adjust the thermostat to your required temperature. However, if you still face the same issue then you would probably have to replace the thermostat and heating element.

7. Rust and Freezing Issues

  • Clean your heater frequently and keep it dry when not in use to keep it rust-free.
  • To avoid freezing, empty the pipes and collectors daily after use to ensure it doesn’t freeze in winter.

8. Sensor Problems

  • Inspect wires and cables for damage.
  • Check the sensor voltage and resistance with a multimeter.
  • Also, do calibration as outlined in the manufacturer’s guide.
  • Replace devices if they are defective.

9. Circulation Issues due to Defective Pump

  • To prevent circulation issues, remove air from pipes and clear deposits by flushing the system with water or vinegar.
  • Check for leaks or corrosion in pipes, joints, pumps, and valves.
  • Replace pumps if they become defective and can’t function effectively.

10. Collector Issues

  • To keep the collector working well, clean it with a soft cloth and water.
  • Inspect the device for damage.
  • Make sure it is not shaded by trees or buildings.
  • Place the water heater correctly for optimal sun exposure.

In the end, it is quite evident that understanding the common problems with solar hot water can help you troubleshoot some easy faults. Responsible use and frequent inspection are also suggested to prevent further damage to the system. For more informative solar content, keep reading our blogs.

Recommended: How to Become a Solar Panel Distributor: Roles, Opportunities and Benefits

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