Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to keep my conventional water heater?
No! Our system comes with a backup heating element so you can use it as your only water heater. If you do this, you will also need either our WiFi or hard wired controller. However, if you live in a cold climate, want more hot water capacity, or prefer to keep using gas as a backup, then you may want to install the Sunbank as a pre-heater to your conventional water heater.
Can I use this with a tankless or on demand water heater?
It’s worth mentioning that when comparing a tankless system to a solar water heater, from an economical perspective there is almost no comparison. Tankless water heaters are relatively expensive to install, so while they may cost the same as a solar water heater they still burn gas or consume electricity and are 75% less efficient than a solar water heater.
What if I'm on well water or have hard water?
If you’re on a well, our advise is to install a whole house reverse osmosis filtration system before installing a Sunbank. High mineral content water causes corrosion and will shorten the life of the tank. Installing a filter will help your entire plumbing system last longer.
Can I put in a second, longer magnesium anode?
Yes! If you have high mineral content water, or just want to protect your tank and not change your anode as frequently, this is a good idea. For our newer systems that have the side port on the bottom of the side of the tank (not the middle), you can use a 3/4″ brass coupling installed on the cold side port to install a 42″ rigid anode. For our older models or our newer models, you can install a flexible 42″ anode, also available at most hardware stores.
What if I'm off grid?
Then you’ve found the right system. This system works perfectly as an off grid solar water heater. Our system requires 0 kWh of electricity to function and you can use the system whenever you have hot water. Or, if you want to always have hot water or a place to store your excess electricity production, we have a 120V element option that you can use for that.
What if I use a lot of hot water at night?
That’s fine. The Sunbank solar water heater is installed in such a way that you always have hot water; either as a pre-heater to your existing water heater or as a stand-alone system with a backup electric heating element installed in the Sunbank. And the Sunbank tank is very well insulated. If you use a lot of hot water at night then you will use the heat stored in the Sunbank and then the backup heater will kick in for any hot water consumed in excess of the amount stored.
What happens to the temperature when I take a shower?
What if the water gets too hot, won't it burn me?
What is the water temperature first thing in the morning?
How do I keep it from freezing in the winter?
The Sunbank collector and tank are both protected from freezing by their insulation. The tank has 55mm of high density polyurethane insulation. The collector tubes each have a heat pipe which contain a small bit of anti-freeze solution in it. That, combined with the fact that the tubes are evacuated means they are freeze protected to -35° below zero.
External plumbing is the most vulnerable point for freezing. The first point here is that we recommend PEX tubing instead of copper as PEX tubing does not burst when frozen. Your PEX must be well insulated and for prolonged freezing temperatures should include thermostatic heat tape in the insulation bundle or a re-circulation pump with a timer set to run at 5 minute intervals during the night in the winter. The added benefit of the re-circulation pump is that you can also use it to deliver hot water instantly your shower. In the case of a power outage where these freeze protections fail, we recommend a freeze protection valve be installed as a last line of defense.
Why not 100% solar?
A year round 95% solar solution is possible in places that do not experience a significant winter, like Florida, parts of the South, the Southwest, coastal California, etc. Even so, we recommend that the system be installed with a controller and auxiliary heater for those times when there is excess demand and/or a long period of rainy weather.
What do I need to place one at my house?
The only thing you truly need is a place to put the Sunbank. Roof mount or ground mount, with a ground mount often being easier, avoiding roof penetrations and shorten the plumbing run. Preferable you would have a at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day and a relatively simple chase to your existing plumbing or existing water heater if pre-heating.
Will it work on a cloudy day?
The Sunbank works even on cloudy days, but it won’t produce nearly as much heat as it does in full sun.
Can I paint it?
Is there any maintenance needed?
The only maintenance needed is the replacement of the Magnesium anode which, depending on you water quality, is every 3-5 years. Although we recommend checking the anode after one year and basing future changes on how much of the anode remains.
Can I heat my pool with it?
Will I have to worry about snow sticking to it and piling up?
Would I have to cut down trees to put one in?
It is optimal to have at least 6 hours of full sun per day or more, but the Sunbank will still make valuable heat in indirect sun and if it only has direct sunlight for, say, 4 hours. Any solar energy you absorb is free and contributes to your savings.
Give us a call!
(888) 385 0005
2020 5th St #1713
Davis, CA 95616
©2011-2022 Sunbank Solar, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
80 Gallon Solar Water Heater $3,999 ($2,959 after tax credit)