2023 Solar Heating System Cost And Installation

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With technological advancements, people are now exploring alternative energy sources, and solar is one of the top choices.

The good thing about a solar heating system is that it is renewable; it is powered by natural sunlight.

To install a new heater, contact your local plumbers for FREE ESTIMATES!

Can You Heat Your House With Solar Panels?

Yes, you can heat your house with solar panels.

You just have to ensure that there are enough solar panels to produce sufficient heat for your home.

On average, homes install between 18 and 24 solar panels, each with a rating of 340 watts. This is usually enough to meet all the heating needs in a home.

It’s best to consult a professional so they can help you determine how many solar panels are enough for your home.

You don’t want too many solar panels because that would mean unnecessarily high upfront costs.

Neither do you want too few solar panels because you’ll have to return to the grid to supplement the system. You might even be forced to hire a professional to install additional panels.

If you want to heat your house using solar panels even in winter, ensure that your area supports net metering, which allows you to store excess power in your city’s grid.

You can use the stored power in months when there’s little to no sunlight. That way, you won’t have to pay for electricity regardless of weather conditions. 

The good thing about solar panels is that they significantly reduce your house heating bills.

They are also eco-friendly because they eliminate or reduce reliance on hazardous heating alternatives such as fossil fuel. 

Average Solar Heating System Cost 

The average cost of installing a solar heat system ranges between $12,000 and $30,000

Solar Heating Cost Breakdown 

The cost of solar energy is measured in dollars per watt.

A single watt can cost between $2.50 and $3.50.

Residential solar panels range between 3 kW and 8 kW and cost between $9,255 and $28,000

Installing a 6 kW solar system in a 1,500-square-foot home might need 15 to 18 solar panels, costing between $7,000 and $9,000 not counting labor.

Installers charge around 0.50 cents per watt. Therefore, the labor cost for a 6 kW solar system would be about $3,000.

Additional expenses, such as mountings, inverters, taxes, inspection fees, and local permit fees, cost around $6,000.

This brings the average cost of installing a solar heater system on a 1,500-square-foot home to between $16,000 and $18,000 (before tax incentives).

This amount could be significantly less if you claim the 30% tax incentive on solar panels. 

Expense Quantity Cost
Solar panels 18 to 20 $7,000-$9,000
Labor cost at $0.50 cents per watt 6 kW $3,000
Other expenses including inverters, mountings, inspection fees, local permits, etc. $6,000
Total $16,000-$18,000

Usually, people who live near the equator are likely to pay less than those who live in the north. 

Did you know? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2017 report on solar cost estimates that installing a solar system has dropped by more than 61% since 2010. And the price is still dropping year by year, thanks to the multiple solar initiatives such as tax incentives from the government.

How Does A Solar Heat System Work?

The working of a solar heating system is pretty straightforward.

The panels have collectors that harvest energy from the sun.

Inverters then convert this energy into electricity that you can use for various home applications such as water or space heating. 

Did you know? The amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface in one and a half hours is enough to power the entire planet for a year.

What Are The 2 Main Types of Solar Heating Systems?

The two main types of solar heating systems are passive solar heater systems and active solar heat systems.

The Main Differences Between Active And Passive Solar Heat 

Active solar systems are by far the most common.

They feature solar panels containing photovoltaic cells, tiny devices responsible for converting sunlight into electricity.

Active solar systems must utilize a substance to act as a conductor so heat and electricity can be stored and transmitted throughout the other parts of the system. Usually, this substance is air or liquid

Solar systems that use air as a conductor are called air collectors, which absorb solar energy through the air.

The ones that use a liquid as a conductor are called hydraulic conductors, and they use water or antifreeze to capture and transmit solar energy and heat. 

Passive heating systems do not have any pumps or controls.

In other words, there’s no use of mechanical devices.

Instead, the building is built with materials that absorb the sun’s heat and trap it inside the house, thus keeping it warm.

Positioning of the house is crucial in passive solar heating.

For example, specialized windows are tilted towards the south to ensure maximum sunlight exposure. 

What Are The Different Ways To Use Active Solar Heating In Homes?

To date, solar heat is used in two main ways, by heating air or water.

Solar Air Space Heating

This is the use of solar energy to keep the air in the home warm.

The materials built into the home absorb sunlight, convert it into heat, and transmit it to other parts of the house. 

Solar Water Heating Systems

These systems use solar energy to heat the water in the home.

Usually, the harvested solar energy is converted into electricity and transferred to the heat exchanger.

The electricity is then transferred from the heat exchanger to the water heating system, where it heats the water. 

What Is An Advantage Of Using Solar Heaters?

Using solar heating comes with various advantages, as listed below.

  • Endless power source – You don’t have to worry about the grid going down or your propane tank running empty.
  • Clean – Unlike fossil fuels, solar doesn’t produce harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, which can cause suffocation, air pollution, and even damage the ozone layer. 
  • Generates passive income – If your solar panels are generating more energy than you need, you might be able to sell the extra to the city’s power grid, thus earning you a little bit of money on the side. 
  • Return on investment and cost savings – Cost savings and high ROI are arguably major upsides of using a solar heating system. Homeowners can expect up to 60% savings. This figure can be as high as 90% in places with a lot of sunlight, such as Arizona. You can increase the value of your home by simply installing a solar heater system.
  • Installation costs are dropping – The installation cost of solar heating systems is not cheap. But the prices are falling yearly, thanks to widespread adoption and efforts to make renewable energy mainstream. 

What Is A Disadvantage Of Using A Solar Heating System?

Using solar heat comes with disadvantages as well.

  • High initial cost – Buying solar heater units and paying for professional installation is an expensive undertaking. The good thing is that once it’s done, you won’t have to worry about monthly utility bills.
  • You can’t take it with you – Solar heat systems may not be a wise investment if you’re planning to move. It is expensive and impractical to pay someone to uninstall and reinstall the system at your new home. Therefore, you’re likely to lose your investment before it pays you back. But again, considering that it will increase the home’s market value, you might be able to recoup your investment.
  • Efficiency depends on the weather and location – If you need to use solar energy during the night or when it’s cloudy, you’ll need to incur the extra expense of purchasing a larger thermal battery or use the grid. Also, the performance of a solar system might be greatly compromised during winter, especially when snow covers your entire rooftop. Fortunately, this can easily be solved with net metering, where you transfer your excess solar power to the city grid and later use it when there’s no sunlight. 
  • Takes up space – If you opt for active solar panels, you’ll need a larger space to accommodate them. To get a considerable amount of solar energy, you’ll need more solar panels, which require more space. If you’re going for passive solar panels, space shouldn’t be a problem because the energy generators are built into the house.

Is Solar Heat Expensive?

The cost of setting up solar heating is relatively expensive.

The cost breakdown section shows that it usually takes tens of thousands of dollars just to set up the system.

Fortunately, these amounts can gradually pay for themselves once you start using the system because your electricity bills will drop significantly or even disappear. 

Are Solar Heating Panels Good For Your Home?

Yes, solar panels are good for your home.

For one, they are good for the environment, because they are powered by the sun.

Secondly, they reduce the carbon emissions that your home generates, which contributes to clean air in your home.

They also help in the global efforts to fight the current climate crisis

They can also increase the value of your home. So, if you’re planning to sell your house in the future, you can list your house at a price above the market’s average. 

Unfortunately, some people don’t like how solar panels affect the general aesthetic of their homes.

But some companies are now creating functional and aesthetically pleasing solar roofs.

If you have some funds to spare, you can opt for good-looking, high-end options such as these. 

Why Use Solar Water Heating Systems?

There are various reasons why you should consider using a solar water heating system. 

  • Utility bill savings – Once you have paid the upfront costs, you can enjoy generous savings on your water heating bills. If you live in an area that gets a lot of sunlight, you can save up to 90% on your water and heating bills. 
  • Reduced air pollution – A solar heating system will be a great alternative if you’re still using fossil fuels for heating water in your home. It uses natural sunlight to generate the energy that heats the water and doesn’t release any harmful elements into the atmosphere. You’ll be running an eco-friendly home, which will be a great way to contribute to the global efforts of battling the climate change crisis. 
  • Extends the lifespan of the water boiler – Water boilers that use electricity do a lot of work, significantly reducing their overall lifespan. A solar heat system can increase the lifespan of your boiler by more than 60%. 
  • Tax incentives – The government offers tax credits to people installing solar energy. This lowers the total budget for setting up a solar water heating system. 
  • Low maintenance – Solar water heating systems are quite low maintenance. The panels simply require a little bit of cleaning a couple of times a year. They don’t have any moving parts, so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear. Solar water heating systems can last up to two decades without needing heavy repairs. This is long enough for you to recoup your investment. 

Did you know? The US Department of Energy estimates that homeowners use up to 18% of their utility energy in heating the water.

What Is The Best Solar Pool Heating System For Pools?

If you’re looking for the best solar heat system for a pool, here are a few options.

Smart Pool S601 Inground Pool Solar Heat System 

This solar system is an excellent option for both in-ground and above-ground pools.

The system can raise the temperature of the pool by 15 F.

You can install the solar heater on your rooftop or lay it next to your pool.

A downside to this solar pool heating system is that you must buy the installation kit separately. 

FAFCO Solar Powered Heating System 

This solar heating system is an excellent option for those with an above-ground pool.

The solar panels can be tilted to increase the efficiency of the system.

For instance, if you want your pool to heat up much faster, you can tilt the panel to the south.

The system provides options when it comes to where you place it.

You can put it on your rooftop, on a rack, or right next to the pool.

The installation kit must be purchased separately.

SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater

This solar pool heater is an excellent choice for individuals who want an affordable system that doesn’t compromise performance and quality.

It’s efficient, versatile, and effortless to install, thus preferred by many homeowners across America.

It is an excellent DIY option and can save you the money you would otherwise spend on professional installation.

This solar system can raise your pool’s temperature by 6 F to 10 F.

It is suitable for both in-ground and above-ground pools

Is Solar Heating Worth It?

Considering the many benefits of solar heat, it is a worthy investment.

For one, you can reduce your electricity bills by a considerable percentage. Sometimes, you may not even need to rely on the grid at all.

Secondly, you can make your home eco-friendly by limiting carbon emissions that contribute to air pollution, global climate issues, and depletion of the ozone layer.

Thirdly, you can generate some money on the side if you sell the excess power to the grid. 

Installing and using renewable energy sources, including solar, qualify you for various tax breaks. This can become a significant financial reward. 

Solar heating can also increase the value of your home, and you can use it as a selling point for buyers.

Studies show that homes with installed solar systems sell at 4.1% more than those that don’t have these systems. 


Solar heating is a great way for homes to become eco-friendly, self-reliant, and energy-efficient.

Although the upfront costs are expensive, they are usually worth it in the end because they pay for themselves through electricity cost savings.

Deciding whether you want to install a solar system depends on several factors.

For example, if you’re about to sell your home, don’t be compelled to take the leap. You might be better off remaining on the city grid.

If you’re in a region that rarely gets sunlight, you might want to skip this option. 

Generally, the final choice comes down to your personal goals and the logistics in your region.

A professional solar heating system installer can help you decide if this clean, renewable energy source is right for you.

About Leo Bender

Leo has been a contractor since 2003, specializing in: roofing, siding, general contracting (GC) and residential remodeling. Leo is also a Certified HVAC, Oil & Gas Heating Technician/Installer. In addition to roofing and remodeling, Leo is passionate about Solar, green building and energy conservation, so a lot of my time and energy goes to installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

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