6 Best Solar Water Heater Systems (Tested: See Results)

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The industry’s best solar water heater systems can help you save money and the environment by reducing your reliance on the electrical grid. These innovative systems use thermal energy to heat water and can be used in lieu of traditional gas or electric hot water heaters.

They don’t require costly solar panels or overly technical installation and can be a great first purchase for homeowners looking to try out alternative energy.

Solar water heater systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can increase the value of your home. Some can heat your shower to the perfect temperature, while others can extend the swimming season by heating your pool. Whatever your needs and level of investment, there’s a solar water heater system out there for you.

If you’re looking for solar panels, be sure to check out our list of the best solar panel kits.

Now, let’s take a swim through our list of the 6 best solar water heater systems!

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
01 Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System Best Overall Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System The Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System is an impressive water heating unit that comes in sizes ranging from 200 liters all the way up to 1,000 liters and features both single and dual coil heating through the 600-liter model. Check Price
02 Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater Runner Up Best Solar Water Heater: Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater The Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater is a smaller system meant for 1-3 people, though they offer an 80-gallon model, as well. The Sunbank is a pressure-driven system and doesn’t require the use of glycol or pumps to get its water from the tank to the faucet. Check Price
03 Sportneer Solar Shower Bag Best Solar Water Heater For Camping: Sportneer Solar Shower Bag The Sportneer Solar Shower Bag is a great way to get hot water on the go. Whether you’re out camping miles from the nearest civilization or just enjoying a day at the beach, this well-built and durable 5-gallon unit will provide you with hot water on the go, wherever that may be! Check Price
04 SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels Best Solar Water Heater For Swimming Pools: SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels The SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels are designed to be placed on the ground beside your pool or mounted on top of a roof or a rack, and then hooked into your pool’s existing pump system to help heat the water in your pool naturally and efficiently. suitable for both above-ground and in-ground pools. Check Price
05 Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater Best Pressure Powered Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater The Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater harnesses the rays of the sun to heat up the water in its 180-liter tank. The pressure-powered system also features an electric heating element to heat the water in the event of low sunlight or freezing conditions. Check Price
06 Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater Best Tankless Evacuated Vacuum Tube Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater If you’re looking for an evacuated solar water heater, you can’t go wrong with the Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater. Also available in 15, 20, and 25 tube models, this unit offers maximum water pressure of 87 PSI and a maximum flow rate of 5.25 GPM. Check Price

How We Chose the Best Solar Water Heater Systems

solar water heater
Solar water heaters allow you to heat your water in an eco-friendly way.

This list features various systems with specific uses, from water heaters designed specifically for home hot water systems, camping or on-the-go use, and even heaters designed to heat swimming pools, so each system was independently reviewed and assessed on its individual merits.

Based on those specified criteria, we’ve narrowed down a competitive list of options to feature the 6 best solar water heater systems.

Our rankings specifically focus on the capacity of the water heater (in gallons) and the type of solar collection. It also takes into consideration the quality and extra features of the overall system. 

READ MORE: The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy. See our take on the benefits and drawbacks of using solar energy at home and abroad.

Best Solar Hot Water Heaters Reviewed

1. Best Overall Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System

Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System

Product Ratings

Price 5/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use5/5

Capacity: 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 Gallons | Brand: Duda Energy | Features: Automatic Air Vent, Submersible Water Pump |

What We Liked

  • Suitable for residential or commercial use
  • Great tank capacity

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not made for travel

Duda is well-known in the solar water heating business as a trustworthy and high-quality brand. This water heater is SRCC-certified and may be utilized for federal or state tax credits and exemptions, which is an excellent incentive for homeowners who are on the fence about investing in a solar water heating system.

The 200L Active Split System is great because it allows homeowners to heat their water on the roof or other sun-heavy location and store it in a protected tank close to where it will be dispensed.

This prevents major heat loss by keeping the water warm when the ambient air temperature is low. The solar water heating system also utilizes a single copper heat exchanger coil that’s placed near the upper part of the tank to strategically heat the water as it’s being used, so the cold water at the bottom of the tank can be heated later.

Its water tank rivals standard electric or natural gas systems but eliminates the need for costly energy consumption as it’s equipped with a solar water heater collector. The storage tank, itself, consists of food-grade stainless steel.

It also includes an 8-liter expansion tank to help prevent failures in the system due to stagnation. This means your solar collectors won’t be damaged if the amount of solar energy exceeds the amount of water you’re heating at any given time. There’s also a thermostatic mixing valve to prevent scalding.

The solar collector is fitted with twenty 14mm solar tubes on a 45-degree stand, which can easily be exchanged for a 37-degree or sloped roof stand if you plan on mounting it elsewhere.

The solar collector transfers the heat from the sun to your water pump through an indirect circulation system. The Duda kit includes the necessary two gallons of food-grade inhibited propylene glycol for the process.

The kit also includes a solar water heater working station which regulates the split pressurized system by connecting the collectors, storage tanks, relays, and sensors. It uses a circulation pump, pressure gauge, pressure relief valve, and check valve.

Other safety systems include an automatic air vent for purging air from the top portion of the system and a submersible water pump for the initial air purge and charging of fluid into the system.

See Price on Amazon

2. Runner Up Best Solar Water Heater: Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater

Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater

Product Ratings

Price 5/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use5/5

Capacity: 40, 80 Gallons | Brand: Sunbank Solar | Features: Glycol Free, High-Density Polyurethane Insulation |

What We Liked

  • A truly 100% solar powered system
  • Virtually no maintenance required

What We Didn’t Like

  • Less efficient than some other systems

The Sunbank 40-gallon solar water heater is a no-frills integrated system. It has an easy installation and maintenance process to help homeowners when switching to utilizing solar heat.

Passive water heating is great for small households living in mild climates that receive a lot of sunlight. With no moving parts or extra pieces, the Sunbank system is a great starter kit for those who may be intimidated by more intricate and advanced solar heaters.

Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater
Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar Water Heater

With a SRCC certification, the Sunbank is a cost-efficient way to cut down on expenses. Their affordable price point and 10-year warranty guarantee financial security. By using a passive solar system, homeowners can save as much as $600 per year in energy costs.

The 40-gallon tank is made of stainless steel, and the high-density polyurethane insulation also provides heat retention to prevent extra heat loss in low ambient temperatures. The size of the tank is adequate for small households of one to three people. Those with larger families may want to consider an 80-gallon tank instead.

Sunbank’s system is passive, rather than active, so it doesn’t require pumps, glycol heating fluid, or any moving parts. This makes installation much more convenient for novice plumbers or DIY homeowners.

Passive systems are also cheaper than their active counterparts, and they’re a great starting point for those looking to enter the solar market.

Since the system doesn’t use pumps, it’s pressurized. The system relies on municipal or well water pressure to move the water in and out of the tank. Once a faucet is turned on, the cold water is pushed into the hot water tank, which then pushes the hot water to your faucet.

The 15 evacuated solar tube collectors are mounted on a corrosive-resistant aluminum bracket. Each tube can collect 92–96% of the sun’s energy in prime conditions.

The tubes can be used as a pre-heater for an existing system or as a stand-alone unit. They’re best suited for roofs that receive an adequate amount of sunlight.

See Price on Amazon

3. Best Solar Water Heater For Camping: Sportneer Solar Shower Bag

Sportneer Solar Shower Bag

Product Ratings

Price 5/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use5/5

Capacity: 5 Gallons | Brand: Sportneer | Features: Shower Head Nozzle |

What We Liked

  • Great for camping, hiking, or being on-the-go in general
  • Easy to clean

What We Didn’t Like

  • Limited capacity can only provide enough hot water for one or two people before needing refilled

As far as portable showering is concerned, Sportneer’s Solar Shower Bag ticks all the boxes. With a durable design and a host of features, campers can now have a hot shower in the wilderness. This bag is not intended to be a replacement for indoor showers or advanced solar water heating systems.

The design of the Sportneer is simple: a small, integrated solar panel heats up the water, which is held in an insulated PVC bag. With a 5-gallon capacity, the bag can provide enough showers for a solo outdoorsman or a small crew. It also comes equipped with a temperature bar, a showerhead, storage pockets, and a carrying case.

Sportneer Solar Shower Bag
Sportneer Solar Shower Bag

The Sportneer Solar Shower Bag is the perfect accessory for avid campers. The bag is made of durable PVC material and comes with a hook for temporary installation on a tree, wall, or car.

On the front of the bag are two net pockets that can be used to store bath products. It only weighs 1.2 pounds and can be easily rolled up and stowed in its mesh carrying case during outdoor excursions.

With a built-in solar panel, the shower bag can heat water in direct sunlight for as little as 3 hours. It includes a temperature indicator on the back so campers can add cool water if the bag exceeds comfortable levels. With a 5-gallon capacity, the bag can hold enough hot water to last a few short showers.

Attached to the bag is a shower hose with a nozzle that simulates a real shower experience. The hose is connected to a water inlet with a sealed cap to prevent leakage. If the hose does manage to leak, the kit includes cable ties that can be used to prevent further leaks by closing off the connections.

See Price on Amazon

4. Best Solar Water Heater For Swimming Pools: SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels

SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels

Product Ratings

Price 5/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use5/5

Capacity: N/A | Brand: SunQuest | Features: Kit For Roof Mounting, Multiple Sizes For More Efficient Heating |

What We Liked

  • Easy installation 
  • Can raise the water temperature in a swimming pool by up to 10 degrees
  • Incredibly low maintenance 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Takes up large areas
  • Can’t be used for residential purposes

The SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater is a great option for those with a pool at home. During off-seasons like spring or fall, the SunQuest can keep your pool at a comfortable and ambient temperature. With a maximum of a 10-degree increase in temperature, you can swim at any time of year.

The system works by pumping the water through unglazed tubes that heat the water before it is returned to the pool. It requires little installation or maintenance and can be used for above-or below-ground pools. What’s better, the sleek black heating pad won’t be an eyesore in the back garden.

SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels
SunQuest Solar Pool Heater Panels

The SunQuest system is unique in that it heats both in-ground and above-ground pools through an integrated unit. It works with the pool’s pump to push water through the heated coils and back into the pool, raising the temperature by up to 10 degrees.

The kit comes with two 2 by 12-ft. panels that you can simply place on the ground or a rack near the pool. There are multiple sizes available to improve efficiency. The system is UV protected and won’t be damaged by the sun. It also comes with a “MAX-FLOW” design that improves water circulation.

Note: You will need to purchase additional piping to complete the installation. This will connect your pool to the heating pads. The system comes with standard connectors to attach to flexible or rigid pipes and hoses.

See Price on Amazon

5. Best Pressure Powered Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater

Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater

Product Ratings

Price 3/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use4/5

Capacity: 150, 180, 300 Liter | Brand: Duda Energy | Features: Food-Grade Stainless Steel, Electrical Backup Heating Element |

What We Liked

  • Terrific construction quality
  • Backup electric element

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not as effective in closer conditions

The Duda Solar 180 Liter Passive Water Heater is an impressively built pressure-powered water heating unit. Made from impeccable quality food-grade stainless steel, the unit is built to last for years. 

This particular unit also comes with a backup electric heating element that can be utilized in cold and low-sun conditions. It is easily operated through an external controller that allows the user to set circumstances in which the backup element kicks in for use. 

The heater is pressurized by the incoming water source, meaning that when you turn on the hot water supplied by the heater, cold water from your water source enters the tank, pushing the hot water out to the faucet.

The pipes that provide the heat to the water in the tank are high-efficiency, converting about 94% of the sunlight they attract into heat. 

See Price on Amazon

6. Best Tankless Evacuated Vacuum Tube Solar Water Heater: Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater

Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater

Product Ratings

Price 4/5
Quality 5/5
Ease Of Use5/5

Capacity: 15, 20, 25, 30 Tube | Brand: Duda Energy | Features: Hailstone Resistant Up To 1”, High Boron Silicon 3.3 Glass |

What We Liked

  • Great for colder conditions
  • Class-leading vacuum tube construction
  • High efficiency sun absorption 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Unit does not come with a tank

The final entry on our list of the best solar water heaters is the Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater. It does not feature a tank to hold the hot water in, so prospective buyers will also be in the market for a tank to store their hot water in. 

Evacuated vacuum tube technology uses sunlight absorbed by a vacuum-sealed tube of glass to heat an aluminum tube inside of the glass to over 250 degrees while keeping the glass on the outside cool and safe to the touch. The aluminum tube transfers its heat to a copper conductor at the top of the tube to directly heat the water. 

Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater
Duda Solar 30 Tube Water Heater

The evacuated vacuum tubes are ideal in colder conditions because of how efficiently they turn sunlight into heat for the water. They also retain more sunlight than flat-panel collectors in conditions of indirect sunlight. 

Anyone who already has a tank in place and is looking specifically for a heating source should consider this marvelous evacuated vacuum tube unit. 

See Price on Amazon

Comparison Chart

ProductsBest OverallBest Overall Runner UpBest For CampingBest For Swimming PoolsBest Pressure PoweredBest Tankless Evacuated Vacuum Tube
Overall Rating5/54.5/54/55/54/54/5
Price 5/55/55/55/53/54/5
Quality 5/55/55/55/55/55/5
Ease Of Use5/55/55/55/54/55/5

The Winner

Duda Solar 200 Liter Water Heater Active Split System earned our nod for being an excellent all-in-one system for anyone looking to switch to or upgrade an existing solar-powered hot water heater. Its range of tank sizes can provide hot water for homes and businesses as well, making it the best and most versatile option on our list!

How to Choose the Best Solar Water Heater Systems

What Type Of Climate Do You Live In?

As with other solar products, the local climate affects the efficiency of your unit. Those who live in cloudy, rainy, or cold climates will have a harder time producing a consistent amount of energy. During particularly dreary periods, this could mean regular cold showers, a situation most homeowners want to avoid.

If you don’t want to run out of hot water, you should install a backup electric system in parallel with your solar system. You can turn these “point-of-use” electric heaters off when there’s sun and use them only when there’s a lack of solar energy production. 

The type of solar water heater you should purchase also depends on your climate. Some systems, like active direct circulation systems and passive integral collector-storage systems, won’t work well in freezing weather. You should only use them in tropical climates. 

If you live in a particularly cold area that’s prone to freezing, an active indirect circulation system is the best option. This system pumps heat transfer fluid through the solar collectors, which prevents freezing. These are some of the most popular (and most expensive) options on the market.

How Much Water Do You Need?

In general, the amount of water you’ll need is determined by your household size. Those with smaller households will only need a 30-to-40-gallon system. However, those with bigger families may need an 80-gallon system or dual 40-gallon units.

Most solar water heating systems come with a storage tank. However, some only provide on-demand water heating that’s dependent on the weather at the time. These systems are lower capacity as they can only heat as much water as they can fit in the solar collector tubes.

For those living in multi-person households, a storage tank is essential. If you plan on using your system in a small seasonal cabin or for camping, a tankless option is just fine. These systems usually offer 5 gallons of water, which is enough for a quick shower or two.

Speaking of camping, these Best Solar Ovens are an eco-friendly way to cook food when you’re not near a kitchen!

Tips For Pool Heating Systems

Pool water heating systems operate quite differently from residential systems. In fact, they are different products.

However, some solar water heating systems are “hybrid” and offer both residential heating and pool heating. There are also kits that include controllers that can direct hot water to two separate systems, like a storage tank and a hot tub.

In general, solar water heating systems specifically for swimming pools are operated with flat-plate collectors. There are two different types of flat-plate collectors: glazed and unglazed.

Pool systems are usually unglazed as they are cheaper to make. However, they don’t have any enclosures, so you should protect them from any inclement weather that could damage them.

You can install solar pool heaters on the ground, mounted on a rack, or on the roof. In general, the surface area of the solar collector should be equal to 50–100% of the surface area of the pool.

You will also need to connect it to your pool pump, which will push the water through the heated tubes and back into the pool. You’ll need to assess the size of your pool and access to sunlight in your yard before deciding on the right model for you.

Does The System Need To Be Portable?

You do not need to install all the solar water heater systems or wire them to sensors. In fact, there are a number of portable solar water heaters that use a simple solar panel to heat a small amount of water. These models are perfect for campers, RV drivers, hikers, or outdoor enthusiasts who want access to a hot shower in the wilderness.

Portable water heaters include a durable bag, a hose or pump, and a solar panel. You’ll want to choose an option with a temperature gauge to prevent accidental burning. Showerheads and proper hoses are also great features as they simulate a real shower.

Most portable showers are small and can’t hold more than a few gallons of water. However, a 5-gallon model can provide enough water for several quick hot showers. 

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