Frequently Asked Questions about Sungrabber Solar Water Heaters

Q. Why use a Solar Hot Water Heater?
A Sungrabber solar hot water system can save you 50 - 80% on your hot water heating costs, and our Sungrabber system is environmentally friendly. A solar hot water system can also add value to your home.

Q. Why buy a Sungrabber?
The Sungrabber system has many benefits over other systems:

  • Simplest to install: the Sungrabber system can be installed by your plumber or installer in half a day without large work crews or cranes to hoist heavy panels on the roof.
  • The Sungrabber system does not use expensive commodities such as copper and aluminum. This results in a less costly system with good performance that offers the most BTUs for the dollar.

Q. Is there enough sun where I live?
Yes. There is enough sun in most areas of North America. For additional resources, visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which provides information on installing a solar hot water heating system in your home. There are also solar radiation maps that provide data on the solar resource potential for different areas of the United States. You may also consider visiting their Solar Radiation Data Manual, which provides information on solar radiation in your area and charts for areas across the US for a 30 year period.

Q. Will it work in a cold climate?
Yes, the Sungrabber can work in a cold climate. Cold climates have colder mains temperatures. Because of this, the collectors can add energy to the system on a cold day. In fact, the collector saves almost as much energy in cold climates as it does in warm climates. You can refer to Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) documentation to find out how much energy the Sungrabber system can save in your location.

Q. How does a solar water heater work?
A. There are three main components of the solar system that works together to deliver heat from the sun to your faucet; the controller, the collectors and the circulation module.

The controller is the brain of the system. It has one sensor on the roof and one sensor on your water tank. When the controller sees that the temperature on the roof is warmer than the temperature in your tank, it sends power to the circulation module.

The circulation module is where the heat from solar is transferred to your water heater. It circulates water up to the roof to be warmed by the sun and it circulates water from your water tank. The heat is transferred from the solar water to the useable water via a heat exchanger inside the circulation module.

The solar collectors are where the energy is collected from the sun. The black plastic on your roof absorbs sunlight in both the visible and the invisible spectrums and turns it into heat. As the water flows through the panel, the heat is transferred to the water and then to the water heater in the heat exchanger.

Q. I have a large family, can the Sungrabber system accommodate?
A. Yes, there are two ways to accommodate a large family. One way to increase the capacity of the system is to add a solar storage tank, which will make any number of solar collectors perform better. A second option is to add additional solar collectors. Your installer can provide recommendations on the best system configuration for your needs.

Q. Does it replace my existing hot water heater?
No. A solar hot water system works in conjunction with your existing gas or electric hot water heater. In most situations, the addition of a Sungrabber solar hot water system will extend the life of your existing system.

Q. What advantage does this drainback system have over a glazed copper glycol, direct or passive system?
Glazed copper systems have high maintenance because the glycol must be replaced at least every five years. Furthermore, breakdown of glycol can cause acidic conditions and eat through your copper plumbing or your collector. Lastly, glycols systems require costly overheat protection. The Sungrabber system has none of these problems.

  • Direct systems can freeze and pop when the temperature dips below 40 degrees at night.
  • Passive systems can freeze and generally do not perform as well as active systems.

Q. Does the Sungrabber system require maintenance?
A. You will need to keep an eye on the drainback tank to make sure that it doesn’t run dry of water when the system is running. This should be checked monthly. See also your Sungrabber Owner's Manual.

Q. How long will it take to install the system?
A. The system can be installed in around half a day with a two-person installation team.

Q. How will well water and possible sediment affect the system?
A. Sediment or hard water can cause mineral build up on the heat exchanger. Many off-the-shelf "descaling" products can be used to dissolve this build up if it becomes necessary.

Q. Will the polymer solar collector affect the taste of my water?
A. No, the plastic components of the system are separated from the drinking water by the Stainless Steel and Copper heat exchanger. There is no way that any plastic part could affect the taste of your water.

Q. Why are the collectors unglazed?
A. Glazed collectors have some drawbacks. First, glazing cuts down on the amount of sunlight that hits the collector by 10%-20%, which reduces the amount of energy that the collector has to heat your water. Second, glazed collectors are usually heavy, requiring multiple people or a crane to install. Third, unglazed collectors on the market can be rolled up for shipping.

Q. Will the system have to be removed from my roof when it gets below 32 degrees Fahrenheit?
A. No, the drainback feature of the Sungrabber system ensures that water is not in the collectors when the pump is not running. As long as the Drainback tank is in an area that does not see freezing temperatures, the system should be fine.

Q. How do I purchase a system or receive more information?
A. Complete our How to Purchase form and we will forward your contact information to an installer near you.

Q. What is covered by the warranty?

A. The Sungrabber warranty provides 10 years peace of mind on the solar collectors and a 1 year warranty on Sungrabber parts. Warranty Information.

Q. What is the expected life of the system?

A. With over 1,500,000 solar collectors installed in the field, we have seen that most last at least 20 years. Furthermore, Sungrabber has sourced the industry leading heat pumps which can easily last 20 years when properly installed.