Can Homeowners DIY Solar Hot Water Heaters?

Can Homeowners DIY Solar Hot Water Heaters?

Solar energy can save electricity and gas costs for homeowners who want to lower their bills and decrease their carbon footprint. Solar panels can be installed on roofs to provide an additional energy resource, but solar power also can be used to help heat the water.

Can homeowners DIY solar hot water heaters? This project is feasible, but it may require a bit more than novice knowledge. There are a number of resources online that homeowners can use to help tackle this project, but all homeowners need to do their homework before embarking on any major DIY endeavor to ensure that any necessary permits are secured. For example, some municipalities require homeowners to apply for a permit before installing a hot water heater.

The Easy Solar Powered Kit

The Family Handyman notes that having a professional install a solar water heater may run anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. So, yes, a professional installation is quite an investment. However, the site explains that going the DIY route using a solar-powered hot water heater kit costs about half to a quarter of the price of a professional ($2,000). The Family Handyman also added that federal and local tax credits for this project may help lower the cost. Some plumbing know-how is necessary for this project.

Build It Solar Plans & Resources

The site Build It Solar has a list of plans and resources for DIY solar water heating. Build It Solar includes links for Batch Solar Water Heaters, Heating Water with Compost, and even maintenance tips for solar water heaters. There are plans for building a $1,000 solar water heater (for those on a tight budget).  

Build it Solar may serve as a great resource for homeowners that want to investigate their options. Read over the topics and plans to find the best DIY project.

DIY Solar Hot Water

How Much Can Homeowners Save?

While some homeowners turn to solar as a means to embrace a greener lifestyle, lower their carbon footprint and have less reliance on traditional energy sources, others may see the savings as a lure to opt for solar energy. How much can homeowners save with a solar water heater? And does the savings offset the cost?

The Department of Energy has homeowners covered with the cost savings questions. According to, adding an ENERGY STAR qualified solar for water heating can cut costs by about half. With an electric water heater, the site estimates that homeowners will pay more than $500 a year. Solar will reduce this to less than $300. For gas, the estimated yearly cost is around $400, but solar offsets this to about $200 per year.

While the initial investment of a solar system might seem a bit high, the savings over time may pay off substantially. The system may pay for itself in savings. However, explains that savings can be affected by several factors including hot water usage, system performance, the home’s location, cost of energy (so gas, electric), etc.

Hire a Pro?

Not every homeowner will read the plans and instructions for a DIY hot water system and feel ready to take on the project. Those who have no experience in plumbing might look to hire a professional. While the cost for a professional installation is higher than DIY, hiring a pro might save stress and frustration. And maybe other costs, too. Homeowners who lack the experience they need for DIY may make errors, which could result in more repair costs.

Homeowners interested in hiring a professional to install a solar hot water system should research their options. Many sites offer reviews that can help homeowners guide them to the best company for the job. Homeowners also will need to consider their budget and may want to ask for estimates from different companies.

DIY Solar Hot Water


Solar water heaters require maintenance. Whether homeowners install their own or hire a pro, they will need to schedule periodic check-ups of the system to ensure that everything is running as it should. includes a comprehensive check-list of all the maintenance inspections needed for this type of system. The site also recommends reading the system’s manual for more direction on what needs to be inspected and when.

DIY solar water heaters can save money over time. To tackle this project will cost homeowners an estimated $2,000, while hiring a pro can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. However, this project might not be well suited to all homeowners. Those interested in opting for a solar system but who don’t feel confident on the DIY approach should research professionals in their area.

Homeowners ready for a DIY project should ensure that they secure any necessary permits before tackling their solar initiative. Whether the solar project is completed by the homeowner or a pro, the yearly savings could add up over time…and eventually the savings may compensate for the price of the project!