Homeowners in China are the proud owners of 27 million rooftop solar water heaters. Nearly 4,000 Chinese companies manufacture the devices, and for a mere $200 a villager can have a rooftop solar collector installed and will soon be taking their first hot shower. The energy produced by these rooftop solar hot water heaters in China is equal to the electricity generated by 49 coal-fired power plants. It is easy to see that while America may be lagging a bit behind, we are skipping to catch up, making a solar hot water heating business perfect for someone with both environmental concerns and the desire to own and operate their own business.
If you have an avid interest in the growing solar power industry, a solar hot water heating business may be just what you are looking for. The solar power industry is currently at $11 billion per year, and is expected to grow to over $32 billion within the next three to five years. More and more people are looking for ways to not only cut down on their monthly electric bill, but help our overloaded planet at the same time. Harnessing solar energy is expanding on many different levels due to concerns about climate change and energy security as well as the cost of fossil fuels rising steadily. Government incentives for solar installations are increasing, leading to an overall decline in the total cost of installing a solar hot water—once the initial installment cost of a solar hot water heater is paid, hot water is essentially free from then on. Hawaii, California and Florida lead in installation of solar hot water heating systems, and nationwide installation tripled in 2006, and has continued to rise rapidly, with no decline in sight.
How Do Solar Water Heaters Work?
Energy from the sun can be used to heat water for buildings and for swimming pools as well. Swimming pool systems are quite simple and generally consist of collectors made of black plastic or rubber collectors mounted on a garage, carport, or home, through which the pool water is pumped and heated. Solar water heating systems for buildings will typically consist of a solar collector, in which fluid is heated by the sun, and a simple storage tank which holds the heated hot water. Some systems use fluids other than water; these require the additional step of passing the water through a heat exchanger.
How Do I Get Started?
The best thing about a solar hot water heating business is that you will have the benefit of limited competition, and will be serving a need in a growing industry at the same time. If you have a business background, you will already be up to speed on the steps you need to take to start not only a solar hot water heating business, but any business, and probably are well-versed in creating a business plan. If you don’t have a solid business background, you should get some help from either your state’s small business association, or from a trusted friend or attorney with knowledge in this area.
Some of the things you will need to consider before starting your business are:
- What supplies will I need to start my company, and how will I open my solar hot water heating business with minimal expense?
- Where will I find customers, where will I purchase my materials, and how will I market my company?
- Do I have the knowledge, skills and applicable license(s) necessary to install the systems myself, or, if not, can I find qualified installers?
Solar Hot Water Heating Installers
Solar hot water heaters must be installed according to specifications, local building codes and regulations currently in place regarding the systems. Generally speaking, a solar hot water installer must be both a plumber and heating expert in order to install the systems, and, in most states, this means either you, or someone in your company, must possess a valid plumber’s license and/or an electrician’s license, or a solar contractor’s license. Each state has different requirements and qualifications, so you must check into your jurisdiction to find out the varying licensing requirements. You may also be able to attend solar heating training workshops which are conducted by different states, or the solar industry.
A solar hot water heating business is definitely the wave of the future! You can have the flexibility of owning your own business, never have to worry about getting laid off, and do something that both supports your family and helps the environment at the same time.
Image Credit: Jason Pratt