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81 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Despite Federal tax credits (up to 30% of the total cost, including installation) for solar water heating there's a lack of information on the subject.
For a handyman with good plumbing skills, or a homeowner wanting to learn about solar water heating, this is the best book available.
After a history of solar water heating in the US, the book describes...
Published on March 3, 2007 by David Stebbins

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great
This book is a very good summary of solar water heating, whether you just want hot water or you want to use it to heat your home. There are many books that contain most of this information, but this one is more up to date than others I have seen. The biggest added value is that the authors have years of experience, so they warn you about approaches which seemed like a...
Published on February 4, 2011 by Amazon Customer


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81 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, March 3, 2007
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This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
Despite Federal tax credits (up to 30% of the total cost, including installation) for solar water heating there's a lack of information on the subject.
For a handyman with good plumbing skills, or a homeowner wanting to learn about solar water heating, this is the best book available.
After a history of solar water heating in the US, the book describes various systems that use the sun to heat and store water. Climate, freeze conditions, water quality and amount of sunlight available are some of the factors considered in choosing a system, and the book describes them all. Individual components are detailed in a logical, straightforward way. It's obvious the authors have extensive practical knowledge. The writing style is informal and easy to read.
Besides all the solar water heating information, this book also has a good section on radiant floor heating, detailing the use of PEX tubing to heat a concrete slab.
The book uses a lot of drawings to demonstrate how things work. More actual photographs of systems and components would have been helpful. I also wish the authors would have included brand names and sources for equipment. The industry still suffers from the stigma of poorly designed systems of the 1970's and 80's. Some reassurances from the authors regarding which component manufacturers are good would have been nice.
For the past five years, I've lived with a solar water heating system I bought as a package and installed myself. I've been happy with all the "free" hot water it's provided. If this book had been available when planning my system I would have had a much better idea of what I was doing. Having all the components matched and sized with specific instructions gave me a lot of confidence during installation. In my opinion, for the neophyte, a component package is a good way to go.
For anyone planning a residential sized solar water heating system, this is the best book available. It's an excellent guide, whether you decide to choose the individual components yourself, buy a package, or hire a contractor to install a turnkey system.
If you're a contractor or someone wanting to get into the solar water heating business, "Solar Hot Water Systems - Lessons Learned 1977 to Today" (Tom Lane) is very good, but the amount of technical detail implies you already have a good working knowledge of plumbing and roofing. [...]

Good luck getting into hot water!
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, March 28, 2007
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This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
Not being a plumber I can't say this book will be as much value to someone with those skills. He covers the systems so thoroughly that I would imagine if you had the plumbing ability this book would be all you need to get started.

I was a little frustrated having read the first chapter only to find out that several systems described in detail the author would never recommend using. I was thinking to myself why did I waste time reading about those. But that's where the comprehensive part comes in. And by knowing why the author doesn't recommend those systems you get to participate in the joy of knowing everything there is to know about solar water heating.

I especially enjoyed the cost analysis of the hot water systems vs. gas and electric, as well as the discussion of using solar heated water to provide whole house heating.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatement of solar water heating, November 4, 2007
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This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
This book takes a tutorial approach, providing an overview behind the impetus of solar hot water systems, the various systems available and their applicability, and provides a good deal of "how to" information regarding installation. This is the kind of treatment of material that I most prefer when attempting to learn for the purpose of later application of that knowledge. It stands in contrast to books by Dan Chrias (see my reviews), who tends to provide a more overview approach to the information. Coupled with a good understanding of conventional hot water systems, this book may be enough to successfully size, install and operate a solar hot water system. It's only weakness, given its objectives and the volume of the material, is that it glosses over the techniques for system sizing, especially how to manage the relationship between demand and supply (sun availability).
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great, February 4, 2011
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Amazon Customer (Northern California, USA) - See all my reviews
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This book is a very good summary of solar water heating, whether you just want hot water or you want to use it to heat your home. There are many books that contain most of this information, but this one is more up to date than others I have seen. The biggest added value is that the authors have years of experience, so they warn you about approaches which seemed like a good idea 20 years ago, but have not worked out.

What is really missing for me is the information needed to design a sophisticated system. For example, they mention early in the book that some controllers can be accessed on a network. I expected to later find some description of these, or a source for them, or even just a brand name mentioned. None of that is in the book.

In summary, I would highly recommend this book to someone new to the idea of solar water heating. It would probably also be good for a professional in heating or plumbing who wants to add some new business. If you are like me, and have already read and thought about this topic, what this book adds is a little disappointing.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic Facts, February 22, 2007
This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
While giving the basic facts necessary for everyone considering a solar system it is nothing more than that. Great source of things to look for but definitely not a book that will get you from A to Z if you are looking to build your own system or even if you are looking for a source to buy your parts from and install them yourself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solar Water Heating, May 21, 2008
This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
Very good and useful book if you want to understand/evaluate offers/tenders of companies that will construct your solar water heating system. Contains all the rules of thumbs and all the subjects really you need to know (system components, scaling of the system, types of solar water heating systems, system maintenance, system installation, cost calculations, etc.). My only real disappointment is the pervasive use of non-metric units (btu/therms, feet, gallons) throughout the book. This makes it hard to read for non-American readers. There is a unit conversion table, but it would have been better to include the second unit system between brackets or just to use the international metric system. Also a decision diagram/tree for helping to decide what type of solar heating system you would best go for depending on your climate/freezing conditions or not, etc. would have been a useful addition. This information, though, is in the text, but you just have to read it all.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars all the basics, July 29, 2008
This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
After reading reviews for this book I made the purchase hoping to have the basics of solar water heating covered. The book does that very well. Like most of us I'd love to see a book covering a detailed step by step installation with tools, equipment, costs, etc. But people with a handy man ability or a bit more like myself (builder)can figure things out pretty easily. Over All an excellent resource!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good resource, but..., May 24, 2011
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For the money, this seems to be the best book on the subject. I found it full of excellent considerations and information. But, while the authors give good guidance on systems in their State, it falls short when providing good rules of thumb for us located elsewhere. For this reason I am giving 4 stars instead of 5. I wish there were an appendix for other areas of the country/world that provided more specifics for areas other than Wisconsin. But, living in North Georgia, it is good to know that folks are successfully using these systems in Wisconsin. Should work even better here!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solar Water Heating, March 31, 2008
This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
This book is a great primer on how these systems work or can work. I was looking more for something that would show me where i can get a complete packaged system, pre-enginered. But this book was very helpful in allowing me to make a decision about whether to pursue a solar water heated slab design for my new house to be built. It turns out that according to the author, I need full sun from 9:30am to 3:30 pm on my proposed solar panels.
My site only allows sun from about 10:30am spring(11:00am winter) to 3:30pm and hence is not a great candidate for this type heat. The great part about the book is he gives you what you need to make this determination and I agree. If I am going to commit to an insulated slab, solar foundation, then I must be relatively sure it will be successful. I am now going to look into a geothermal ground source heat pump. I is more expensive to install, but in many ways could be simpler to run and keep from having to use as much expensive/dirty fossil fuels as conventional systems. Sure do wish my sight was SUNNIER though!!! Good book, easy read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handy, easy-to-follow guide, November 4, 2006
This review is from: Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)
Written by solar thermal consultant Bob Ramlow, Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide To Solar Water and Space Heating Systems is a straightforward guide to heating water with the sun in one's home for the sake of energy conservation and energy economics. Chapters discuss the costs of fossil fuels and the history of solar heating, types of solar collectors, how to choose and install the right system for one's needs, and much more. Black-and-white diagrams illustrate this handy, easy-to-follow guide to a facet of eco-friendly living, which can save significant money in the long run.
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