Demythtifying Solar Water Heaters

As of 25th May 2017, the Kenyan national government through its agency the Energy Regulation Commission, ERC, will start following up on the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 of the Energy Act 2006. The regulation states that any facility which consumes a minimum of 100 L of hot water daily, must install a solar water heater. Failure to adhere to these regulations will lead to a jail term of not less than one year, a fine of 1 million shillings, or both. This law basically applies to facilities as small as three bedroom houses, which are have a minimum daily hot water demand of 100 L, to hotels, restaurants, industrial facilities, institutions and schools just to name but a few.

Consumers were given a period of 5 years to comply with this regulation since 2012 and this period elapsed yesterday. As a matter of fact, there was even a directive issued in Nairobi County that new housing developments would not be approved or even connected to the electricity grid if the solar water heating systems were not installed. But we all know the nature of our countrymen and women who always like doing things during the last minute in a rush just to avert the crises at hand.


Its good news for these people as there is going to be a grace period of 6 months to allow consumer to comply coz when the ERC will cast its nets to catch the non-compliant individuals, lets just say the government will have found a reliable revenue source to curb its ever growing national debt through these fines.

This post is to demystify the illusions surrounding the effectiveness of the solar water heating technology and enlighten individuals on its great advantage to both the consumer in terms of energy costs and the planet at large in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. This technology is not new to us: did you know as early as 212 BC, Archimedes used the sun’s heat to burn the sails of enemy ships?


Here, I will highlight some of the myths going around in regards to solar water heating technology, debunk them and set the record straight with facts.

Myth #1: Solar water heaters only work in direct sunlight.

Fact: Systems for solar hot water globally can be customized to produce reliable results in a wide variety of environments. Changing the size, types, and number of panels used to capture the sun’s rays are some of the ways that solar energy companies adjust for environmental variances. Seek an expert to advice you on the best system for your environment.

Myth #2: Solar technology is not affordable.

Fact: A typical system of at least 100 L cost up to KES 100,000 inclusive labor costs and level of technology incorporated. In the recent years, the government has actually put tax waivers on all renewable energy technology in the market. So even if you think your solar expert/contractor is fleecing you, you can always import the equipment and just pay for installation costs. You can certainly finance the cost of a system, but with the low cost, you may not want to.

Ultimately, you’ll need to look at the ROI or return on investment and payback period that you’ll receive by switching to solar. You’ll recoup the upfront cost in a matter of a few years. After that, all of the savings go straight to your pocketbook.

Furthermore, your business or residence will be able to lock in a fixed energy price that will hold for years to come, protecting you from energy costs that continually increase due to the inflation and fluctuations in the market. In addition to solar water heating, you might also be able to bundle solar technology solutions for an even better up-front cost and more savings in the future.

Myth #3: Solar hot water doesn’t make a meaningful impact on the environment.

Fact: Water heaters account for almost a third of all energy usage in the home. They are second only to HVAC systems in terms of energy expenditure and this especially in the hot and humid regions e.g. Mombasa County. Solar hot water systems greatly reduce the amount of energy required from fossil fuel, thereby decreasing the overall carbon footprint of a residence or business.

Myth #4: Solar hot water systems are eyesores.

Fact: There are a number of different configurations for solar solutions today. Many systems will sit almost entirely flush with your roof and won’t be very noticeable.

Rather than being “ugly,” solar panels area actually great conversation starters about cost savings and effectiveness when compared to traditional technology.

Myth #5: Waiting for prices to drop will lead to further savings for your home in the future.

Fact: Now is the best time to take advantage of all of the government and local programs that will offset the majority of the cost of purchase and installation. Also, the sooner you install a system, the sooner you’ll start to notice a difference in your overall energy bill. In the recent wake of the banking sector’s interest cap, financial institutions have had to innovate new finance products so as to remain profitable. HFCK bank, and FCB bank who have partnered with an energy investment company EIT-Africa have gone this direction. Visit them and they could offer customized financing solutions for your system.

Myth #6: Solar water heaters aren’t reliable.

Fact: The modern SHW technology has been around since well before the 70s. Indeed it has been around long enough now that there is virtually no more efficiency gains to squeezed out of the systems; it is as efficient as it can be according to the laws of physics.

The unpressurized, drainback system – the most popular system type -has only one moving part, the pump, and has failsafe mechanisms built in should the pump fail.

Myth #7: Solar water heating won’t make enough of a difference for my business.

Fact: If you use a substantial amount of water, then heating that water, regardless of whether you use electricity, biomass or gas, will be a substantial cost. Residential SHW systems are typically designed to supply 70% or more of that heating load; commercial systems can potentially supply more. That is a substantial cost reduction.

I will keep on insisting that you need to consider the numbers before you decide that solar water heating isn’t for you. A solar water heating system basically saves up to 50% of heating costs! For a facility that consistently relies on hot water, the solution is a viable economic choice that generates a significant return on investment over time.

Myth #8: Cold weather temperatures decrease the system’s efficiency.

Fact: During the cold months there is less insolation available and the temperature of the water coming from the main will be lower than in the other months. That being said your solar hot water system captures the heat from the available sunlight and delivers it to your cold water as efficiently as it does in the other months.


Finding a system that you can trust is the first step in implementing a dependable solar hot water system. Switch to Solar design and installs solar hot water in your locality. You can get an estimate for your home’s or business’ needs during initial consultations. At Visionary Engineering Ltd, we can also find the relevant government and local programs that can help you afford the technology up front. Alternatively, see the link for a register of licensed technicians in Kenya.

Hoping that this post has shed some light on the matter, you have six months to install the solar water heating systems and comply with the law of the land. Use them wisely!

Today in Engineering History: 26th May 1927, the last of the Ford Model T car was made. The Model T, also known as the “Tin Lizzie,” changed the way Americans live, work and travel. Henry Ford’s revolutionary advancements in assembly-line automobile manufacturing made the Model T the first car to be affordable for a majority of Americans. For the first time car ownership became a reality for average American workers, not just the wealthy. It was number 15 million in the production line.


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