Solar Water Heater vs. Electric Geyser – Which One Should You Choose?

The debate whether solar water heaters are better than electric water geysers has been going for years and is not looking to settle down any time soon. Mixed opinions from environmental activists and scientists from all across the globe are making the situation even complicated.

However, in any case, everything has its pros and cons. These two appliances, no matter how good they look on paper, are no exception. So, let’s now briefly discuss the solar water heater vs. electric water heater debate and end this confusion once and for all. 

Electric Geyser vs solar water heater Comparison

Point of ComparisonSolar Water HeaterElectric Water Geyser
Size and WeightA 200 LPD solar water heater can occupy up to 3.28 square meter area. It is significantly higher than electric geysers.Electric water heaters are smaller than solar geysers regarding space requirement. They’re lightweight and more petite.
Installation FlexibilityInstalling solar water heaters is tedious, expensive, and requires expert assistance at all times.Electric water heaters are comparatively easy to install and provide installation flexibility.
PortabilitySolar water heaters are giant, heavy, and therefore not portable.Electric geysers are also hard to move around. They’re more portable than solar water heaters.
Heating TimeThis type of water heater relies on solar energy and thus takes quite a bit of time to heat water.Tankless electric water heaters can heat the water almost instantaneously. However, it’s not the same with storage geysers.
Heating CapacityThese water heaters can hold and heat 100-300 liters of water in around 6-8 hours.Electric geysers have a heating capacity of 3-50 liters of water. The capacities can vary for different manufacturers.
SafetyAs solar water heaters do not run on electricity, they barely have any risk of short circuits. Most manufacturers cap the maximum heat of water at around 85°C.Electric water heaters can undergo short circuits that can cause harm to the users. However, such instances are rare and can be minimized with voltage stabilizers.
Weather DependencySolar water heaters rely heavily on climatic conditions. They need constant sunlight for 5-6 hours to heat a whole load of water in the tank satisfactorily. So, solar water heaters can’t function in cloudy weather.Electric water heaters are entirely weather-independent. No matter what climate conditions, an electric geyser will function as long as the electricity supply is available.
Electricity ConsumptionSince these water heaters harness solar energy to generate power, their electricity consumption is practically zero.Electricity consumption is generally higher, especially in the case of storage electric water geysers.
Cleaning and MaintenanceThe solar panels of those geysers catch dust quickly, which can hinder the overall performance of these geysers. So, these water heaters demand frequent cleaning once or twice every month. Maintaining electric water heaters is crucial to keep the heating coils and other components in check. They demand relatively less cleaning and maintenance than solar geysers.
Ease of UseSolar water heaters works fine. But their weather-dependency and installation process make them complicated to use sometimes.Electric water heaters are relatively easy to use, requiring a mere press on the switch and twist of the faucet.
Price RangeSolar water heaters are often expensive when it comes to upfront costs. Typically, they start from a price tag of Rs 17,000 and go up to a whopping sum of over Rs 1.2 lac depending on the capacity. The price is greatly influenced by the collector used.Electric geysers are pretty cheaper and reasonably priced. They come with a price tag starting from as low as Rs. 3000 and going up to Rs. 15,000.

Importance of Solar Water Heater

The solar water heater is the most cost-effective appliance made for water heating, no surprises there. These water geysers are gaining immense popularity after the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India, started providing subsidies. MNRE specified a benchmark cost for solar water heaters with concentrators, reflectors, and evacuated tube collectors. Under certain conditions, the rate of subsidy is-

  • 30% of the benchmark or actual cost for in all states.
  • 60% of the benchmark or actual cost for states like Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and islands.

However, solar water heaters are not godsend appliances. As the name suggests, they depend solely upon solar energy to generate power, making them practically free to use in the long run. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of solar water heaters in detail. 

Importance of Solar Water Heater

Solar Water Heater Advantages

  • Extremely Cost-effective: The best solar water heaters can reduce your utility bills significantly in the long run as they do not consume electricity. This extreme cost-effectiveness is the primary reason for anyone to opt for a solar water heater. 
  • Durable: Solar water heaters are made with fine engineering in place. Thanks to that, they are more durable than most types of geysers in the market. If put in numbers, you can expect solar water heaters to give you 20-30 years of reliable service without hiccups and without demanding a lot of maintenance costs. 
  • Noiseless: Solar water heaters generate very little to absolutely zero noise while functioning, making them suitable for many households. This noiseless operation also saves energy that would’ve been lost in the form of noise, converting most of the solar energy into heat. 
  • Eco-friendly: Solar energy is 100% natural and doesn’t cause any harm to the environment, unlike conventional electricity that involves a lot of carbon emissions while producing. Solar water heaters are perfect for those who consider global warming and climate change severe issues and want to lower their overall carbon footprint. 
  • Get Subsidy on Installation: With increasing environmental awareness throughout the globe, governments from various countries are taking initiatives to promote green energy. For example, the Indian government offers subsidy up to 60% of the installation cost with some criteria.

Disadvantages of Solar Geyser

  • Huge Initial Costs: Although solar water heaters have zero to negligible recurring costs, their upfront costs can go out of budget. Even after availing of a subsidy and discount, these heaters are still costlier than most storage and instant geysers. Moreover, the installation itself is tedious and requires expert provision. It further increases the total upfront costs. 
  • Require Wide Space: To function properly, solar panels need to cover as much area as possible. You can expect these panels to cover half of the complete area of your roof. This can be problematic for some users, having limited space on the top.
  • Unreliable Performance in Monsoon: Solar water heaters are primarily useless in cloudy/rainy days. Their heating capacity suffers dramatically in such cases. So, there may be instances where your water geyser refuses to help when you need it the most. This is one major demerit of solar water heaters that can often be a deal-breaker. 

Best Uses of Solar Water Heater

  • In Areas That Experience Frequent Power Outages: Solar water heaters especially suit rural areas where electricity supply is scarce. Moreover, most governments provide additional incentives on green energy in such cases. 
  • In Households Where Utility Bills are High: As mentioned above, solar water heaters can significantly reduce your monthly utility bills. It’s just the upfront costs you have to be concerned about; the recurring costs of solar water heaters are practically zero. 

Why are Electric Water Heaters (geyser) Worthy?

Electric water heaters have been around for quite some time now after they’ve almost replaced fuel-based geysers. As the name suggests, electric water heaters use coils to convert electrical energy into heat energy. They excel in heating the water almost instantaneously and work regardless of climate conditions.

However, like solar water heaters, electric water heaters also have some pros and cons. Few demerits are sure to come along. 

Why are Electric Water Heaters Worthy

Electric Water Heater Benefits

  • Affordable: Unlike solar water heaters that can cost you around Rs. 20000-40000, electric geysers are priced way lower. Electric water heaters were created for small to large size of families within a price range of Rs. 3000-10000, thanks to the affordability. Storage water heaters especially excel in the pricing department. 
  • Versatile: Electric water heaters suit every location since they come in various sizes and functions. They come in handy in cold weather where solar water heaters fail to provide satisfactory results. 
  • Convenient and Easy to Use: Just twist the tap, and your electric geyser will supply heated water almost instantaneously. Storage water heaters take a bit of time to heat water, but both instant geysers and storage geysers share the same level of convenience. 
  • Easy Temperature Control: Thanks to the electrical coils that these water heaters use, you have complete control over the temperature of the water. Most electric water heaters have a temperature control knob to prevent scalding.
  • Less Prone to Natural Damaging Events: Since electric water heaters are installed inside the house and not on the rooftop, events like rain and snowfall do not affect these all-weather appliances. 
Also Read: Instant vs. Storage Geysers

Limitations of Electric Geyser

  • Not Environment-friendly: Green energy contributes very little to produce electricity; most of it is generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, etc. Thus, fossil fuels are depleting rapidly. So, if the environment is your concern, electric water heaters may not be the ideal choice for you. 
  • Increased Utility Bills: Electric water heaters, especially the storage variants, can significantly increase your utility bills in the long run. A study suggested that electric water heaters cause 25% of the utility bills in most households. 
  • Prone to Short Circuits: In case of severe voltage fluctuations, the cables and cords in the water heater can short circuit and cause serious harm to the user. 

Best Uses of Electric Water Heater

  • Ideal for Winter or Monson: Electric water heaters can be your best friend if you live in a relatively cold area with rare instances of proper sunlight. That’s because, unlike solar water heaters, electric geysers don’t rely on climate conditions. 
  • Instant Operation: Instant electric water heaters supply hot water with a mere twist of the bathroom tap. You can’t find such convenience and instantaneous operation in any other type of water heater. 
solar water heater vs electric geyser comparison and differences

Differences between electric and solar water heaters

Which water heater needs less space?

The size and weight of a water heater are essential factors to determine a suitable product for your home. They can occupy a large area of your roof and are extremely heavy. On the other hand, electric water heaters are compact and lightweight.

For example, the Racold Alpha Pro 100 LPD solar water heater weighs about 40 kilograms and has dimensions of 19.65 x 11.75 x 11.5 meters. In contrast, an electric water heater from the same brand (Racold) weighs just about 2.7 kilograms and occupies a volume/ area of only 0.33 x 0.21 x 0.20 meters. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Solar vs. Electric Water Heater: Installation Flexibility

Installing solar water heaters is tedious, time-consuming, and can’t be done without expert assistance. Installation of electric geysers, on the other hand, is way more accessible as compared to that of solar water heaters. However, expert assistance is required in either case. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Electric or Solar water heater – Which is portable?

You may define the portability of an appliance as the ability to move it around with ease. In this department, solar water heaters are out of the question. Considering their extreme weight and size, moving them from one place to another is extremely hard once you install them. On the other hand, electric water heaters are relatively lightweight and easily reinstalled at any location. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Which geyser heats water faster?

The heating time of a water heater is the time it takes to heat a single load of water. Under normal circumstances and constant sunlight, a solar water heater can take up to 5-6 hours to heat the water in the 200 L tank. However, electric geysers excel in this department with instant geysers that take only a few minutes to heat water. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Electric vs. Solar Geyser: Heating Capacity

The heating capacity of a water heater is the amount of water it can heat up at once. The heating capacity of geysers rely heavily on various factors such as pricing, the technology used, etc. For instance, you can expect to get 100-300 L capacity of heating from solar water heaters. In the case of electric geysers, the heating capacity is mainly capped at 50 liters.

For example, the Racold Alpha Pro 100 Lpd solar water heater comes with a whopping heating capacity of over 300 liters. As for the electric counterpart to go with the AO Smith HSE-VAS-X-025 electric geyser having a heating capacity of 25 liters. 

Winner: Solar Water Heater

Which water heater is safer to use?

User safety is essential when it comes to appliances. In that case, solar water heaters completely dwarf electric water heaters. While the latter are prone to voltage fluctuations and short circuits, solar water heaters pose no such threat.

Furthermore, solar water geysers are mounted on the roof and not in the interior, keeping users away from any harm whatsoever. 

Winner: Solar Water Heater

Weather dependency of water geysers

A geyser should function ideally regardless of the weather outside. However, a solar water heater won’t function well unless the sky is free of clouds. That being said, solar geysers rely heavily on climatic conditions. On the other hand, electric water heaters work flawlessly as long as electricity is available, whether it’s raining or snowing outside. Some people even prefer electric water heaters due to their extreme reliability. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Solar vs. Electric Geyser Electricity Consumption 

The electricity consumption of an appliance is the amount of wattage required by the appliance to operate correctly. Since solar water heaters rely solely on solar energy, their electricity consumption is zero.

However, electric water heaters such as the Faber FWG Vulcan are rated 2000 watts of power. Use this calculator to compute power consumption of all home appliances, including water geysers.

Winner: Solar Water Heater

Which geyser needs less cleaning and Maintenance?

Solar water heaters are exposed to the environment and thus require frequent cleaning. Solar panels attached to these geysers especially need attention to absorb sunlight effectively. In any case, the maintenance requirements of solar water heaters are little to none. On the other hand, you can expect your electric water heater to demand professional service once every 3-4 months. 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

What type of water heater is easier to use?

In general, both electric and solar water heaters are easy to use. However, instant geysers take the game even further. Just move the faucet, and your instant water heater will provide you with heated water. Overall, electric geysers provide better ease of use as compared to solar water heaters.

Winner: Electric Water Heater

Solar and Electric Geyser Price Range

Price range involves the initial investment you need to make while installing a water heater. In that case, Racold Alpha Pro 100 LPD solar water heater will cost you around Rs. 33,000. The price of electric water heaters is comparatively lower, with geysers starting at Rs. 2700 (e.g., Crompton rapid jet geyser). 

Winner: Electric Water Heater

If you live in a rather hot area that rarely encounters uncomfortable climate conditions, solar water heaters are the best bet for you. However, electric water heaters should satisfy you better if you don’t want to rely on the weather and don’t mind the extra recurring costs. Apart from solar and electric variants, you can also find gas geysers that run on LPG or PNG. 


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Soumya

Soumya is the editor-in-chief of Homeplace and a mechanical engineer with more than 8 years of experience. Having a long exposure to working with home and kitchen appliances in the fields of product development, manufacturing, maintenance, and quality control, he is an expert in this field.

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