Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Chelsea


Solar Water Heating Just Got Easier

July 17th, 2012 by  


DIY-ers will be happy to hear that a solar hot water system with simplified installation has hit the market.

The Liberty-Box has been developed without the extra pipes, pumps and holding containers that were traditionally needed to adapt pre-existing water heaters.

From Derek Markham of TreeHugger: “The Liberty Box, from EDS USA, uses the electricity generated from several photovoltaic solar panels to heat a second heater element in an existing water heater, instead of heating the water in secondary thermal collectors. The system is said to be able to provide 100% of the hot water needs of a family of four in the summer time, and 75% of the water heating demand for the winter time, with no batteries needed, no chance of pipes freezing or leaking, and no moving pieces (such as pumps) vulnerable to breakage or failure.”

The upfront cost? $4,000 for kits that include solar panels, or $1,000 for kits without them. (Though, the system does qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit, and there may be incentives in your state, county, or city that it also qualifies for.)

For more info on the kit, check out the Liberty Box brochure from EDS USA.

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About the Author

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.

  • anaconda anaconda

    I have no doubt that the next thing. We’ve seen it work. An amazing product, I have no doubt that the next generation of water heating, I think we all have to accept that, and welcome the new product on the market

    • Bob_Wallace

      Not cost effective.

      Put another way – A waste of money.

      • anaconda

        . Sooner or later you will need to decide whether to move forward or stay stuck with old technology Good luck anyway

  • GaryBIS

    Solar thermal water heating panels are about 50% efficient while solar PV panels are about 12% efficient.  For the same amount of heat to the water, you would have to have about 4 times as much collector area.  

    This does not seem like a good idea to me.

    Some people have proposed grid tied PV panels used in conjunction with a heat pump water heater.   I think this may make sense for some climates or some situations as the heat pump water heater raises the effective efficiency of the PV panels up to about 30% (but, at the cost of a lot of added complexity).

    There are already lots of good DIY solar water heating solutions out there and they can be done for about $1000 instead of $4000.


  • Snowmannine

    eh, definitely smells of greenwashing…

    • Matt

      If I have a eletric water heater, looks like needed for this. Why would a pay $1000 extra to tie my PV to the water heater? Green wash nothing, more like hog wash.

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