A general method for determining the financial viability of solar hot water systems ispresented. The method, illustrated by two examples, one a house in Canada, the other ahotel in the United Arab Emirates, uses the free Canadian Government program
to determine the most economical number of solar thermal panels on the basisof payback time and cumulative cash flow. A free program,
, is used to calculatepressure drop in the system, which allows selection of an appropriate circulator pumpsize. Financial viability of conventional 115 VAC grid powered circulator pumps arethen compared to payback time for direct coupled photovoltaic powered circulator pumpsystems.For small systems that heat only hundreds of liters of water per day, as for a typicalhousehold, the most economic and reliable system is often an integrated DC motor-pumpdirect coupled to a photovoltaic panel. For larger systems that heat thousands of liters of water per day, a conventional electronic controller and an AC pump is generally the moreeconomic option. Choosing the most economic circulator system can be done by using apayback time calculation program (retscreen.net) for each particular solar hot waterinstallation. There is no single best circulator pump solution; indeed, the best solutionmay be no circulator pump at all, so a general method is presented here to compareeconomics of various solar hot water system circulator pump options.