Solar Hot Water: What to know

Water heating accounts for about 20% of a home’s energy usage. That is especially true if you live in colder climates, where it can go as high as 28%. It may not seem like it, but the truth is that water heating is the second largest expense in your home. That may be quite a shock to many.

With such a great demand for energy in water heating, this has also resulted in a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions from the average Australian home. The primary source is the family car if you have one. With such an impact on utilities and the environment, it makes sense that people started looking for a solution.

During the 1950s, Australia led the world to research flat plate solar water heaters. With the motivation to reduce energy consumption and, in turn, the source of greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, many governments have incentives for solar hot water systems. Victoria takes the lead with more than 36,000 solar hot water systems installed across the state in 2020 alone. That’s more than three times as Queensland takes second place.

What Is A Solar Hot Water System?

The basic function of a solar hot water system is straightforward and intuitive. It’s simply a system that uses the sun to heat water through a series of flat plates, tubes, or tanks. It only has two main components: a collector to trap the sun’s heat and a storage tank that keeps the water at a warm temperature.

Solar Hot water systems are broadly categorized as passive or active. Passive systems are more affordable since gravity primarily moves water between the collector and storage tank. On the other hand, active systems require circulating pumps which means it still needs a minimal amount of electricity to operate. 

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    Further subcategories for solar hot water systems are designed for specific climates, tasks, capacities, and budgets. Picking the right system for your home will depend largely on your location, climate, and water usage. Reputable local installers can help you as they carry the specific systems best suited for the area.

    How Much Does Solar Hot Water Cost?

    Solar hot water system prices may vary depending on your location and the type of system you’re installing. Passive systems are the more affordable choice over active systems, but it goes the other way around in terms of efficiency.

    An average Australian household system would cost about $4,000 to $8,000. Passive systems with flat plate collectors can start as low as $3,000 and rarely exceed $4,500. This may give passive systems the appearance of the more attractive option. However, the weight and size of passive systems may not be suitable for your home. You’ll also need to consider frost that can freeze water and damage the system components.

    How About a Solar PV System?

    An active solar hot water system is more efficient but requires electricity. So if you think about it, why not just get a home solar PV system instead? You’ll save on electricity in the long run and have green energy to power your water heating needs. This makes a lot of sense if you don’t have the space to fit both solar PV and hot water systems.

    More often than not, getting a solar PV system is the more cost-efficient solution. But many families are now recognizing the benefit of having both systems. With its push for greener solutions, Australia has many rebates incentives to have a combination of either or both systems installed in your home.

    Solar hot water systems are also much more efficient in turning the sun’s energy into heated water than PV systems generating electricity. So in homes with very little space for solar panels, a solar hot water system will make much more sense.

    Is A Solar Hot Water System Worth It?

    The answer to this will largely depend on your location, climate, and real estate. If you cannot install solar panels for a solar PV system, solar hot water systems are the next best thing. Not only do they take up less room, but it’s also much more efficient in converting solar energy to proper heat. Families are also seeing the benefit of installing both systems for even more energy savings.

    If we consider a place like Adelaide and a single individual living alone in a townhouse, getting a whole solar power system is possible but maybe inconvenient due to limited space. A solar hot water system would make much more sense since it doesn’t take up as much space, is much cheaper to install, and will result in almost immediate savings. Since the winters are generally mild in Adelaide, you won’t be losing much efficiency because the heat supply is sufficient for a single individual.

    In a family of four with an average-sized home, an adequate solar power system is possibly the more cost-efficient choice. Water heating for large volumes is much more efficient with active systems that require electricity anyway, so they might as well cut the costs in power generation. But by adding a solar hot water system alongside a solar power system, the family can further reduce their impact on the environment and increase their savings at the same time. However, it may take a bit longer for the return on investment considering the costs of solar power and hot water system installations.

    About Us

    Natural Technology Systems are solar providers that have been in business for over 30 years; we are a business that South Australia trusts and provides expert, obligation-free quotes and advice. We provide customers with the most cost-effective way to slash those power bills for your home or business.

    Click here for a quick quote for your solar power needs, or contact us today at (08) 8344 7298. You can also email us for expert, obligation-free advice

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