In the age of energy efficiency, more and more homeowners are turning to renewable energy options to look after the environment and help save them money. Solar power is a no-brainer but less people are familiar with solar hot water and how this works in the overall scheme of things.

There are various options when it comes to solar hot water and before considering each one, there are 5 questions that you need to ask:

  • What type of water heating does your home currently have? (eg. electric instantaneous system, solar thermal, storage tank)
  • Is your hot water on a dedicated circuit (controlled load)?
  • Is your tariff type ‘time of use’ or flat rate
  • How big is your solar power system and do you generate surplus energy?
  • Do you schedule the heating of your water (and if so, does it user a timer, solar diverter or green circuit)?

Once you’ve gone over these questions, it’s time to look at the options available for solar hot water, and decide which is best for you. For more info on these systems we recommend checking out Cola Solar.

Types of solar hot water

There are 3 common types of solar hot water systems in Australia.

  • Evacuated tube collectors
  • Flat plate collectors
  • Heat pumps

The first 2 options both involve placing a solar “collector” on your roof which takes heat directly from the sun and transfers it to your home’s hot water. The third option actually uses pumps which pull heat from the air  and use this to heat the water.

Evacuated Tubes

As mentioned above, this type of solar hot water uses solar collectors (placed on the roof) to absorb heat from the sun. This is then transferred via evacuated tubes to your hot water system. Advantages of evacuated tubes include cost effective, 50% more efficient than flat panels, light and easy to maintain, great in cold weather and is frost resistant. Apricus is a very popular brand for this type of hot water system.

Flat Plate Collectors

This option is essentially similar to evacuated tubes but uses flat plate collectors on the roof instead. While cheaper, they don’t absorb as much sunlight but are a great low cost way to get solar hot water. It usually comprises a large sheet of copper or aluminium to absorb as much solar radiation as possible, heating water inside copper pipes which is transferred into the home.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are an exciting innovation that uses advanced technology to grab thermal energy directly from the air. This system produces hot water for your home around the clock and can lower your water heating usage by 65%. If you own an electric storage heater, this is a quick way to replace it. The best thing about it is you don’t need rooftop collectors either, so less moving parts and less maintenance. Chromagen and Reclaim Energy are two of the popular brands for heat pumps.

shower- head solar hot water

Overall, investing in solar hot water definitely does mean cheaper showers. And cheaper heated water in general! Rebates are also available by some state governments. Choice has a great review on the various options.

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly way to heat your water that will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, consider one of these options.