Did you know Australia has the world’s highest solar radiation at 58m petajoules per year, approximately 10,000 times larger than its total energy consumption?1

So, what if we said you could use the sun to heat water for showers, washing and other activities?

With solar hot water, you can. Plus, enjoy the extra benefits of:

  1.   Significant savings on your hot water energy use
  2.   Reducing your carbon emissions to do your bit for the environment; and
  3.   Potentially increase the value of your home

In this article, we will explore these three key benefits in greater detail, and debunk some key myths associated with solar hot water. However, before we do, we will explain the difference between solar hot water and solar power (also known as solar photovoltaic or PV) to give you more of an idea of how they work.

Solar Hot Water vs Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

When talking about solar, people often associate this technology with solar power, sometimes forgetting that there are other ways to use the sun for its energy.

Most solar water heaters use roof-mounted solar collectors to heat your water, and a storage tank to keep it hot and ready for use when you need it.

But how does this work? It's a simple principle; hot water rises. As the sun heats the water in the solar collectors, the increase in temperature causes the water to rise and move through an insulated pipe into a storage tank. As a result, you are taking advantage of Australia's abundant sunshine for your hot water needs instead of relying on the electricity grid or gas network. This type of solar technology is known as Solar Thermal.

In frost-prone regions, the design is different in that the collector contains a fluid which also rises when heated by the sun, and then it transfers this heat to your water stored in the tank.

The other increasingly popular design utilises a ground-mounted tank together with a small circulator pump, to send the water to roof-mounted collectors for the cycle to begin.

In contrast, PV systems generate electricity from sunlight. Solar panels are made up of many photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity so it can be used in the home or stored in a battery for later use.

Benefits of Solar Hot Water

Solar Hot Water has many benefits that play a key role in providing peace-of-mind to Australians.

1. Don’t spend more money on heating water than you should

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can make it easy to overlook additional ways to save money.

At Solahart, we think it makes good sense to start your solar journey by reducing the amount of energy you use. Installing a solar hot water system is a great way to minimise the energy you consume from the grid or gas network by using the sun to produce the hot water your home requires.

Then, when you’re ready, add a solar power system and start producing your own energy to save even more.

Key stats and facts:

  • Conventional water heaters typically make up around 25%2 of a household’s energy use in Australia. Therefore, by replacing with a solar water heater, you could make a big difference to your energy use.
  • If you replace your current gas or electric water heater with a solar water heater, you could save up to 65%3 of your hot water energy use.
  • Solar water heaters are cost-effective, reliable, and use proven technology developed right here in Australia and pioneered by Solahart back in 1953. 
  • Solar water heaters are great for the environment, and the Australian Government Renewable Energy Target Scheme provides a mechanism that offers generous incentives to help you make the switch. The incentives come in the form of Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) that can be traded and sold on the open market or can be used as an upfront discountrebate to reduce the purchase price of your new system which could save you around $1,000 depending on a number of factors4.

2. Make your contribution to the environment

You can enjoy your showers, complete the washing and other household activities, knowing you are doing your bit to reduce greenhouse emissions. By using a renewable source to heat your water, you are also helping the environment.

Key stats and facts:

  • Did you know that a Solahart solar water heater can help you save up to 1.6 to 2.7 tonnes of carbon emissions per year?5
  • This is equivalent to taking a small car off the road.
  • Compared to solar power panels, solar hot water technology uses collector panels that are much more efficient per square metre. So, if your roof space is limited and you’re looking to maximise your solar production, choosing a solar water heater makes a lot of sense.

3. Increase the value of your home

Did you know that installing a solar water heater could potentially increase the value of your home? According to research from realestate.com.au and Origin Energy in April 2015, 78% of Australians surveyed said that a solar hot water system would add value to a home.

Key stats and facts:

  • 75% of renters said that they would pay extra rent to live in a property with solar energy.
  • Two out of five said they would be willing to pay an extra $10 per week.
  • People on the lookout for a home can refine their search to include eco-friendly appliances on realestate.com.au, including solar hot water.

Debunking Solar Hot Water Myths

Solar hot water is a game-changer for families across Australia.

However, there are some myths/misconceptions out there that have the potential to shape your buying decisions when it comes to solar. We are here to debunk them:

It most certainly does!

When thinking of solar, people often think of solar power, which means they are unaware of solar hot water and the benefits it provides.

As mentioned, PV and solar hot water systems are different. PV generates electricity from sunlight, whereas solar hot water uses the heat from the sun to heat water and then stores it so it’s ready when it’s needed.

PV can certainly help you reduce your electricity costs as you rely less on the grid. However, you may be able to save even more by reducing the energy you need to produce for your home when you use a solar water heater to heat your water.

Many solar hot water systems have a tank installed on the roof.

However, if you want to minimise visual impact, you can still enjoy a solar hot water system by installing a Solahart Streamline split system.

Put simply, a split-system solar water heater is where the solar collectors are installed on the roof while a hot water tank is discreetly installed on the ground. 

Find out more about Solahart Streamline split systems here.

Solar hot water heaters come with either an electric or gas booster to ensure the water is heated to the correct temperature on those cloudy days.

So the sun will heat your water on sunny days, and the booster will take over where necessary, to ensure you don’t run out of hot water.

There are instances where solar collectors are not suitable due to reasons such as location and climate.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of renewable energy for your hot water needs. In this instance, a Solahart Atmos Heat Pump or Solahart PowerStore could be the option for you.

Solahart Powerstore

The Solahart PowerStore is a game-changer.

Australia’s first solar-smart electric water heater, Solahart PowerStore takes excess energy from your solar power system and uses it to heat water, instead of allowing it to be fed back into the grid. So, in essence, it stores energy like a battery, but in the form of hot water.

Solahart PowerStore is designed to work with both new and existing solar power systems. You can find out more here.

Solahart Atmos Heat Pump

A Heat Pump is a great, energy-efficient option, particularly for installations not suitable for solar  water heaters.

A heat pump works similarly to a fridge or air-conditioner. Heat is absorbed from the air and transferred into the water through a heat exchanger. There are two separate flows: the water flow and refrigerant flow. You can find out more about each in the video below.

Solahart Atmos Heat Pump