Portable Solar Hot Water System – Cheap to run but not so cheap to buy – which solar hot water system is right for you?
If you have a shocking energy bill or need to replace your hot water system, you may be wondering if there is a solar or heat pump option. Is it worth the initial cost and will it really save you money in the long run? The short answer for most homes is yes and yes.
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A well-chosen solar hot water system or heat pump may be more expensive to start with, but for most homes it will be significantly cheaper than a conventional electric or gas system. It’s good for your bank account and good for the planet. And part of the purchase price can be covered by government discounts and incentives.
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Solar energy usually cannot provide constant heating of hot water. The water in the tank may be too cold on days with little sunlight or in the evening when the need for hot water is high during the day. It needs to be strengthened (raised to temperature) using an electric element or a gas burner.
Solar hot water systems that add electricity tend to be a bit cheaper to buy, and they make extra sense if you have solar panels to keep your electricity costs down. But hot water systems often need to be boosted at night (if you buy more expensive electricity from the grid), so solar panels can only supply part of the heat gain. Boosting electricity is effective, but not always the most efficient, as the boost kicks in when the water in the tank starts to get too cold.
Gas lifting systems can work on natural (mains) gas or LPG cylinders. LPG is usually more expensive, but is a good option if you have LPG cylinders installed. A gas booster is usually a continuous flow (“instantaneous”) gas water heater – if you turn on the hot water tap in your home but the water coming from the tank is too cold, the heater will kick in and heat the water to room temperature. the correct temperature before it reaches the tap. This type of booster is often the most efficient because it only heats the water when the hot water is actually being used.
The final cost for solar and hot water heat pumps can vary as it depends on the cost of the system, installation, rebates and the cost of Small Technology Certificates (or STCs) at the time of purchase.
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Solar and thermal systems for hot water manufactured by Rheem, Solahart, Bosch, Chromagen, Apricus, Dux, Stiebel Eltron and others. Many companies love
Most households switching from a gas or electric tank system to a solar hot water system or heat pump should find that their hot water costs will drop by at least 50%, and in many cases more.
Payback times will vary depending on the system you’re replacing, your household’s hot water consumption and (of course) the size and cost of the new solar or thermal hot water system. Here’s a rough guide.
The power to run an electric tank’s hot water system can be as much as a quarter of your electricity bill. That’s a lot of electricity to pay for (unless most of it comes from your own solar PV panels). If you replace an electric hot water system with a solar or heat pump hot water system, the cost savings of a new system can pay for itself in about five years or less.
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Replacing a gas hot water system with a solar or heat pump hot water can have a longer payback. Because gas is a very efficient way of heating water. For small households with relatively low hot water usage, a continuous flow (“instant”) gas hot water system is often relatively inexpensive to install and operate.
Also, it may not be easy to replace a gas tank hot water system with an electric heat pump. For example, new electrical circuits or connections may be required as part of the installation.
You can estimate the cost of replacing your hot water system by looking at your gas bills. A solar hot water system can reduce these by around 60% or more, depending on how dependent your gas bill is on hot water (for example, if your home has a gas heating system, this can be a much bigger factor). but hot water on the gas bill). The payback period for gas hot water systems is usually 5-10 years.
The governments of some countries operate energy efficiency incentive programs. Check the federal government’s energy website to find discounts and rebates for hot water systems. Select the country you live in and select “hot water” under “I’m interested in these areas”. Or simply contact your state government. Some manufacturers and suppliers have discount calculators on their websites.
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The primary financial incentive for purchasing a new solar or thermal hot water system comes from Small Technology Certificates (STCs) – “solar rebates” – regulated by the federal government. They are used in all parts of Australia. Solar and heat pump systems qualify for a certain number of STCs depending on the efficiency of the system and where you live.
In most cases, the easiest way to use STCs is to sell them to the company that supplies the new hot water system – they usually “pay” you with a discount on the system you buy. Usually the price set for your system will affect this discount, but make sure the price is clear about this.
You can also trade STCs yourself, but it’s a bit more difficult and you might not get the best results.
Solar and hot water systems for hot water are generally suitable between 20-40 STC. Market prices for STCs vary, but are usually around $30-$40. So for a system eligible for 30 STCs, at $30 per STC, you get $900. Different suppliers may offer different amounts for STC.
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At the time of writing, these government incentives also apply to solar or heat pumps for hot water.
If you’re considering a solar or heat pump system for hot water, it’s a logical step to also consider a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system to help power your home. This is of course another upfront cost, but for most Australian homes, solar panels pay for themselves within a few years due to savings on electricity bills.
If you have a solar PV system, you should also consider a solar inverter. A solar controller is a device that takes excess solar energy (for example, energy produced by solar panels that your home does not need at the time) and uses it to heat the hot water tank. Usually this excess energy is exported to the grid and you are paid an additional tariff for it (a few cents per kWh). However, for most home owners at this time the extra prices are not generous and it may be more economical to use some of the excess capacity in the hot water system.
The solar heat exchanger can be used with a conventional electric hot water storage system or an electric boosted solar hot water system.
Solar Water Heating
Can you save an old electric hot water tank and power it with solar panels?
Yes you can! Make sure the electric hot water system is not set to heat at off-peak power during the night. For best results you should use a timer (load transfer timer) on your hot water system, make sure it runs on the solar panels during the day, for example between 10am and 3pm. These switches vary and usually must be installed by an electrician. A good electrician or local solar installation company can help you here.
Note that this method has enough excess solar PV power to run the hot water system and household appliances. If not – for example, if you have a small solar PV system and have several other appliances running during the day, there may not be enough to heat the water and the hot water system will run out. using expensive network power. So this method works best if you have a large solar PV system or if the rest of the house needs relatively low energy during the day.
Keep in mind that using “surplus” solar energy to power your hot water system will waive some additional tariffs, but don’t worry – it’s a financially sound option.
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Installing a solar hot water system can be more complicated than a conventional electric or gas system. It won’t happen the next day, so if you can’t live without a hot shower for a while, this might not be a good option.
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