Installing a solar thermal hot water system can give you financial benefits, such as lower electricity bills and slightly increased property value. You can get some Federal Government rebates to purchase them cheaper and will enjoy low maintenance costs. You can feel good about your reduced carbon footprint and the overall reduced reliance on fossil fuels.
While the upfront installation cost may be higher than an electric tank or heat pump hot water system, the long-term benefits can make it a more affordable and sustainable option for many homeowners. It's like, in so many cases, pay a bit more in the beginning and then gain more long-term savings.
Solar PV has become a formidable competitor to solar hot water. The electricity produced by this technology can then be used to generate hot water or for many other purposes, making it a more flexible technology.
Are there benefits to solar hot water systems?
Solar hot water systems are becoming less frequent on local roofs as they fight over valuable roof space with solar panels. However, they still offer a cost-effective way to generate hot water, so what are the benefits of solar hot water?
Fundamentally they all work by absorbing energy from the sun’s rays via solar collectors. Water fills the pipes within the collectors, allowing the sun’s heat to transfer into the water, which then flows as hot water into a storage tank
The only cost of a solar hot water system is the initial price for supply and installation and the ongoing costs for the backup booster energy that your system will rely on. Here are some of the benefits and some disadvantages of this mature technology.
There is a rebate available for Solar hot water
Solar hot water systems are eligible for Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs). This is a rebate that is available for solar installations in Australia. This is a handy financial incentive the Federal Government provides to incentivise using renewable energy and ultimately reducing the initial up-front cost of your solar hot water system. The STCs credits vary from region to region, so we recommend discussing your local rebate opportunity with your supplier.
If you ever left a hose out in the garden on a sunny day and later realised how hot the water in the hose has become, you actually “discovered” solar hot water technology. Inside the solar collectors, just like in a garden hothouse, copper pipes run inside, are filled with water and utilise the sun’s energy to heat the water in a tank. This technology is more straightforward than photovoltaic panels and quality systems. Solar hot water systems from Rheem or Solarhart can last many decades and require minimal maintenance.
Generating hot water on the cheap
Solar hot water is a long-term investment, and this technology carries a variety of financial benefits. Firstly there is a relatively low running cost. Since the hot water is generated using heat from the sun, electricity costs only become significant on cloudy days when the electric booster is utilised.
Over the system’s life, the savings in energy costs are most likely to pay for the price that the system costs to purchase and install. Negating the cost of your solar thermal system entirely. With electric and gas hot water costs soaring and taking up around a third of the average yearly power bills. The money you save over the long term means you end up with a free hot water system, earning you real money. While it may take a few years (solar hot water systems can be up to 50% more expensive than an electric tank-only system), it is still financially a sensible investment.
Lower running costs
A solar hot water system will most likely use 75% less electricity than a conventional hot water tank. So, in summer, one can anticipate minimal costs for hot water because the booster runs in winter. Roughly 50 to 60% of the hot water will probably come from the sun, while the remaining portion will be generated via the electric or gas booster. Of course, the final precise percentage of savings depends on how much hot water one uses and at what time of the day.
If, for example, your quarterly electricity bill is $600, then the hot water component in this bill is most likely somewhere between $ 175 and $200. You will pay between $700 and $800 per annum in hot water electricity costs. With a solar hot water system, the boosting cost is around $200 – giving you a real saving of $500 to $600 per year.
This technology can last 12, 15 or even 20 years, depending on brand and model. You can achieve a healthy hip pocket saving of over $5000 throughout the system’s life. Additionally, you’ll enjoy reliable hot water, considering this technology has undergone testing and use for many decades!
Just so you know, gas boosters are available with solar hot water systems. However, their use is decreasing due to ever-increasing gas prices.
Evacuated tube systems are some of the solar hot water technologies that were very popular a decade ago.
Increased property value
Prospective home buyers will find the prospect of producing hot water affordably and in an environmentally friendly manner appealing.
Because solar hot water systems are not cheap and start from around $3000 plus fully installed, having one on the roof and benefiting from the low running costs can increase the property’s value to some extent. This is more true for the solar hot water split systems, where the tank sits on the side of the house and the flat plate collectors on the roof. This creates an aesthetically more pleasing outcome than the panel and tank thermosyphon system plonked in the middle of the roof.
Evacuated tube systems, another form of solar hot water, can also look quite pleasing, as the photo above shows.
Low maintenance costs
Low maintenance costs are another financial benefit of a solar hot water system. Solar hot water systems are relatively low-maintenance compared to traditional ones. They have fewer moving parts and are less prone to breakdowns and malfunctions. This means homeowners can save money on maintenance and operations costs over the system’s lifetime.
The key components of a solar thermal system, such as the solar collector and storage tank, typically have durable and long-lasting designs, so they don’t require frequent replacements. In addition, most solar thermal systems have automatic controls and safety valves that regulate the water temperature so that they can operate without supervision.
As a result, the ongoing maintenance costs for a solar hot water system are typically lower than for other types of heating systems.
Conergy was a German solar hot water brand active in Australia from 2007 to 2015. Its competitor Solarhart has now taken over its market share
The environmental benefits of a solar hot water system are obvious. A solar hot water system prevails in the environmental benefit race if the electricity used for hot water comes from coal-fired sources in an electric hot water storage tank. Likewise, if the electricity used to produce hot water is generated through solar power, the same holds true. Then the environmental benefits of a solar hot water system are the same.
Increased energy security and independence
Should one have a blackout and I seek a hot shower, the hot water will run out relatively quickly. If, on the other hand, one purchased a solar hot water system. Then as long as one uses the hot water volume sensible, one could stay in the hot water supply indefinitely.
By using the heat generated from the sun, a solar hot water system can provide a reliable source of hot water, even in the event of a power outage or other disruption to the electricity grid. This can be especially important for homeowners or businesses in remote areas or prone to frequent power outages.