What is a solar diverter?

Fast read

Two ways to utilise extra solar energy generated by a solar system are solar batteries and solar hot water diverters.

While a solar battery stores excess energy that can be utilised later. Such as at night when the solar system is not producing electricity. A solar hot water diverter directs excess energy to the immersion heater in a hot water tank to heat the water.

While solar batteries can be used in every home to reduce energy expenses. Solar hot water diverters are particularly effective for homes with significant hot water demand.

Before choosing between the two solutions, it is vital to take into account aspects like energy consumption, regional feed-in tariff rates, and power rates.

What are the differences between solar diverters and solar batteries?

In many cases across Australia, solar system electricity production is more than your home consumes, especially during generation peak hours between 11 am and 3 pm. Two main ways that excess solar energy can be harnessed include a solar diverter or solar batteries, two vastly different technology processes.

This means any excess energy produced is sent to the grid, and you can get 5 to 10 cents per kWh for it. Unfortunately, as a homeowner, you will have to repurchase this energy from your retailer in the late afternoon. This is why it makes sense to use as much solar energy as possible or find a way to store it.

While your solar power system is busy producing energy from the sun’s light throughout the day to be used by your home’s appliances, solar batteries, and solar diverters begin to work when excess energy is produced. They both prevent this extra energy from being exported and aim to use it within the property before it gets exported. This is usually for a low payment per kWh, such as 5 to 7 cents.

Solar diverters for hot water vs a solar home storage battery

A solar diverter is usually installed next to a conventional electric hot water tank. So to take advantage of this technology. One needs a conventional electric hot water system to start with.

Solar diverters keep track of how much energy your home uses compared to how much energy your PV system produces. When you reach the point where more energy is generated than consumed. A solar diverter will jump into action as follows:

  • Excess energy will get diverted to the immersion heater, which is located in the hot water tank;
  • The water in the tank will then get heated with surplus solar energy. Instead of expensive grid energy;
  • Hot water will continue to be produced until another home appliance needs energy

Therefore a solar diverter allows you to use your excess solar energy to heat your water. This saves you from using energy from the grid to heat your water. Before purchasing a solar diverter, you need to consider whether or not it is worth the money. You should speak with a professional and weigh up your hot water consumption, the local Feed-in Tariff rate, the electricity rates you pay, and general technical considerations.

Solar batteries explained

In contrast, a solar battery follows a different procedure when there is excess energy produced:

  • The solar battery stores the excess energy that is being produced. Charging up until it has reached total capacity;
  • After the solar battery backup is full, excess energy will be sent to the grid;
  • The energy stored in the battery can then be used when your solar system is not producing any electricity.
sonnen solar battery in home instead of solar hot water diverter
Solar batteries support your home by storing energy for rainy days

The benefit of a hot water-producing solar diverter

If your solar system is large and your hot water consumption is not too high, your electric hot water system may be powered entirely by solar electricity. It may seem easy on paper, however, in reality, it is harder in winter. This is because there is less solar power available and more hot water is needed.

Along with this, solar diverters can have other features. One is that they can supply other household appliances, such as a pool pump, with the power they need if there is an excess of energy. This feature is called threshold power because it only supplies power to these appliances once it reaches a certain point.

So is one better than the other to save money?

Both of these technologies offer specific benefits that also overlap. For example, a solar diverter allows you to work your way towards producing free hot water as your heating system enjoys free solar electricity.

As a result, solar power diverters are much cheaper to add to a home energy system than a battery. At the same time, it saves the same amount of electricity going to the grid as a medium-sized battery. A solar diverter fully installed would cost only about 20% of the cost of a family-sized battery, or even less. In the industry, the solar diverters are called “The budget man’s battery.”

A solar battery stores solar energy for later use, helping you become less reliant on the grid and move towards independence. Furthermore, in the circumstance that there is a power outage. If your home battery system includes backup technology, you should have enough energy to keep the lights on during a blackout.

These technologies will not allow you to become completely independent from the grid. Solar panels reduce the need for grid electricity. With a large enough system, you can generate enough power to be self-sufficient.

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