Are Solar Hot Water Systems Worth It?

The answer to this depends on how you currently heat your water: Electricity or Gas?

Upgrading from electric storage water heating

If you currently have an electric storage hot water system, a breakdown of your household energy consumption will probably look close to this:

energy use of hot water

You can see that around 25% of your electricity bill is used to heat your water.

Your upgrade options are:

1) Buy a hot water heat pump. This will still use electricity to heat your water but will combine it with the heat in the ambient air and reduce the amount of electricity you need to use by about 70%. If you put your heat pump on a timer to come on at 11am, then with a typical 6.6 kW solar panel system, that electricity will almost always be covered by your solar panels. A good heat pump comes it at $3000-$4000. 

2) Keep your old cylinder and invest in a ‘hot water diverter‘.  They divert solar electricity from your PV panels and put it into your hot water instead of exporting to the grid. A great solution if you have export limits or a low feed in tariff. A hot water diverter costs about $1000 without a cylinder. 

3) Buy a conventional ‘solar hot water’ system that uses the heat of the sun to directly heat the water in hot water panels. These cost about $4000-$5000.

Whether any of these options make financial sense depends on how much you pay per kWh of electricity to heat your water. If you pay regular retail prices for all your electricity ( 25c to 40c per kWh) then payback can be very compelling. If you heat your water with cheap off peak electricity at closer to 10-15c per kWh then your payback will be extended.

Upgrading from gas water heating

A typical Aussie home with a gas water heater uses about 14,000MJ of gas per year to heat their water. This is about $420 worth of gas. Saving 80% of this is worth $336 per year. 

Learn more about solar hot water systems

 If you are considering solar hot water, here’s a rundown on what type of system you should get, how much they cost, and what size system you need:

If there is anything at all that you want to know about solar hot water, buying a system, maintaining your panels, or anything else under the sun (pun intended) – just contact us we are really, really friendly and promise to reply in Plain English.

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