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Solar hot water in Canberra?

By butterflygirl - 7 January 2011 32

We are on the market for a new hot water system as our old electric model is cactus.

I’m wondering if anyone has any comments on their experience with solar hot water in Canberra, brands, efficiency, relability?

I am currently comparing Solahart and Edwards. Edwards has a stainless steel tank and seems to have better quality fittings, but the panels are not as efficient as the Solahart ones. I’m concerned that in winter this will mean more days using the booster. Solahart seems to have great efficiency, and gets more RECs than the Edwards, but the tank is steel and hence has to have a sacrificial anode.

Thanks for any info you can give!

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Solar hot water in Canberra?
16
AussieRodney 2:34 pm
08 Jan 11
#

I have a Hills system, installed (I think) by Green Frog. Absolutely love it.

It has evacuated tubes on the roof, the tank inside in the laundry & a pump to circulate the hot water downwards. The hot water is stunningly hot, but gets mixed with cold water to reticulate at the maximum allowable of 55 degrees C.

We put the booster on a timer, which only activates in the late afternoon – if the water is not hot by then, then it needs a boost. IMHO, not worth stuffing around with off peak.

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17
Kan 4:16 pm
08 Jan 11
#

I wouldn’t touch an Edwards. My parents had a Solarhart for 17 years and it didn’t miss a trick and it saved them thousands of dollars in electricity bills. They replaced it with the supposedly superior Edwards which has given them nothing but trouble for the past five years.

I’ve also heard positive feedback about the Hills systems.

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18
Trad_and_Anon 11:29 pm
08 Jan 11
#

Hi there – I have been looking into this as I want to put in a solar H/W system. There are so many spivs in this area – and despite supposed accreditation, standards for systems and performance guarantees, I am finding it difficult to locate objective and independent information to validate the claims – and make an informed decision.
Many systems do seem to work; some folks are happy; some are not happy; some installations have gone well and others have been nightmares.
It does appear the evacuated tube systems are the most efficient going and within those systems there are two types: (1) heat pipes and (2) the U tube system. [Google to find the difference.] The U tube system is claimed to be 10% more efficient that the heat pipe; but this is offset against the fact that a standard heat pipe system for a 315L tank is 30 tubes but it is just 15 tubes for a U tube system. I have not been able to find out if both systems run side by side on the same day will produce the same amount of hot water.
The marine grade S/S storage tank is the way to go, because (a) the vitreous enamel tank breaks down under the very hot temps generated (+80Deg C) and it requires the sacrificial anode be replaced every 5 years or so, whereas a S/S tank does not need that sort of maintenance. It will last for 10+ years, so repays the additional investment.
The other thing to watch are the hidden extras: some providers offer an all inclusive price (includes installation ; other providers do not and you have to arrange that yourself or use the provider’s installers (usual quoted cost $900 – $1400 – which is a bit of a rip off). Another hidden cost can be a pitching frame required for flat roofs. These can cost between $80 and $600 and some sort of hotwater fuse to prevent scalding. This can be up to $300.
What I am doing is getting itemised quotations and also asking a plumber who has worked on our drain to see if he can install. Installation is a very simple job and requires apart from a plumber an electrician, if the system is electric boosted.
Then there are RECs. These are trade-able certificates and are nothing more than a hamfisted attempt to use a market mechanism to regulate the “efficient” installation of solar systems. What they really are in reality are a whole lot of propeller economists living out their really grubby fantasies that the market can solve all problems. It over complicates a simple matter and attempts to create an artificial market where one can not exist owing to the nature of the bests. They should just read Adam Smith: somethings cannot be markets. But I digress.
The two systems I have been looking at closely is AAE and Solar Lord, but just today saw a Hills system that I’ll investigate.
I’m gradually learning more about solar hot water than I want to or that it is probably healthy for my sanity to know. It is further proof that more choice is not necessarily better than less and market mechanisms are not good regulators because they require victims to work out which are the dodgy systems so others can learn for their fellow citizens’ mistakes. I have better things to do with my remaining years and my money than live out some propeller heads’ fantasy and theory but the exorbitant cost of electricity (owing to craven mismanagement of Australia’s infrastructure by economists and their willing executioners, the pollies) is forcing my hand. I would like objective standards and tests.
When I work out what to do, I’ll post the results so everyone can enjoy my mistake.
A good site to look at for discussion of different systems is:
http://www.ata.org.au
I feel better now.

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19
olfella 10:08 am
09 Jan 11
#

AussieRodney said :

I have a Hills system, installed (I think) by Green Frog. Absolutely love it.

We put the booster on a timer, which only activates in the late afternoon – if the water is not hot by then, then it needs a boost. IMHO, not worth stuffing around with off peak.

I have one of these as well, and like you, absolutely love it. I had off peak before and still use this as my booster. I use the theory that if the tank needs a boost then the thermostat will call for it when the off peak comes on, if not then no harm done.

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20
screaming banshee 9:27 pm
19 Sep 11
#

As a follow up to this, what sort of prices did your systems come to?

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21
2604 9:58 pm
19 Sep 11
#

screaming banshee said :

As a follow up to this, what sort of prices did your systems come to?

We have a Hills evacuated tube system, which we installed about six months ago.

It came to about $4200 installed, after all the rebates.

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22
parle 11:12 pm
19 Sep 11
#

2604 said :

It came to about $4200 installed, after all the rebates.

with current off peak electricity prices and my usage it would take me 247 months to get the $4200 back, all it has to do is not require replacement and for me to not move in that 20+ years and month number 248 would be sweet.

Add to that 20 years of dinner party conversation on how my water from a solar hot water service is amazing, as if hot water never existed before then, and this all sounding pretty good.

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23
dungfungus 8:15 am
20 Sep 11
#

If you ignore the constant bagging that the Canberra Times give them, get a Dux Airoheat heat pump unit with the defrost chip. Siting is crucial – must be on the North side of your house with plenty of air-space. They are incredibly cheap to run, especially in the warmer months but more importantly they don’t need the sun to shine.

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24
sepi 9:26 am
20 Sep 11
#

Electricity costs are going up, but the sun will always be there.

I’m very happy to have solar. It is also a good way to reduce energy usage, which is good for everyone, not just me.

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25
Deref 9:32 am
20 Sep 11
#

Deref said :

Give some thought to a reverse cycle system. We replaced our old off-peak electric unit with a Rheem unit about a year and a half ago and it’s been brilliant, including through winter.

I’ll second that. Ours has been in for a couple of years now and it’s been excellent.

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26
butterfly02 1:38 pm
23 Oct 11
#

Well, it’s taken most of the year but I am finally reporting back on what we did.
We’ve got a Hills evacuated tube system, which sits on brackets to allow better sun capture during winter.
I think the final cost after RECs etc was about $4500.
Envirofriendly installed the unit, but we have had a few problems. In particular the pumps have been problematic and have required a lot of phone calls and service visits to fix things. Thankfully as it’s still under warrenty this has not cost us anything, but I hope that the current pump they have put on is going to be a good one and will last the distance.
We had to boost for all of winter, possibly partly due to the pump problems.
Since they have fixed it it’s working fine, and no boosting of course with this beautiful weather we’re having.
So in summary, I still don’t know what the best option is, although we are happy with the tubes I think we would also have been happy with the Solahart.
In repsonse to parle, I guess we’re not all doing it just for the money. And yes, it is a long term payback, but as none of us really know what is going to happen with electricity prices it could be shorter than you think.

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27
Deref 1:42 pm
23 Oct 11
#

Pork Hunt said :

Bloody Cathodics and their sacrificial anodes…

LOL. Good one.

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28
matt31221 8:02 pm
23 Oct 11
#

I have spoken at length with my collegues about modern solar hot water systems, and the consensus is – this is what everyone around ACT should have gotten instead of plain solar panels for power generation.

Electric storage hot water systems consume alot of power and they make up the majority of your electricity bill (unless you have a kilm or you run your oven 24/7 and have heaps of downlights). They really suck the juice all day long. Aparently the new gen solar hot waters are so excellent and efficient they will smash your electricity bill into little pieces. If all of us had one of these systems each then Canberra would indeed be a green city – even with all the aircons.

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29
2604 10:57 pm
23 Oct 11
#

matt31221 said :

I have spoken at length with my collegues about modern solar hot water systems, and the consensus is – this is what everyone around ACT should have gotten instead of plain solar panels for power generation.

Yeah, but solar panels with a feed-in tariff allow people to abate carbon for the totally reasonable cost of about $600 per tonne. “Reasonable” because some other mug is paying for it.

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30
mtrax 9:21 am
07 Dec 12
#

I’m also looking at a Solar Hot water system, and wanted to know if people can recommend some installers , specifically the by Apricus or Hills ie a Evacuated tube with Gas boost.
thanks

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