As one of the sunniest countries on the planet, it’s not surprising that more Australians are choosing clean, free energy from the sun, rather than costly electricity or gas, as their main energy source.

But when talking about solar, people often focus on solar power, and sometimes forget that there are other ways to use the sun for its energy. Like solar hot water, the original solar energy storage device.

So, what are the key differences between the two?

Solar Hot Water vs Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

Solar water heating is a simple and efficient process where energy from the sun is captured to heat water for your home. Collector panels installed on your roof use a dark surface to trap the sun’s heat and transfer it to the fluid circulating inside. Hot water is then stored in an insulated tank for future use.

Installing a solar hot water system is a smart way to reduce your grid-energy consumption, cut your energy bills and make a real difference to the planet. In fact, installing a solar water heater can help you save up to 1.6 to 2.7 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, the equivalent of taking a small car off the road. And in a recent survey through realestate.com.au, 79% of Australians believed having a solar hot water system increased the value of their home.

However, solar power systems use photovoltaic cells and an inverter to convert sunlight into electricity so it can be used in the home or stored in a battery for later . Solar power is another great way to significantly reduce your reliance on the grid and cut your energy bills as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

Which solar system should I start with?

If you are considering going solar, in an ideal world, you would install both solar hot water and solar power. But if you can only choose one system, it makes good sense to start with solar hot water. Here’s why:

Why you should choose solar hot water.

  1. Hot water is one of the biggest drains on a household’s energy budget, typically making up around 25% of the average Australian household’s energy use1. By choosing solar hot water as a first step, you can reduce your grid-energy consumption before you need to produce more.
  2. Solar hot water is incredibly efficient. Compared to solar power panels, solar hot water collectors generate more energy per square metre so it’s a smart way to maximise your solar investment.
  3. Because of its efficiency, solar hot water takes up less roof space than solar power. So it’s perfect for people with limited roof space or who plan on getting solar panels in the future.
  4. You can take advantage of solar hot water any time of the day or night. Like a home battery, it stores energy, but in the form of hot water, for use later on. It really is the original solar energy storage device.
  5. You can combine a solar hot water system with solar power and battery storage at any time to cut your energy bills and emissions even more.
  6. As well as traditional roof-mounted tanks, Solahart also has a range of Streamline Split-Systems that combine roof-mounted collectors with ground-mounted tanks that can be installed discreetly for minimal visual impact.

Solar water heaters are cost-effective, reliable, and use proven technology developed right here in Australia and pioneered by Solahart back in 1953.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does getting solar hot water make me eligible for government incentives?

Yes, solar water heaters are great for the environment, and the Australian Government Renewable Energy Target Scheme provides a mechanism that offers generous incentives to help you make the switch. The incentives come in the form of Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) that can be traded and sold on the open market or can be used as an upfront discount, to reduce the purchase price of your new system, which could save you up to $1,000 depending on a number of factors (4).

If I already have solar power, do I need solar hot water?

A good solar water heater can pretty much look after itself. The sun will heat the water, and a booster will kick in when the sun is not hot enough. If you are relying only on solar power to heat your water, you probably have noticed that it doesn’t just happen by itself. You need to set timers and controllers to sync solar generation and water heating. By adding solar hot water to your solar power system, it will be a case of ‘set and forget’ as you can let the sun do its job while contributing to the reduction of your energy consumption and electricity costs even more.

Now, if you are already generating more solar energy than you can use, a great solution would be to install a Solahart PowerStore – Australia’s first solar-smart electric water heater.

Does solar hot water mean that I have to have a tank on my roof?

No. At Solahart, as well as offering roof-mounted tanks, we also have a range of split systems that combine stylish collector panels with a ground-mounted tank, for less visual impact.

Does solar hot water work when it’s cloudy?

A solar water heater will still deliver hot water on cloudy and wet days.

Anyone who has ever been sunburnt on an overcast day knows that it takes more than a few clouds to block out the sun. While clouds may filter out some of the brightness, most of the sunlight still gets through. So, if you have solar hot water collectors on your rooftop, rest assured, they’re still working to produce hot water even on those wet and cloudy days.

However, continuous days of cloudy weather can sometimes reduce the efficiency of your solar water heater. Fortunately, Solahart Solar Hot Water systems have a backup available to ensure you can still enjoy instant hot water when the sun isn’t shining.

All Solahart Solar Water Heaters come with an inbuilt electric booster. This means that as soon as the water temperature drops below a certain level, the booster element kicks in and heats the water to the correct temperature. Solahart also has an optional gas-boosted model available where boosting only occurs when hot water is being used.

What do I do if my home isn’t suitable for solar?

Not every home is suitable for solar. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the benefits of renewable energy for your hot water needs. In this instance, a Solahart Atmos Heat Pump or Solahart PowerStore could be the option for you.

Solahart Promotions

Be sure to check out our current solar promotions. To find out more, click here.

Looking to add Solar Hot Water to your home?

Contact Solahart today on 1300 721 984 to find out more or enter your details below to get a free quote:

The following errors were found:

Sources and disclaimers:

  1. https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy/resources/other-renewable-energy-resources/solar-energy
  2. https://www.energy.gov.au/households/energy-basics-householders as at 13/05/2020.
  3. Energy savings of up to 65% shown is based on Australian Government approved TRNSYS simulation modelling of a Solahart 302L and using a medium load in Zone 3 and apply when replacing an electric water heater. Any savings will vary depending upon your location, type of Solahart system installed, orientation and inclination of the solar collectors, type of water heater being replaced, hot water consumption and fuel tariff. Maximum financial savings off your hot water bill are achievable when replacing an electric water heater on continuous tariff. Refer to solahart.com.au for further information.
  4. For a Solahart Solar Hot Water system, each STC represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity displaced over a 10 year period. The number of STC's which may be created for the installation of an eligible solar water heater varies with the size and model of the solar water heater and the region (or zone) in which the unit is installed. The value of an STC is not fixed and varies depending on market factors.
  5. Greenhouse Gas Emissions savings of up to 1.6 to 2.7 tonnes shown is based on Australian Government approved TRNSYS simulation modelling of a Solahart 302L and using a medium load in Zone 3 and the Scope 2 and 3 electricity emissions factors for purchased electricity by end-users published in the 2018 July edition of the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors handbook, and apply when replacing an electric water heater. Any savings will vary depending upon your location, type of Solahart system installed, orientation and inclination of the solar collectors, type of water heater being replaced, and hot water consumption.