Your Guide to Solar Hot Water

solar water heater

It is common knowledge that global warming is happening, and its also no secret that it is happening because of people. Our lives are directly impacting our environment for the worse so many scientists are coming up with innovative ways to change the way we do things in order to prevent more damage. The Australian government is promoting greener alternatives such as solar panels. Interestingly, heating liquid represents the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the standard Australian household. So in response to this, the government are now encouraging the use of solar hot water systems. These are often known as SHWS. Here is everything you need to know about them.


What is solar hot water?

Australia has an almost endless supply of sunshine, which can be converted into power. A solar hot water system uses the suns energy to heat liquid instead of using gas or electricity. This is a much more environmentally friendly method, as it is making use of a natural, renewable energy source that we have an abundance of. These systems can easily be used for residential purposes and can even sometimes be used for industrial applications.


How do SHWS work?

Solar hot water relies on collecting energy from the sun through the use of either flat panels or evacuated tubes. These are generally installed on the roof of a house facing north. Although the collection methods work slightly differently, they both have copper pipes that connect to a tank where the warm liquid is stored. The liquid delivered to the tank from the energy system is drawn from the top to use in the house. The liquid can sometimes get up to 60 degrees Celsius, however a temperature control valve will reduce the heat to about 45 before it comes out of the tap or appliances in the house. In Australia, the sun is able to offer enough energy to give most houses enough warm liquid. However, in winter or after a series of overcast days the system may need a little boost. So you aren’t without the use of warm liquid for days on end, these systems also have either an electric or gas boost system. These begin to work when there is no longer enough energy in the panels to heat what is needed. So even though you will use the energy of the sun most of the time, there is no need to worry about going without as there is a back up plan if it has been cloudy and cold.


How much water can it heat?

Depending on the climate you live in and how much energy you use, a solar hot water system is generally able to heat between 50%-80% of the amount you use. The rest will be dealt with by whichever booster you have installed. But you will often be using the energy from the sun to heat at least half of what you use, but in an Australian summer, it will probably end up being much more.


How much does a solar hot water system cost?

Costs of any system will vary depending on what you specifically have installed, which company you get to install it and where you live. However, sun based energy systems will usually cost somewhere between $3000-$7000 fully installed. This is a big investment, however, some governments will offer rebates for these systems, so depending on what state you live in, you may be eligible. Let’s also not forget about how much money you are likely to save in the long run by using this source of energy, instead of using the cheaper to install, but more expensive to run electric or gas options.