Referred to affectionately as “The Bush Capital”, Canberra is known for being a city of nature reserves and surrounding mountains, not to mention being the capital city of Australia.
It’s also a great place to save energy and money with solar hot water.
Along with the rest of the Capital Territory, Canberra enjoys a wonderful climate. Though not as sunny as some parts of the country, it still averages 105 sunny days, and another 141 partly sunny days, for 246 total days with sun.
That means solar hot water systems can be highly efficient money-savers in Canberra. And with water heating accounting for a staggering 25% of household energy use, this should be music to your ears.
In addition to this, solar hot water adoption in Canberra has been faster than almost anywhere in Australia. With it’s highly-educated population, with centres of solar research such as CSIRO and the ANU in town, and boasting one of the most active Branches of the Solar Council of Australia (SCA), Canberra has really taken to solar hot water systems.
So what are the best solar hot water systems for Canberra?
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Which Type of Solar Hot Water System is Best in ACT?
Put simply, solar hot water systems make use of the sun’s rays to heat household water, using collector units that are normally on the roof.
In practice, there are a few different types of systems that make use of this principle, each with advantages and disadvantages. Many of the factors determining the best system for you are site specific, and can involve things like:
- North-facing rooftops
- Clear solar exposure (nothing blocking or shading)
- The structure of your roof, and how much additional weight it can bear
- Existing utility in your home (gas or electric)
- Space within your garden or home for a water tank
The most surefire way to get a definitive answer for your home, is to get a quote from a professional plumber (see the form above), but at a glance, here are some of the bigger distinctions:
Evacuated Tube vs. Flat Plate Collector Systems
Within solar hot water systems, you will frequently read and hear people make reference to both “evacuated tube” and “flat plate” systems. They’re easy to tell apart, because evacuated tube systems look just like their name sounds–like a series of tubes. Flat plate systems look just like solar PV panels, only slightly thicker (because a tubes of water are snaking through them).
Both have pros and cons, but in short, evacuated tube systems are more expensive to purchase and install, but less expensive to operate over the long term.
In the early days of evacuated tube solar hot water, Enviro Friendly worked with several Canberra institutions to implement these systems on their premises, including: CSIRO, ADFA, Canberra Southern Cross Club, Canberra Institute of TAFE (Reid) and Gungahlin College.
Close Coupled “Rooftop” systems vs. Split Systems
Another important decision to make is whether you want to have both your collector and your tank up on the roof, or opt for a “split system”, with only the solar collectors on the roof, and the storage tank on the ground.
Keeping your storage tank on the ground is less visually obtrusive to most people, and also relieves your rooftop of several hundred kilograms of additional weight.
Heat Pump Hot Water Systems
Though not a “solar hot water” system in the strictest sense, hot water heat pumps are another brilliant technology that makes use of similar principles to achieve greater efficiencies and lower energy requirements than traditional storage systems.
Heat pumps work similar to a refrigerator or air conditioner, drawing heat out of one space, and discharging it into another. Through a series of compressors, evaporators and heat exchangers, the thermal properties of the ambient air are compounded to achieve greater temperatures and heat the water.
What Hot Water Rebates Are Available to Me in ACT?
Throughout Australia, there are a number of hot water rebates that heat pumps and solar hot water systems can qualify for. These are usually dependent upon: geography, purchase date, and the amount of electricity that is displaced by them over the course of their lifetimes (usually up to 10 years).
In ACT, qualifying energy-saving appliances (like high-efficiency hot water heaters) are potentially eligible for a couple different rebates:
1. Federal STC Rebates (Small Technology Certificates)
These are federal rebates available all over the country, though the exact number of credits and correlating rebate amount is dependent upon the brand and model of hot water heater you choose, your post code, and installation date. To get the exact amount, use the official government calculator here.
Many times these can even be handled upfront for a discount through your retailer or installer (check with them when you get your quote).
2. ActewAGL Energy Efficient Electric Water Heater Upgrade
This program from ActewAGL offers up to $750 to homeowners who upgrade to a new hot water heat pump. There are different criteria and applicable terms and conditions, which vary throughout the months and years, so make sure that you review the complete details here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Solar Hot Water?
Whether you want to save the environment, or save money, you can do BOTH. A well-chosen and designed solar hot water system, installed and used in the cleverest way possible, can slash your hot water bills by 70-90%. In an age when energy costs are outrunning inflation, investing a bit more in a solar hot water system in Canberra will save you more and more every year.
What if there isn’t enough sunlight to heat my hot water?
Don’t worry, during days or times when sunshine isn’t quite adequate to cover all of your hot water needs, backup boosters powered by gas or electricity can make up the difference.
Which solar hot water brands are available in Canberra?
What if I’m not in Canberra?
No worries! We can help you get free quotes on installing a new solar hot water system throughout the country in major metro areas (Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney) regional, and rural areas. Simply fill out the form near the top of this page, and indicate your state and post code.