The second-most populated city in Australia, Melbourne is home to many of Australia’s best-known landmarks, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria and the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
It’s also a fantastic place to save energy and money with solar hot water.
Along with the rest of Victoria, Melbourne enjoys a wonderful climate. Though not as sunny as other parts of the country, it still averages 46 sunny days, and another 139 partly sunny days, for 185 total days with sun.
That means solar hot water systems can be highly efficient money-savers in Melbourne. And with water heating accounting for a staggering 25% of household energy use, this should be music to your ears.
So what are the best solar hot water systems for Melbourne?
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Which Type of Solar Hot Water System is Best for Victoria?
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.
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.
They produce similar savings to most on-the-roof systems, but are cheaper to install, as the connections are the same as an old-style electric storage hot water system. And of course, they are also eligible for relevant solar hot water rebates.
What Hot Water Rebates Are Available to Me in Victoria?
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 Victoria, 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. Victoria’s State Level REPS Scheme (Retailer Energy Productivity Scheme)
This program offers Victorian households a $1,000 rebate on the purchase of a heat pump or solar hot water system. A handful of qualifying criteria apply.
To be eligible for this incentive, you must:
- have a combined household income of less than $180,000 per annum before tax
- be an owner-occupier of a home valued at under $3 million
- be replacing an existing hot water system that is older than 3 years from the date of purchase
- have an eligible hot water system installed on or after 19 August 2018
- choose a product that is on the Clean Energy Regulator’s Register of solar water heaters
Households will only be eligible for one rebate under the Solar Homes package. You cannot have received a solar PV rebate or a battery rebate under the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 Victoria?
Virtually all the major brands of solar hot water systems are available in Melbourne and throughout a majority of Victoria, including Solahart, Neopower, Rheem, Rinnai, Apricus, and Dux, to name a few.
What if I’m not in Melbourne?
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, Canberra, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Perth, Sydney) regional, and rural areas. Simply fill out the form near the top of this page, and indicate your state and post code.