November 30, 2016

Choosing the Right Type of Hot Water System

Hot water systems are an integral part of every Australian home, and even more so for people living in colder regions. Deciding which water heating system to buy is no easy task as your choice will have a huge impact on how you shower and on long-term finances. You might be thinking of replacing your existing system with a newer one of the same variety, but why not check out the other available options?

Since water heating accounts for almost a quarter of the energy used by a household, choosing the optimum variety can save you a lot in monthly electricity bills. Needless to say, heating systems that consumed lower energy also tend to be more environmentally friendly. So, if you’re planning to purchasing a new hot water system take a look at the Hot Water Brisbane guide to the various systems available.

The Pros and Cons of Various Hot Water Systems

When choosing a HWS, you need to decide on a heating method. Usually, these machines come in the following types: electricity, heat, gas, or solar pump. Some of the key advantages and disadvantages of each type are discussed below:

Electric Hot Water System

These varieties of water heating systems are widely obsolete in Australia due to their relatively high expenses and large greenhouse emissions. Even though an electrically heated water system might be cheap to buy and set up, it can end up costing you a lot in the long run.

Electric hot water system

Moreover, here in Australia, legislation has been passed to ban these less efficient systems and the gradual phase-out process is now underway.

Pros

• A storage tank heated by electricity is available cheaply on the market and will not cost much to install

• It can be used in conjunction with water and space heating systems that include indirect water heaters and tank-less coils

• Systems that have been designed to run on off-peak electricity are relatively cheaper but do need a larger tank as the water heated overnight is intended to last the entire day

• These systems can be installed both indoors and outdoors with relative ease and do not require much alteration to existing building layout

• Electrical instantaneous water heaters are capable of producing hot water on demand

• The price range of electric hot water systems begins at around $300 and is very likely you need not spend more than $1500 for a high-end model (cost of installation not included)

Cons

• Most of the systems needed a huge water tank that is somewhere around 125 L to 160L for a household of four people and a system of 250L to 315L for off-peak

• Known to generate a lot of greenhouse emissions and is thus considered to be not so environmental friendly

• Even though installation may be cheap, the monthly electricity bills from running an electric hot water system throughout the entire night can take a toll on your budget

• Australian legislation has banned these systems so it may be difficult for you to get hold of one right second hand and in some cases even illegal to install

Solar Hot Water System

This variety is by far the most eco-friendly water heating system. They may seem to be expensive upfront but can save you a lot in the long-term. If you think you’ve got the ability to spare an extra $1500-$2500 for the initial investment, you’ll find yourself having made a lot of savings after 5 to 10 years.

solar hot water system

The reason solar energy is the perfect choice for those who are environmentally conscious is that the system has by far the lowest impact on the environment. A gas boosted solar will not only give you great savings on energy but also make you eligible for getting grants for government rebates depending on your local council.

Pros

• A four person household would typically require a 300L to 360L tank along with a 4 square metre solar collection area, which is not too much if you think about the savings in energy

• The storage tank is usually fitted with a gas or electric booster element to preserve the temperature of water on days with low sunshine

• You can save a lot in the long run even though the initial investment required to purchase and install the machine will be higher

• Various Australian councils and state governments now offer rebates and other incentives to encourage citizens to shift to this method of water heating, which can help you offset the cost of purchase

• It is the perfect choice for the environmentally conscious as the system utilities a renewable source of energy, the sun

Cons

• Initial investment on installation may prove to be too much for some individuals to afford

• The panels has to be installed in an ideal location, or else they’ll be less efficient, requiring you to arrange space or a foundation for a bigger sunlight collection area

Gas Hot Water Systems

This system is the best bet if you do not have the room, an ideal roof position, a sunny environment, or budget to go for a solar hot water system. A system based on gas can also help bigger households that have a greater demand for water throughout the day. As you may already know, gas hot water gets its fuel from two resources – natural gas or LPG.

Gas hot water system

Systems using natural gas are practical and the most common in Australia because most homes have well-made gas piping facilities. LPG, on the other hand, is a more expensive alternative that can benefit households that cannot rely on easy access to electricity or natural gas. This is the reason hot water systems in rural areas are LPG based.

Pros

• Natural gas is a great option for those who have a connection as it is cheaper than electricity and the system can efficiently produce the desired amount of heated water

• Heating systems that cannot be installed outside due to the lack of venting requirements can be set up indoors by using a flute (depending on local council laws)

• A household consisting of four members would need a tank of sizes ranging between 135L to 170L, or they can also choose to opt for an instantaneous system

• Gas hot water systems are commonly made by well known companies and carry an energy efficiency star rating that can better help you judge a model’s efficiency before buying

• Some of these systems come with a pilot light that uses only a minuscule amount of gas when lit, but it always ready to heat on demand

• Prices of gas-based water heating systems range from $900-$2000 excluding installation charges

Cons

• LPG bottles are a good alternative to natural gas but be prepared to spend more significantly in the long run in buying cylinders

• Houses that do not have piping connections may get stuck with LPG systems or end up spending more money on installing the appropriate connections for a natural gas system

• Electric ignition is economical, but it also means you might lose connection to hot water supply in the case of a blackout

Heat Pump

Using a heat pump can prove to be a far more viable alternative than standard electrical systems. These devices only draw natural heat of the surrounding air, making for a significantly efficient process that requires very little electricity. By very nature, water heating systems using heat pumps perform better in hot areas due to this mechanism.

Heat pump water system

Contrary to the name, the heat pump doesn’t actually work by pumping heat. It pumps the refrigerant is responsible for extracting, moving, and releasing heat from one location to another. Homes in colder regions of Australia may require a backup heating source, such as a furnace, electrical resistance heating installed with standard heat pumps, or a boiler.

Pros

• Similar to an electric storage tank system, heat pumps work on the principles of an air conditioner or a fridge, by extracting heat from the environment to heat the water tank

• These units are more flexible as individuals can choose between an integrated model that has its tank and compressor fixed together and a split model with separate compressor and tank

• These systems work best in hotter regions, but there are models available in the market designed to operate almost as efficiently in colder climates

• Heat pumps are more environmentally friendly, making them eligible for government rebates and incentives depending on country and state laws

• Even though you may have to spend somewhere between $2500-$4000 for buying the machine, long-term cost savings can make it more than worthwhile

Cons

• This system needs to be installed in areas that receive good amount of ventilation, or else they perform less efficiently

• The compressor system on the unit can produce a lot of noise that is quite similar to an air conditioners outdoor unit, making it unfit to install close to your neighbours’ home

• The tank needs to be typical of a larger size i.e. somewhere between 270L – 315L for a household of four members

• Long-term savings are good, but not as much as solar and natural gas-based systems

Water Usage and Household Size

The type of hot water system you should be getting depends largely on the size of your home and the average water usage per person. Usually, one person may use about 50L of hot water each day. This can be more if you have to use the dishwasher often or have the habit of spending a long time in the shower.

To determine what should be the ideal size of your system, get a professional supply to analyse your home and take into account the number of members in your family. The supplier should also ask about how much water a person uses and the time of use. Asking questions about the washing of clothes in hot or cold water also help.

For most households, a solar-based HWS can prove to be the cheapest and most efficient to run. Some other suggestions are as follows:

• For small families of 1 to 2 people, a gas or electric HWS with continuous flow is recommended

• For medium families consisting of 3 to 4 members, a heat pump or a gas system with continuous floor storage is usually a good choice

• For large homes of over five members are more, large heat pumps or multiple HWS with continuous flows are equally good options

Storage v/s Continuous Flow- What is better?

One of the crucial decisions you’ll need to make while purchasing your water heater is whether to go for a storage tank system or one with continuous flow. Even though both of these systems have their own share of pros and cons, the most prominent difference lies between how they can be utilised and in what type of homes.

Storage vs continuous flow hot water system

Storage Hot Water System

This system stores hot water prior to usage and thus has the potential to be practical for households with many members, having high water usage. Most gas, electric, solar, and heat pump hot water systems use a storage tank as they are insulated and only require maintenance every few years. Systems of this variety usually come with a warranty period of 5 to 10 years.

Continuous Flow Hot Water System

Also often referred to as instantaneous flow, this hot water system can pump out as much hot water as you need. The principal advantage of these systems is that there are little to no heat losses involved as for how it is with water stored in tanks, making these systems cheaper to run than their storage alternatives. Most of these models use gas, but you can find electric models as well. A great benefit of instantaneous systems is that they don’t require a huge amount of space for a storage tank. This is the reason they are becoming more popular around Australian homes.

Hopefully, this guide to hot water systems in Australia gave you all the information you were looking for to buy a new model. Just take your time in choosing the right water heating system that suits your intended purposes to make good long term savings. Also, only put your trust on a reputed water heating system manufacturer and installer to ensure everything goes right and without any hassles.

If you are still unsure of which hot water system in best for your Brisbane home, get in contact with the team here at Hot Water Brisbane. We’re always happy to share our knowledge and experience with our local Australian community.