There has been a huge increase of late in Australians turning to heat pump water heaters rather than solar panels to heat their home’s water. If you are contemplating an upgrade to your home’s existing heating system, you may be juggling the same two choices between solar water heaters and heat pump systems. After all, the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator ‘does not provide advice on system choice’. So, why are more Australian’s choosing heat pumps of late? Here are the four main reasons to consider heat pumps as a solution to meeting your home’s hot water requirements.
Although heat pumps can be noisy, they needn’t be installed on your roof or even inside your home. Modern pumps are not only quieter but they can also be installed outdoors. With a heat pump, you can put the tank in your laundry area and then position the outdoor unit round the back of your home. This means that you will not be disturbed when it runs at night. Some cheaper heat pumps produce up to 50 decibels whereas higher-quality pumps are soundproofed. As heat pumps generate the most noise after hot water consumption (at night, early in the morning), carefully planned installation is a must.
Under Australia’s Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), the purchase and installation of a heat pump water heater entitles you to Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) just as solar water heaters do. However, as the latest models of heat pumps use electricity more efficiently, the potential financial benefits are greater. STCs, formerly known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), can help you offset the cost of installing the heat pump in two ways. Firstly, you can assign your STC to an STC agent and receive either an up-front discount or delayed cash payment. Alternatively, you can create the STCs yourself once your system is installed. STCs can be sold or transferred in a Clean Energy Regulator-managed STC Clearing House. Which option is right for you?
Because selling your STCs to an agent means that the amount you receive may vary according to the market, many homeowners opt for the latter option of creating their own STCs. This is because the STC price is fixed regardless of what the STC market is doing. By claiming your STC rebate, you can help offset the cost of installing a heat pump hot water system.
Part of the reason why heat pump systems are cheaper than solar systems is that they contain fewer components. As a result, the installation costs are lower. It can take trained plumbers as little as four hours to swap a heat pump into an existing home system. The installation of a heat pump doesn’t require intricate plumbing work and is fairly easy to install.
Solar water heaters are commonly advertised as lower maintenance than heat pumps because they are not affected by water quality. Most systems use a sacrificial magnesium protective anode and double ceramic lined tank to prevent corrosion. However, manufacturers of the latest heat pump models do warrant their systems against damage caused by calcium carbonate solidifying in the water and falling to the bottom of the tank. It is important to choose a high quality heat pump water heater with a warranty to cover sediment damage to the heat exchanger. A pump with a proper warranty will have lower maintenance than a solar water heater.
Although the five benefits of heat pump water heaters presented in this article can help inform your decision, every home is different. The Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator suggests reading the information on the Living Greener and Your Home websites to make your mind up. These sites contain balanced, impartial overviews of both heat pump and solar heater systems to help you decide.
The author of this post, Jenny Wadlow, is a freelance blogger who writes for Siddons Solarstream, a company that provides heat pump water heaters. She uses her spare time to indulge in reading and holidaying. You can catch up with her on Twitter @JennyWadlow
- Gary Reysa: ‘A Double-Duty Solar Solution: How to Build a Solar Water Heater’(thestrangetwo.wordpress.com)