What to Consider When Choosing Best Hot Water System

Is it time for a new hot water system for your Perth Hills home? If your current system is on the brink of collapse, you are probably wondering which hot water system will be your best value in the long run. Kalamunda Plumbing has put together some of the top things we consider before installing hot water systems in homes across Perth Hills and the Eastern Suburbs.

Some common questions that we ask before commencing a hot water system replacement are:

How much hot water do you use?

Can you pinpoint or guess how much hot water you and your family use daily? If not, we can use average numbers. According to one source, the average person uses 50 L of hot water a day, which covers washing dishes, laundry, and of course, showering.
Factoring in current and future use before installation will ensure everyone under your roof can have a hot shower when they want to, and you won’t need to “ration” the hot water.

Do you want to change the system type, or replace your hot water system with the same style?

Not sure if you should stick with an existing gas hot water system, swap to electric, or have instantaneous hot water? Taking into consideration available space, environment, household needs, budget and value, our team will help choose the system best suited to your needs.

Energy efficient eco-friendly solutions are also becoming more and more popular these days. Upon inspection of your property, we can advise eco-friendly solutions such as heat pump systems (which use your home’s electricity), or solar hot water systems bolstered by gas or electricity.

Sometimes, it is more cost-effective to simply replace parts of, or repair your current system. If all you need is a tank replacement or a valve change to extend the life of your hot water system, our hot water experts will advise as such.

What energy sources are available?

Whether you are already using gas and want to change to solar hot water or heat pump, or would prefer to continue using electric hot water systems, we will explore the best options for your property, needs and budget.

Here’s a general rundown of the various systems:

Solar Water Heaters

  • Consists of a storage tank and solar collector panels. A four-person household usually needs about four square metres of solar collector area (two panels) and a 300–325L storage tank. You need a large tank to allow for days with less solar energy (less sunshine), or more hot showers than usual.
  • If your collector panels can’t be installed in an ideal location (facing due north), you may need more efficient panels, or a larger collection area (more panels).
  • Storage tanks can be fitted on the roof or mounted at ground level. Ground mounted tanks come complete with a circulating pump.
  • To keep the water hot on days when there is less solar radiation (less sunlight), storage tanks are fitted with an electric booster element as standard, or there is the option of a gas booster.
  • The installer will normally need to inspect your home to plan the installation and ensure the system can be installed safely and in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.
  • Installation will normally take no more than 3 to 5 hours, if it is a straight-forward replacement of a similar system. Up to 8 hours if it is an upgrade from a gas or electric HWS.
  • Solar rebates will help offset the purchase cost, and a well-chosen system will pay for itself within 3 to 5 years, due to its low running costs.

Heat Pump Hot Water Systems

  • Consists of a large storage tank, and a compressor that is involved in the heating process.
  • Heat pumps work on the same principle as a reverse cycle air conditioner or fridge, by extracting heat from the air and using it to heat the water tank.
  • Heat Pump Hot Water Systems use far less energy when compared to conventional electric and gas water heaters and generate a higher thermal output for a given energy input (four to one).
  • Heat pumps make particularly good sense when you have solar energy panels on the roof of your home, as you can power the hot water system with your own “free” electricity.
  • Heat pump units can be a “split” version (separate tank and compressor), but are usually “co-joined” (tank and compressor combined).
  • They need to be installed in a well-ventilated area, usually outdoors.
  • Installation typically takes 2 to 4 hours, if it is a straight-forward replacement of a similar system, or replacement of an electric storage hot water system.
  • The noise of a compressor on the unit can be similar to the outdoor unit of an air conditioner, so consideration needs to be given to location (avoid being close to bedrooms and neighbours for example).
  • Most systems are fitted with a booster element for days of particularly cold weather, or high usage of hot water.
  • For a four-person household, you will typically need a 250–315L tank.
  • Heat pumps have an efficiency rating similar to solar water heaters and therefore attract Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STC rebates will help offset the purchase cost, and a well-chosen system will pay for itself within 3 to 5 years, due to its low running costs.

Gas Hot Water Systems

  • Consists of either a storage tank, or tankless (continuous flow or instantaneous).
  • Natural gas is a good option if you have the connection for it.
  • Gas HWS can be cheaper to run than electrically powered water heaters (unless you have solar energy panels fitted to the roof of your home).
  • A four-person household needs a storage tank of about 135–170L.
  • You also have the option of a continuous flow or instantaneous system which are rated as “litres per minute” (LPM). The higher the LPM, the stronger the flow of water.
  • Gas HWS are usually installed outdoors due to ventilation requirements, but can be installed indoors with a flue pipe.
  • Installation typically takes no more than 2 to 4 hours, if it’s a straight forward replacement of a similar system.
  • Gas HWS have an energy efficiency star rating similar to electrical household appliances. The higher the number (5 or 6) the higher the efficiency.
  • Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) bottles are an alternative to natural gas – but expect to pay significantly more in running costs, due to the cost of storage and delivery charges.
  • Natural gas HWS are currently cheaper to run than grid supplied electricity, however they are nowhere near as cheap as your own solar-generated electricity if you have solar energy panels.
  • The cost of LPG HWS to run is on a par with grid supplied electrically powered HWS.
  • The long-term future for gas prices is uncertain, but it’s expected that gas will become more expensive over time.

Electric Hot Water Systems

  • An electrically powered hot water system can be comparatively cheap to buy and install, but is normally the most expensive to run, unless it’s connected to solar energy panels, or on the off peak (night-time) rate.
  • Storage hot water systems that are connected to solar energy panels (daytime), or the off peak (night-time) rate, need a larger tank as the heated water has to last you all day, depending what time of the day it’s heated. And off-peak electricity isn’t available to all homes.
  • A four-person household typically needs a 125–160L tank for a continuous rate system, or 250–315L if connected to solar energy panels, or off-peak electricity.
  • Electric hot water systems can be installed indoors or outdoors.
  • Installation normally takes no more than two or three hours, if it’s a straight-forward replacement of a similar system.
  • Electric instantaneous water heaters are also available, but are typically designed to supply hot water for just one outlet (one tap or shower) and require a 3-phase electricity supply. And 3-phase electricity isn’t available to all homes.
  • An important consideration is that your electric water heater could account for up to one third of your electricity bills.

What is your budget?

Now that we’ve established your ideal hot water system based on needs, property type and environmental goals, the only thing left to consider is your budget. The best hot water system for your Perth Hills home will be the one that works best on your budget. Some hot water systems are cheaper to install but have greater running costs, while others are more costly upfront, but easier on the pocket in the long run.

Here’s a rundown of the approximate prices of the various systems, supplied and installed:

  • Solar HWS can vary from $3,500 to $7,000 (after STC discount) depending on size of the tank and the number of solar collectors, and whether the tank is roof mounted or ground mounted. And whether the system is electrically boosted, or gas boosted, and whether “frost tolerant” or not.
  • Heat Pump HWS can vary from $2,500 to $5,500 (after STC discount) depending on size of the tank and whether system is a “split” version (separate tank and compressor), or “co-joined” (tank and compressor combined).
  • Gas HWS can vary from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on size of tank if “storage”, or LPM if “tankless” (continuous flow or instantaneous). Price can also vary depending on whether natural gas or LPG version. And depending on length of warranty.
  • Electric HWS can vary from $1,200 to $2,000 depending on size of tank if “storage”, or whether it is “tankless” (instantaneous). Price can also vary depending on length of warranty.

Ready to talk about hot water? Our friendly team is just a call away

Kalamunda Plumbing provides hot water system replacement, hot water repairs and service, as well as breakdown repair and maintenance plumbing services to Perth Hills towns such as Kalamunda, Guildford, and Mundaring. Call Kalamunda Plumbing at (08) 9291 6000 or fill out a web form, and we’ll get back to you.

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