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For more than a decade, the Australian public have been told that solar hot water is the ultimate in energy efficiency and the ONLY way to go. Meanwhile, heat pump technology has quietly moved into the market and proven itself superior to solar hot water for larger households. Why has heat pump hot water not superseded solar as the “gold standard” with mums and pops?

PV is familiar

PV systems aren’t frightening. The tech has been around for a long time and the average suburban family knows all about solar PV systems. The confusion comes splitting the “photovoltaic cells on your roof” and your hot water system into two separate but intertwined pieces of technology.

Solar Hot Water is Still a Good Option

Solar hot water systems are still an excellent choice compared to electric or gas systems. In fact, Choice Magazine found they were more efficient for smaller households than heat pumps. The price of gas is going up and those units, like the traditional electric unit, will soon go the way of cameras and landlines….

The same people selling heat pump hot water systems are selling solar.

There’s no motivation to tell the market that heat pumps outperform solar systems, especially for larger households where efficiencies rapidly eclipse solar efficiencies and offer a far better cost cutting option.

Confusion about Solar PV and heat pump

A heat pump system integrates with the solar cells on the roof, the same way a solar hot water system does. Only the way that the unit uses that power is different.

New tech means new options and the research is confusing

When it comes to researching heat pump technology, consumers are faced with new terminology and difficult new concepts. Where their solar system was simple a matter of choosing the tank size, heat pump technology relies on more complex concepts like CoP – coefficient of performance.

New tech means new brands

While consumers can find their household names, including Rheem heat pump hot water systems, the technology comes with new players in the market. Brands like Apricus, Reclaim and Sanden are carving out a massive market share. And, with all new tech, not all heat pump manufacturers are created equal. The overwhelm, of not just understanding new technology but also researching new brands has meant that the time poor consumer market risks simply “giving up” on what is, revolutionary environmental technology.

Comparing individual products

The learning curve continues when consumers must choose between competing products. How to compare heat pump hot water systems isn’t just about household needs, it requires an understanding of your local environment, your solar set up, and the unique features available with heat pump hot water than aren’t available with older tech.


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Heat Pump Hot Water Installation

Hot water installation generally means a plumber and an electrician. Heat pump hot water installation is about as complex as any other unit but, like consumers, there are plumbers and sparkies who have failed to embrace the new tech. Some manufacturers also require certification from partner plumbers to protect the warranty on heat pumps (and other hot water systems). Consumers may be hard pressed to find a Rheem certified plumber who can install heat pumps in their area.

Education is key

Solar PV system installation attracted government benefits and education because it eased the burden on the existing power grid. It also made environmental sense to have householders contributing to their power needs. Heat pump hot water technology does the same. It qualifies for federal government STC credits, just as solar does. It just doesn’t have the same “publicist” solar systems have.

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