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Hot Water Heater Installation

Electric or gas, solar or heat pump ... which is best for me?

The first decision you'll need to make when choosing a HWS is the heating method: electricity, gas, solar or heat pump?

Hot Water Heater Installation

Electric

  • An electrically heated storage tank system is usually affordable to have installed, but is usually the most expensive to run, especially if it's on the continuous (full day) rate.
  • Systems that run on off-peak electricity are much cheaper to run, but need a larger tank as the water heated overnight has to last you all day. And off-peak electricity isn't available to all homes.
  • A four-person household typically needs a 35–50 gal tank for a continuous system or 70–85 gal for off-peak.
  • Can be installed indoors or outdoors.
  • Electric instantaneous water heaters are also available.

Cost: They range in price from about $300 to $1500 (not including installation).

Gas

  • Natural gas is a good option if you have the connection for it. It's cheaper than electricity (though gas prices are rising) and because gas rates don't vary through the day, gas hot water systems can heat water as needed.
  • A four-person household needs a tank of about 35–50 gal . You also have the option of an instantaneous system.
  • Usually installed outdoors due to venting requirements, but can be installed indoors with a flue.
  • Have an energy efficiency star rating. 
  • Some have a pilot light, which uses a small amount of gas. Electric ignition is more economical, but in a blackout you can lose your hot water supply.
  • Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) bottles are an alternative to natural gas – but expect to pay significantly more in running costs.

Cost: They range in price from about $900 to $2000 (not including installation).

Solar

  • Consists of solar collector panels and a storage tank. A four-person household typically needs about four square metres of solar collector area (two panels) and a 80–100 gal tank. You need a large tank to allow for days with less sunlight (or more hot showers than usual).
  • If your panels can't be installed in an ideal location, they may be less efficient and you'll need a larger collection area.
  • The storage tank usually has an electric or gas booster element to keep the water hot on days with less sunshine.
  • Comparatively expensive and time-consuming to install, but a well-chosen system will pay for itself in the long run due to very low running costs.
  • Government rebates and other incentives can help offset the purchase cost.

Cost: They range in price from about $2000 to $7000 (not including installation).

Heat pump

  • A much more efficient form of electric storage tank system that works on the same principle as a fridge or air conditioner, by extracting heat from the air and using it to heat the water tank.
  • Units are usually integrated (tank and compressor together) but can also be split (separate tank and compressor).
  • They need to be installed in a well-ventilated area – usually outdoors.
  • The compressor on the unit can be noisy, like the outdoor unit of an air conditioner, so you can't install them too close to a neighbouring home.
  • They tend to work best in warm and temperate regions, but there are models designed to work well in cold climates too, and most systems have a booster element for days of cold weather or high demand. 
  • You'll typically need a 270–315L tank for a four-person household.
  • Government rebates and other incentives can help offset the purchase cost.

Cost: They range in price from about $2500 to $4000 (not including installation).

 

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