Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Hot Water Systems

Solar panels collect the sun’s rays and transfer that heat energy into an insulated hot water tank. There are a couple of different panel varieties, which work in slightly different ways.

Flat-plate collectors: Sunlight passes through a top layer known as glazing, then reaches an absorber plate which heats up, before the heat moves through a transport system.

Evacuated tube collectors: Glass tubes absorb the sunlight and efficiently transfer the heat throughout the panel. The evacuated tubes are considered a more effective heating method, although the flat-plate collector panels are cheaper.

The heat energy absorbed by the panels then heats your water which is stored in a tank.

With proper maintenance, and assuming no emergency disaster strikes, your solar system should last for more than 10 years. Well looked after units and panels can certainly last close to 20 years.

The addition of solar panels means some extra care and attention is required in harsher climates, and regular maintenance is recommended.

The answer varies. A solar hot water system does cost more to purchase than a gas instantaneous system or even gas storage tank. However, the running costs for solar are the cheapest on the market.

When comparing solar with a storage hot water system, the savings could easily be anywhere between 50%-75% of your energy bills, according to Canstar Blue.

Solar hot waters can, and do, work in winter. They can have a gas or electric powered booster fitted to the system that can be activated during the colder months of the year when the sun is producing less heat energy.

Depending on the climate of the area in which you live, you may need a solar hot water system that is frost protected. This will prevent it from splitting or bursting if you live in a region that is highly prone to frost or snow. 

When compared to gas or electric powered water heaters, solar hot water installation is the most expensive at the point of purchase. Over time though it does become the most cost effective option. The efficiency of the system can be highly dependent on the amount of roof space and the climate of the local area.