Hot Water Systems: Understanding Your Options

Hot Water Systems Understanding Your Options

Exploring the different types of hot water systems, how to compare them and what to consider before buying a new one

When your water heater is no longer functioning properly, it’s reasonable to think about getting the updated model of your current one. Whether or not you choose a new hot water system of the same line or brand, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of options worth considering. In this article, the team at Hogan will help you explore the different types of hot water systems you could choose for your home to get the best fit.

What types of hot water systems are there?

What types of hot water systems are there

In Australia, there are two main types of hot water systems and they are:

  1. Storage tank systems – where hot water is stored in an insulated tank for later use, and;
  2. Continuous flow systems – where water is heated when needed.

Storage tank hot water system

Many old-style homes have a storage tank for hot water. This kind of system typically runs on electricity or gas, and heats the water in a large tank. The hot water is stored there until it is ready to be used.

The main advantage of a storage tank hot water system is that it is easy and cheap to install.

There are, however, a few downsides to this system. For one, the tank takes up a lot of space and is not ideal for small living spaces. You can also run out of heated water. The water also inevitably loses some heat while it is in storage, no matter how well-insulated the tank is.

Advantages
  • Most electric, gas, solar and heat pump hot water systems require a tank
  • Low maintenance (occasional replacement of valves and seals)
  • Stainless steel tanks are long-lasting
  • Comes with 5-10 year warranties
  • Contains 1-2 sacrificial anodes to prevent corrosion (replace them every five years)
Disadvantages
  • Mild-steel storage tanks are prone to rust if not maintained properly
  • Loses heat over time (we recommend installing water tanks in a sunny area)
  • Local water quality may not be compatible with a storage tank

Continuous flow hot water system

Continuous flow hot water systems do not need storage tanks as they heat water on demand. That means that you would always have hot water when you need it – no more waiting for another batch to heat up before you take a shower! Unfortunately, this convenience can cost you more than installing a tank system.

Advantages
  • No heat loss, which makes them cheaper to run than storage systems
  • Your family will never run out of hot water
  • Only heats the amount of water that you need
Disadvantages
  • Not really instantaneous – it could take a few minutes for the water to heat up, especially when there’s a fair distance between the hot water system and the tap
  • Electricity costs may be higher than for an off-peak tank
  • May not work with low flow shower heads or high trigger points

Types of Hot Water Service

Hot water systems are powered by different types of energy sources. There are four main hot water service types available in Australia:

·         Electric

·         Gas

·         Heat pump

·         Solar

How to choose the best hot water system

How to choose the best hot water system

Instead of waiting for your old tank to burn out, why not plan your upgrade now? Start reviewing your hot water consumption and check out the alternatives. The goal is to find the most efficient hot water system that A) matches your family’s consumption and B) is a little kinder to the environment.

So, do you want to go electric, gas, heat pump, or solar? Here are the pros and cons of each hot water system to guide you!

1.      Electric

A four-person household typically needs a tank with 125 to 160-litre capacity in order to run a continuous system. If running on off-peak rates, you will need a 250 to 315-litre tank.

Advantages
  • Available in storage tank and continuous flow systems
  • Low upfront costs on purchase and installation
  • Easy to install indoors or outdoors
  • The installation only takes two to three hours if it’s a straight replacement for an older system
  • More cost-effective when operating during off-peak times
Disadvantages
  • Expensive to run, especially if it’s on the full day rate
  • Off-peak electricity rates are not available to all homes
  • If running on off-peak timing, a larger tank is required in order to store water that lasts you all day
  • Higher greenhouse gas emissions if not connected to a renewable energy source

These hot water systems range from about $300 to $1500 in price, not including installation.

2.      Gas

Natural gas is a good option if it’s available in your area because it is cheaper than electricity and gas rates do not vary throughout the day.

A four-person household typically needs a tank with 135 to 170-litre capacity to run an instantaneous system.

Advantages
  • Available in either natural gas or liquid petroleum gas (LPG), for storage or instantaneous systems
  • More cost-effective than other hot water systems
  • Mostly installed outdoors for optimal ventilation
  • Can be installed indoors with a flue
  • Installation only takes two to three hours if it’s a straight replacement for an older system
  • You do not lose your hot water supply during power outages
  • Energy efficiency star rating
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions
Disadvantages
  • Models with electric ignition are more economical than the ones with a pilot light, but it means you will have no hot water during a blackout.
  • Only really viable if your home is already connected to the main gas

LPG tanks can be a viable alternative to natural gas but expect to pay a much higher amount in running costs. These hot water systems range from about $900 to $2000 in price, not including installation.

3.      Heat pump

A heat pump is a much more efficient version of the electric storage tank system. It works on the same principle as a refrigerator or air conditioner where heat is extracted from the air and applied to the water tank. A four-person household typically needs a tank with 270 to 315-litre capacity.

Advantages
  • One of the most energy-efficient hot water options available
  • Works best in warm and temperate regions
  • Installation only takes two to three hours if it’s a straight replacement for an older system
  • Government rebates and incentives could help offset upfront costs
  • Booster options are available for high demand or freezing situations
Disadvantages
  • Mostly installed outdoors for optimal ventilation
  • Does not perform well in cold climate
  • The compressor can be noisy so you cannot install the unit too close to a neighbouring home
  • High service costs

Heat pump hot water systems range from about $2500 to $4000 in price, not including installation.

4.      Solar

As expected, the most eco-friendly water heating option is the solar hot water system. Solar panels are mounted on the roof of your home to capture energy from the sun and then heat your water tank.

If your home has a roof that faces the sunny north, then a solar hot water system would be an excellent choice. Although the upfront expenses are quite high, the long-term running costs are low as it uses renewable energy as a power source.

A four-person household typically needs about four square metres of solar panels and a storage tank with 300 to 360-litre capacity.

Advantages
  • Can reduce your energy consumption by up to a whopping 90%
  • Government rebates and incentives could help offset upfront costs
  • Low running costs so the system should eventually pay for itself
  • Booster options are available for overcast situations
Disadvantages
  • If your roof is not ideal for solar power, then you would need a larger collection area
  • If the weather is not optimal, you would need a large tank to accommodate days with less sunlight
  • High upfront costs
  • Installation is expensive and time-consuming

Solar hot water systems range from about $2000 to $7000 in price, not including installation.

Household size and water consumption

Household size and water consumption

Studies found that one person typically consumes about 50 litres of hot water a day, and more if you run the dishwasher often, take long showers, or wash your clothes in heated water.

Our experts at Hogancan help analyse your household water consumption and recommend some options that are practical and ideal for you. The most common questions that determine the appropriate hot water system for your needs are:

·         How many people are currently living in your home?

·         Do you take showers in the morning or evening or both?

·         How many showers do you take in a day and for how long?

·         Do you wash your clothes in warm or hot water?

·         Do you have a dishwasher?

For most households, a solar-powered hot water system is the most efficient and cheapest to run. But if your home is not built for a solar option, then you might want to consider the following recommendations:

  • Small households of 1-2 people: a small gas storage hot water system or a continuous flow hot water system (gas or electric)
  • Medium households of 3-4 people: storage or continuous flow gas-powered hot water system or a heat pump
  • Large households of 5 or more people: gas-powered multiple continuous flow hot water system or a large heat pump
Understand your water heating options better with help from a licensed contractor

Understand your water heating options better with help from a licensed contractor

Not all types of hot water systems are suitable for your home, but luckily there are plenty of options to choose from. Here at Hogan Hot Water & Air Conditioning, our expert team can help you review several options while considering the costs and benefits of each one. Call us today on 0488 029 618 to learn more about Hogan Hot Water solutions and get the best fit for your home!

Hogan Hot Water & Air Conditioning, Hot water systems, Refrigeration
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