The design and location of your house determine how easy it is to have solar water heating installed, and how well the system will perform.
Is solar water heating right for you?
You'll need a section of roof that:
- faces north (or close to it)
- has good, year-round sun
- is large enough to accommodate collector panels, which usually means roughly one square metre for each person in the house
- is near the hot water tank location if possible
- can carry the extra load of a solar water heating system (check with a builder)
In some situations it is may be possible to locate the solar collectors (panels) on the ground rather than on your roof.
What size tank do you need?
The size of the hot water tank in your system needs to be matched to your hot water usage and the size of solar collectors on your roof. If your tank is too small or too big you will be paying extra to boost the temperature of the water.
You generally need more storage with a solar system than with a regular electric system.
- A properly sized standard electric cylinder will normally have roughly 50 litres of storage capacity for each person in the house.
- A properly sized solar water heating system may have up to 100 litres of storage per person.
A standard hot water tank can be adapted for use with solar collectors, but only if it has a large enough capacity to meet the needs of the number of people in the house.
A specialist solar water heating tank has extra connections for the solar collectors and multiple heating element locations so the system can be configured to maximise the use of solar energy without compromising on hot water delivery. Your system is likely to perform better with one of these.
A solar hot water heating professional can help you determine what size tank you need for your home.
What type of system is right for your home?
The overall efficiency of a system depends on the performance of each component and how well they are matched together as a system. In frost-prone areas you'll need to ensure your system has suitable frost protection. This is important as otherwise the water or fluid could freeze in the solar collectors.
Learn more about the different solar water heating system components.
Retailers typically offer packaged solar water heating systems which have been designed so that each component is appropriately sized and optimized so the whole system works well together.
A simple quality check is to ask the retailer or check the marketing materials to see if the packaged system meets the Standard AS/NZS 2712:2007.
Talk to the retailer about the warranties they offer.
Look out for ENERGY STAR® qualified solar water heating systems. They will save more than 70% of your water heating costs, are backed by comprehensive warranties, and meet the latest New Zealand water heating standards for design, construction, and energy performance.
- Solar water heating system components
- Installation and maintenance
- ENERGY STAR® qualified solar water heating systems