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Which hot water system is right for me?

Advantages and disadvantages of the various types of hot water systems

Making the right decision on which hot water option to go with when you’re upgrading an old system or installing a new unit can be tricky. Every option has advantages and disadvantages but in the end, the water heater you choose must be perfect for your particular home and your family’s hot water requirements.

We recommend speaking to your local hot water specialist or plumber to help ensure the unit you choose will provide ample hot water for your home, now and in the future.

Storage hot water systems

Advantages

  • Cost effective to purchase
  • Easy installation when replacing like for like storage hot water systems
  • Larger units can be connected to off-peak power to boost savings
  • Indoor or outdoor installation options
  • Great for maintaining water pressure throughout the home
  • Available from tiny 25L under sink models ideal for one tap to huge 400L tanks perfect for whole home, multiple bathroom needs.
  • Both gas or electric units are available to suit your power preference.
  • Last 10 to 15 years, longer if regularly maintained

Disadvantages

  • One of the most costly types of hot water systems to run as the water in the tank needs to be kept above 60℃ to prevent harmful bacteria growth.
  • Can take a while to reheat once all the water in the tank has been used
  • Even though the tank and pipes are insulated some heat loss is experienced
  • Yearly maintenance to check for issues such as sacrificial anode replacement, tank leaks, debris or dirt build up in the tank, etc required.

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More information on storage hot water systems.

Instant, continuous flow or instantaneous hot water systems

Instant options are mostly gas fueled (natural gas or LPG) although more electric instant hot water systems are emerging on the Australian market.

Advantages

  • Space saving, wall mounted design
  • Minimal energy waste
  • Energy efficient to operate
  • In most situations, you won’t run out of hot water.
  • No constant water heating required - instant systems only heat the water when you turn on the hot tap.
  • Minimal heat loss
  • Only needs to heat to the desired delivery temperature (often 50℃) as no storage of the water involved saving power.
  • Locating the unit close to the point of use reduces lag and wasted water.
  • Indoor and outdoor installation options
  • Instant units last around 20 years

Disadvantages

  • Smaller units can battle to provide hot water for long periods like high flow, long showers
  • Multiple units would be needed for larger homes or hot water needs which are a long way from each other, eg the kitchen at one end of a large house and a bathroom at the other end.
  • Gas models require venting to remove carbon dioxide and harmful waste produced during gas burning
  • Not ideal for low water pressure areas

More information on instant hot water systems.

Solar hot water heater

Advantages

  • Extremely energy efficient uses free solar energy to heat the water
  • Can take a large chunk out of your homes yearly power bill
  • Eligible for government rebates which help to keep purchase and installation costs down
  • Split system or close coupled models allow for varied installation options - roof mounted panels and ground mounted tank or roof mounted tank and panel unit.
  • Fitted with a booster (either gas or electric) for overcast or rainy days
  • Work effectively even during winter or in cold climates
  • Panel or evacuated tube options available, as well as frost protected models.
  • Reduces your homes carbon footprint.

Disadvantages

  • Ideally requires north facing roof space to get the most out of the system. East or west facing panels can be effective however, more panels may be needed.
  • An unshaded roof area is required - and needs to be maintained by regularly cutting trees
  • Not suitable for apartments or homes with small or south facing roofs
  • Use in climates with a lot of overcast or rainy days will reduce efficiency.
  • Close coupled systems may require roof reinforcement as larger tanks can be heavy
  • Only heats during the day time.

More details on solar hot water heaters.

Heat pump hot water system

Advantages

  • Highly energy efficient
  • Utilises the ambient warmth in the air to heat the water
  • Uses significantly less power than directly heating the water with electricity (as in electric storage models). Electricity is only used to move the water around, using the refrigerant to heat the water.
  • Easy installation upgrade from an existing electric storage hot water system
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Last a long time
  • Work effectively in temperatures from around 3℃ to 32℃ making heat pumps a great option for most areas in Australia.

Disadvantages

  • One of the most expensive options to purchase
  • Noise needs to be considered when choosing the location for your unit.
  • Outdoor installation required
  • Not ideal for very cold climates.

Further information on heat pump water heating.