Plastics and food

Are chemicals from plastic food containers and wrapping as safe as the industry and regulators claim or are they slowly poisoning us?
 
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01 .Introduction

lead-plastic-with-border

In brief

• Though the risk is low, there’s growing evidence that food can be contaminated by harmful chemicals from some types of plastic.
• Many foods are packaged in these risky plastics – including fresh meat, gourmet cheese, and even some health foods and organic vegetables.
• There are safer alternatives, and CHOICE wants the industry to phase out these risky plastics.

Moving hazards

Plastic as such isn’t a problem. The polymer molecules from which it’s made are far too big to move from the packaging material into the food. But plastic can also contain much smaller molecules that are free to migrate into the food it’s in contact with. The plastic can slowly breakdown, releasing monomer. Two plastics of particular concern are
Polycarbonate (often used to make food storage containers and bottles, in particular bottles marketed for use by infants and small children) and the epoxy resin used to line cans can release bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that many experts now believe can cause serious health problems.
PVC (used to make bottles, cling wrap and the seals for screw-cap jars) contains added chemicals known as plasticisers. On its own, PVC is hard and rigid (it’s used to make drains, guttering and downpipes), so plasticisers are added to make it soft and flexible – in much the same way water added to clay makes it soft. Plasticisers can make up as much as 40% of the plastic material. Phthalates and DEHA (di-(2-ethyhexyl)adipate) are often added as plasticisers to the PVC that’s used for food packaging; again, recent research raises doubts about the safety of these compounds.


Video: Plastics health risk

A simple test shows harmful plasticisers in our food wrapping.


Risk assessment

BPA and phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can mimic the body’s natural hormones and thereby cause a raft of health problems. Infants and the very young are most vulnerable to exposure because of their lower body weight and because their growth and development are strongly influenced by hormones; the effects on health can be lifelong. These effects have been seen clearly and consistently in experiments with animals and when people or wildlife have been accidentally exposed to high levels of endocrine disruptors. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement calling for more research into the possible harmful effects of BPA, reinforcing growing concerns about its safety.

While these compounds are undoubtedly hazardous at high levels of exposure, scientific opinion is divided over the risk from the much lower levels that we’re exposed to every day in our food. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that even at these lower levels of exposure, phthalates and BPA may be causing problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

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Matt's opinion:

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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Mark Grogan's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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ThomasMaloney's opinion:

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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Matt's opinion:

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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Mark Grogan's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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Mark Grogan's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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ThomasMaloney's opinion:

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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ThomasMaloney's opinion:

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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Matt's opinion:

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

Reply to Matt

 
 
 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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Mark Grogan's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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Mark Grogan's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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ThomasMaloney's opinion:

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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ThomasMaloney's opinion:

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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Matt's opinion:

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

Reply to Matt

 
 
 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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Matt's opinion:

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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15 DAYS AGO | Thank you this has answered a few questions. I've been looking at this product wanted to know how much it would save on water bills.

http://www.heyprestoinstanthotwater.com.au

Any advise would be great.

 

 
 

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Greg Scott's opinion:

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16 DAYS AGO | With no formal research or product/model comparisons available due to the cost of organising research on solar hot water systems, the best we can do to protect ourselves and make informed decisions is to swap experiences and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is our experience:

In February 2009 we purchased a Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit, originally priced at $5,532, for $3,732 after taking the government rebates being offered at the time. Despite being more expensive than their competitors, we chose to buy a Hills product because it was explained their stainless steel tank was of superior quality and also we thought Hills to be a reputable Australian company.
In October 2011 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber acting as the agent for Hills, replaced the thermostat at a cost of $240.68 and, separately, the temperature valve at $203.50.
On 23 July 2014 the unit failed, producing no hot water and leaking. The plumber discovered the element was leaking, the pump had broken and the non-return valve also needed replacing. As a consequence he replaced the pump at a cost of $718 and organized for the non-return valve to be replaced separately.
On 24 July a second plumber visited and also concluded the non-return valve needed to be replaced, that the element was still leaking and, consequently, a warranty claim for the tank should be made to Hills. The cost for this service was $158.13.
The second plumber guided me through the background history of the Hills Esteem Solar Hot Water Unit. According to him, initially Hills was enthusiastic about the prospects of entering this sector but, with mounting problems from an inferior product, had chosen to withdraw from the solar water market. Hills apparently sold their solar hot water business to Bradford and left Apricus to fend off the problems left behind by Hills. To quote from the Hills website:

“The Hills Solar hot water systems business operation has closed (January 2013). The Hills ESTEEM™ evacuated tube solar hot water system and Hills APOLLO™ flat panel solar hot water system are no longer available for sale in Australia.”

However, apparently Bradford are still selling at least elements of the same system and the tanks are still stamped with the Hills marque.
The plumber explained what we had been sold was Version I of a product that was now in its third version. One of the many faults of the first version was that the non-return valve was made of materials that were not able to withstand the heat from the hot water and was prone to melting. When the valve fails, the pump is in turn destroyed. The pump is also of inferior quality and has been replaced in the third version by a superior pump. Curiously, the pump that the plumber replaced on 23 July was the original inferior version, known from experience to have a short life span.
I should also add that our hot water tank is optimally placed under our house, out of the elements, with plenty of ventilation.
What to make of all this?
We decided to buy a solar hot water system primarily with the narrow private interest of saving money on our water heating costs but also, encouraged by government subsidies, with the broader public interest of adopting alternative energy sources. We deliberately chose a reputable Australian company because we wanted to be sure we were not purchasing an inferior product and that, should things go wrong, we would not be left in the lurch.
So far, the advertised savings on our hot water bills have been negated by maintenance charges. Hills successor, Apricus, did honour the warranty and replace the tank after a month of us mopping up leaks from our ailing old tank, but with all of the features, including the thermostat, the temperature valve, the non-return valve and the pump of the original, deficient 2009 model.
I reckon we can expect further problems in the next couple of years.
Consumers sorely need better information than is available at the moment to make informed decisions on which hot water system to buy.

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | When it comes to hot water storage, I would really suggest that you make sure you've got a tank that's just the right size for your consumption and not to over utilise the heater so that you can save electricity. You want to make sure that you heat up just enough water for usage but not let it run for too long because hot water will just cool after a while sitting in the tank anyway.
http://supercheapselfstorage.com.au/facilities/sydney/storage-illawarra/

 

 
 

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3 MONTHS AGO | I think it's so important to manage your water heating "system" at home. You can waste A LOT of electricty and money heating up your water in storage if you're not careful. What we do at home in Wollongong, Australia, we only heatr up the water in our water storage tank for a aset number of hours, like maybe from dinner time to after everybody has taken a shower. You can also set a timer for the heating switch too.

 

 
 

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Dee Watson's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | Hot water systems. How useless not having any test results on a product that is in every household !

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | I forgot to mention! Is "a gas-boosted solar HWS" what I was talking about above? In addition to the question also, I would really like to some advice on where the best location to store the water heater, where to have the water storage and any other precautions that are needed when storing the water tank. I am already used to advising some of my customers at the self storage facility that they should really be careful with their tanks/drums of liquid so that it doesn't affect the other items in storage, but more advice would always be helpful.

 

 
 

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6 MONTHS AGO | Wow! That's a really in depth write up on how to choose a good water heater! What I'm really impressed about is page 5 where it really encourages the effects of solar heating and water storage systems. It's really great to be seeing more people concerned from the environment even in somethign as everyday as heating up water and cheers to that! What I'd actually like to think about is a combination of 2 (or more) different types of water heating. Would that be possible?

 

 
 

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