Solar hot water systems buying guide

Solar hot water is now big business, with dozens of manufacturers and hundreds of retail suppliers all keen to get your custom.
 
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04.Shadow shopper's 2008 quotes

Our shadow shopper called for quotes from 10 retailers listed in the Yellow Pages and received a range of recommendations and prices similar to those below. Installation costs were usually included, and added from $100 to $1600 to the base price.

The cheapest quote that included installation and RECs discount was for a Dux electric-boosted system (either a 330L thermosiphon or a 315L split system), which came to $3900. The most expensive was for a Dux gas-boosted split system for $9640 (these quotes don’t include federal and state rebates, as our shadow shopper’s current gas water heater disqualified him).

Other quotes were for Rinnai, Conergy, Apricus and Siddons systems (including thermosiphons, split systems and heat pumps) and ranged from $4400 to nearly $7000.

Manufacturer suggestions

We also asked manufacturers to suggest solar and heat-pump systems for a hypothetical Sydney house, occupied by two adults and two children, which has good access to sunlight and a gas connection. Most suggested a range of options; the following prices don’t include installation costs, RECs discounts, or government rebates.

  • Apricus gas-boosted split system with a 20-tube solar collector panel and a 264 L ground-level tank. Base price $4737, eligible for 30 RECs. An alternative would be an electric-boosted system for $3585, eligible for 23 RECs.
  • Conergy suggested several models, from a thermosiphon (with 297 L roof-mounted tank) for $3200, eligible for 36 RECs, to gas and electric-boosted models and a heat pump with 320 L tank for $4835 (23 RECs).
  • Dux 170 L gas-boosted split system, costing $3500 to $4000, eligible for 22 RECs. They suggested a larger tank of 250 L should be considered if space permitted, which may cost more but would be eligible for 40 RECs.
  • Ecosmart heat pump with 259 L tank, costing $4100, eligible for 30 RECs.
  • Quantum Energy heat pump with 270 L tank, costing about $3500, eligible for 27 RECs.
  • Rinnai suggested several models, including a gas-boosted thermosiphon (330 L) for $5050 (40 RECs) and an electric-boosted system for $4245 (32 RECs).
  • Solahart has a range of models, but said its thermosiphon systems remain the most popular for retrofitting to existing homes. Its cheapest suggested thermosiphon is for a ‘non-freeze’ area, has a 300 L electric-boosted tank and costs $3518 (30 RECs). Other models include a gas-boosted thermosiphon designed for poor-water and ‘freeze’ areas; it costs $5982 but is eligible for 42 RECs.

Solar contacts

Manufacturers and distributors

Some manufacturers not only supply hot-water systems, but also offer an installation service, while others offer installation through third-party retailers. Check the websites for details.

Government offices

For state and council rebates, see your state and local government websites.

 

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