Australian solar hot water pioneer Solahart has launched a new product that can be transformed from a basic domestic electric hot water service into either a solar collector-based system or a smart-electric water heater, linked to rooftop solar panels.
Solahart said this week that the Streamline Solar-Ready aimed to give homeowners a way to get back in hot water quickly in an emergency, or when replacing an old system, with options to upgrade to a renewable alternative later down the track.
“Over 200,000 electric water heaters need replacing every year in Australia and the hot water breakdown market peaks in the cooler months, when Australians most value a warm shower,” said Solahart general manager Stephen Cranch.
“Solahart Streamline Solar-Ready water heaters are designed to meet the need for an emergency replacement of an existing unit. The benefit of the new solar-ready water heater is that it also offers homeowners the option to upgrade to solar down the track, when they are ready.”
The water heaters will come in two sizes, 270 litres and 320 litres, and offer a 10-year tank warranty. The Solar-Ready part comes in the shape of a built-in solar circuit inlet and outlet connections to allow for an easy upgrade to solar down the line.
For that upgrade, customers would contact Solahart, either to install solar collectors and a Solar Upgrade Kit, or to link the hot water system to a rooftop PV system, or to add a Solahart controller module, a power meter and an energy management unit (EMU).
The shift back to tank-based electric hot water services – and away from gas-powered units – has been gaining momentum in Australia with the world-leading uptake of rooftop solar and the concurrent shift to electric appliances.
Electric hot water services are particularly well suited to homes with rooftop solar, thanks to their ability to act as a sort of solar sponge, or water battery, by using excess solar power to heat a household’s water during the day when generation levels are high and store it until needed.
To this end, Solahart is currently supplying the hardware for a South Australia-based trial that will aggregate more than 2,400 residential electric hot water systems – in this case the Solahart Powerstore – to act as a virtual big battery, helping to soak up excess rooftop solar power and providing a cheap and scalable form of demand management.
“As a smart-electric water heater connected to rooftop solar, any excess energy generated by the solar power system can be stored as hot water in the tank, minimising the amount of power needed from the grid, lowering your water heating costs,” said Cranch this week.