Steps to purchase and install a hot water system at home
- Read this Buyers Guide to learn about hot water systems. Gather your questions and seek independent advice
- Confirm your own household’s requirements – see Section 4 on Deciding your hot water system size and tank
- Seek recommendations on installers or companies that manage installation, and then contact those who are appropriately accredited for quotes
- Select your preferred installer. Make sure the quote meets your needs. Using our checklists can help
- Apply for the
- Sign a contract with your installer
- Install your new system
- Enjoy your new hot water system and reduced energy bills
Finding a retailer or installer
The installation of any hot water system should be carried out by appropriately qualified and experienced tradespeople to make sure it is properly sized and installed.
Solar Victoria has guidelines for the installation of hot water systems to be eligible for the Solar Hot Water rebate.
All solar hot water installations must be completed by:
- an appropriately licensed plumber and a Plumbing Certificate of Compliance must be supplied to the householder.
- an installer that holds a current Class A Electrical Licence issued by Energy Safe Victoria if prescribed electrical installation work is required.
- an electrician who can submit a prescribed Certificate of Electrical Safety to the householder, which has been certified by a licensed inspector registered with Energy Safe Victoria.
- a solar hot water provider who can provide a minimum five years’ warranty on all major components of your solar hot water system.
The system installed also needs to be an . All installers must ensure safe work methods and fall prevention measures are in place as per the Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2017 (S.R No. 22/17). Find full details on the page.
How to be sure of quality?
You can be more confident in a solar retailer or installer if they provide you with a written quote. Make sure that the product they’re recommending is on the approved products list5.
You should ask about the maintenance and operation requirements of your system, and don’t be rushed into making a decision.
You could also search online for a potential retailer or installer to see if there are complaints from other consumers, or ask for references.
Consider how system faults will be handled
A warranty is only as good as the company that provides it. If the company disappears in a few years, you might have difficulty making a warranty claim should failures occur. It’s not possible to know the future of any hot water system manufacturer or installer, as some of the biggest players over the years have simply disappeared. Seeking out a retailer or installer with a long history in the business helps.
Also, be aware that under Australian Consumer Law, warranties are required to be honoured by product manufacturers even if retailers have gone out of business, so make sure you receive and keep information about the manufacturers of all the different components of your system, and the different warranties on each component. See What warranties are available for more information.
What not to do when engaging an installer or company
Don’t buy a hot water system from a door-to-door salesperson, or from a salesperson who cold calls you on the phone. If you have signed a contract in this way, take advantage of the 10-day cooling off period under consumer law to cancel the contract, and then take your time to do your homework, plan your system and find a quality installer.
If you are applying for the Solar Hot Water rebate, don’t make any payment to a hot water provider until your eligibility for the rebate has been confirmed by Solar Victoria. Apply for eligibility on the page.
Installer and quotation checklist
It’s best to sound out an installer to check their reliability before handing over your hard-earned cash. Have they successfully installed this particular hot water system before? What happens if they go out of business? Here are some key questions to get you started.
General questions regarding all systems
- What’s your experience with heat pumps/solar hot water systems?
- Are you licensed to install this kind of system?
- What happens if the system needs to be fixed under warranty, and your business is no longer operating?
- How long have the equipment manufacturers been in the industry, and do they have a local office?
- What’s the warranty on the tank? And on the other components of the hot water system?
- Does the quote include all system components as well as installation?
- Does the quote include all labour, transportation and inspection charges?
- What maintenance is required on the system?
- What subsidies does my system qualify for?
- Are the products on Solar Victoria’s ?
- Are replacement parts readily available?
- How long can I expect my system to last?
- How long will it take to install the system?
- How many STCs does my system qualify for?
- What material is the tank?
- Will the installation be designed to reduce weathering of the storage tank?
- What level of insulation and lagging do you offer on the system? Do you install measures to prevent heat coming out of the pressure relief valve?
- What is the maximum output water temperature and is a tempering valve included? Note: tempering valves are compulsory.
- Will the system meet the household’s needs regarding number of occupants and bathrooms?
- If you’re looking at an electric hot water system, ask if they can set up a timer so that it runs in the middle of the night, or in the middle of the day if you have a solar electricity system.
Questions for heat pump installers
It’s important to differentiate between high quality heat pumps and those that are less efficient. The ‘coefficient of performance’ (COP) is a measurement of how much energy a
heat pump can draw from the air, for each unit of electricity it consumes. A heat pump with a COP of 2 produces twice as much energy as it uses, while one with a COP of 4 produces four
times as much. The best heat pumps will have a coefficient of performance of 3.5 to 4 or higher, while some of the lesser quality heat pumps may be down at 2 to 2.5.
Some installers will also tell you that heat pumps don’t work in cold weather. In fact, some brands don’t work very well in the cold, while others actually work quite well. (Heat pumps are common in northern Europe where below-zero temperatures are quite common in winter.)
Here are some questions to help pick a quality heat pump:
- What’s the heat pump’s coefficient of performance?
- What is the heat pump’s coldest operating conditions, or operating temperature range?
- What is the heat pump’s noise rating? Does the compressor have a block out timer/timing function?
- Does the heat pump have a resistive element? (If so, it could mean that the actual heat pump
- doesn’t work as well as others. You’d also need to be wary of what impact the resistive element could have on household electricity use.)
- What is the tank warranty, compressor warranty and installation/workmanship warranty
- What’s the process to enact a tank or compressor warranty after the installation warranty has expired?
- Are there any additional costs such as safety switch costs, set up for block out timing (to match solar PV generation times), or extra cost for an elevated work platform?
Questions for solar hot water installers
Solar hot water systems can take a number of days to install due to the plumbing and roof-work involved. Quiz your installer about the full installation process.
- How well does the system perform in overcast conditions?
- How long will it take to install the complete system?
- Will my system need a tilt frame?
- Does the system come with freeze protection?
- Will my roof need to be strengthened for a close-coupled system?
- What is the tank, collector, booster and installation warranty?
Reviewed 27 April 2022