Solar or Electric? The Hot Water System Debate

Keeping water and electricity costs down are important for all Australian households. While there are many ways we can help conserve energy and water in our every day routines, more Australians are looking at the hot water system they use and how it can help keep the costs down. We look into the hot water system debate of solar vs electric and weigh up the pro’s and con’s of both systems.

If you are in the market for a new hot water system, you may be wondering if a solar system is the best choice for you, or if you should stick with the more conventional electric systems. While there are numerous benefits to switching to solar, it may not be the right choice for everyone. Here are a few pros and cons for each option so you can more easily make an informed decision on which hot water system is right for you.

Pros and Cons of a Solar Hot Water System

Solar panels on roof


The most notable pro of having a solar hot water setup for most is that they are much cheaper to operate over time. On average, you may be able to save up to $800 per year just by switching your hot water to solar. If you have a full solar panel setup, then you may even generate extra power which you can then feed into the grid to earn a little money as well. Solar energy, whether for a hot water heater or powering your lights and television, is much better for the environment. Solar power is clean energy, fully renewable, and using solar energy vs nuclear or coal reduces carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Australian dollars in a pile


While the pros are formidable, there are some downsides to having a solar water system. For starters, they are much more expensive to have installed than an electric system – up to $7000 up front. For many homeowners, this up-front cost is out of reach. Additionally, solar panels add weight to your roof, which may need to be reinforced. If you live in an area with a lot of trees or residential development which blocks the sun, then you may also find that you aren’t generating enough solar energy to offset the initial cost.

Pros and Cons of an Electric Hot Water System

dripping water tap


The primary benefit of having an electric water heater is that these systems are far less expensive in the beginning. They cost considerably less than solar, and even gas, hot water systems. They are also safe to use and are much easier to install than comparable solar systems. You can also find newer electric water heaters that are more efficient to operate than older models, though still far behind the efficiency of a solar hot water setup.

people looking at bills with laptop


There are several downsides to using an electric hot water heater as well. For starters, they are much more expensive over time to operate than solar options. They are also sensitive to power outages, so if your grid power goes down for whatever reason, your water heater will also be down. Additionally, they take much longer to heat water than solar water heaters, so if one person wants to shower immediately after another person, they may be forced to do so in cold water.

The decision over which water heater to choose is one that has to be weighed with each of these factors in mind.

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      Brit McDowell

      Lifestyle Specialist & Subject Matter Expert

      Brit McDowell is a Product Specialist at Localsearch with a background in marketing, business and tourism management. Aside from her specialisation in technical processes, Brit is known for her green thumb and growing succulent collection, love of dogs (especially Dalmatians), eye for home interior and fervour for travel. Brit is also a Lifestyle Specialist on the Localsearch Blog and enjoys sharing her research and knowledge in home and gardening services, food, beauty and general lifestyle tips and tricks.