This is the first question most people want to ask when they are on the hunt for a new hot water system. There are so many different variables that go into a hot water system, so we often just want to know what the best is to try to reduce the confusion.
Unfortunately, what hot water system is the best for you may not be the best for somebody else, and vice versa. We all live in different homes with different sized families that have different water consumption habits. We also have different budgets, and that can play a big part as well.
However, this is not to say that buying a hot water system needs to be a difficult task. It is simply a case of working out the particulars of your situation and then finding the best hot water system for you. In this guide, we will take you through all the different factors to consider in choosing a hot water system, and we will also give you some recommendations for the best hot water systems in different categories.
Types of hot water systems
There are a lot of different types of water heaters that are more or less suitable for different needs. In what follows, keep in mind these key factors to help you decide which types of systems and individual models are best suited to your needs:
- Short-term budget
- Long-term budget
- Level of use
- Size of household
- Environmental impact
These factors are going to be more or less important for each person, while each system will relate differently to each.
A tank hot water system uses a large storage tank to keep water hot so that it is ready for you to use when you need it. Tank systems are differentiated by their size and also their power source. Tank systems range from around 25L up to around 400L. As for power courses, the following are the main types of tank systems:
- Electric hot water tank
- Gas hot water tank
- Solar hot water tank
- Heat pump hot water tank
Each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages, so we will go through each of them in detail.
A tankless system, often referred to as an instantaneous, instant, or continuous flow hot water system, is a more modern hot water technology. As the name suggests, the tankless system does not have a storage tank. Rather, it heats water instantaneously as and when it is needed.
Hot water systems instantaneous vs storage
The storage tank hot water system is the most traditional kind of hot water heater and is still the most common in use today. In a storage tank system, water is heated in a large cylinder and is then kept hot so that it can be used when a tap is turned on or a bath or shower is running.
When water leaves the system, it is refilled with cold water, which is then heated to the same temperature as the remaining water in the system.
On the other hand, an instantaneous system doesn’t store any water. Instead, when a hot water tap is turned on, water is passed through a coiled metal pipe that is extremely hot, heating the water instantly. This is a much more modern approach to hot water heating.
The major benefit of the instant hot water system is that it doesn’t waste any energy keeping water hot when it is not needed. For example, in a typical household, hot water is not used for the majority of the day, and also all through the night. A tank system consumes energy during these periods just to keep the water at the right temperature so that it can be used when we get home from work, or when we get up in the morning.
Since the instant hot water system doesn’t do this, it is generally much more energy efficient than a tank system. This makes it cheaper to run, and also much more friendly to the environment. It also has the advantage of never running out of water. A further advantage is that it usually lasts longer than a tank system, since tanks usually need to be replaced every 10 years or so because their cylinders corrode.
On the other hand, instantaneous hot water systems have the drawback of being generally more expensive to buy and install than tank systems.
Overall, an instant hot water system provides a lot of benefits not available in a tank system and so is a more efficient product. Having said that, tank technology has come a long way in recent years and there are some tank systems that match the energy efficiency of the instant systems.
Gas vs electric hot water systems
This is another major debate in the hot water market – gas, or electric? Well, the traditional view is that there is a tradeoff between upfront cost and later running costs. In the case of an electric system, the upfront costs are generally lower. However, the running costs are generally higher than a gas system’s because of the relative cost of electricity, as well as the machine’s efficiency rating.
On the other hand, gas hot water systems are usually more expensive to buy and install, but are advantageous over the longer term because their running costs are lower.
It is possible to buy both storage and instantaneous hot water systems that are gas and electric.
What is the best gas hot water system?
The Rheem Stellar gas range is probably at the front of the pack. The Rheem Stellar comes in a 130L model as well as a 160L model. The greatest advantage of the Rheem Stellar products is that they feature a five-star energy efficiency rating.
Rheem also claims that the Stellar range replaces hot water faster than any other gas heater. That is really important if you have a family that likes to use a lot of hot water over a short period (for example, in the morning, when everyone is getting ready to go to school or work).
Rheem advertises that it provides 200L per hour of hot water recovery, with a 360L first-hour capacity. That means you are going to get a lot of showers out of the machine in its first hour, but also that it will quickly recover in the following hours. The system also features mains pressure delivery, which means that it can service multiple showers at the same time with high pressure hot water. Twelve year cylinder warranties across the range and also Australian made – what’s not to like?
What is the best electric hot water system?
One of the biggest names in Australian water heating is Dux. Dux hot water systems are incredibly popular in Australian homes and have been for a long time. With that kind of heritage you can expect a product that has been finely tuned to meet your hot water needs.
The Dux Proflo series is Dux’s go-to electric hot water solution. One of the most useful features of the series is its enormous variety, with tank sizes ranging from portable 25L options all the way up to 400L (capable of servicing 9-11 people).
The tanks themselves feature Y class commercial grade enamel and oversized anodes, meaning that the tanks should withstand corrosion over long periods. Dux backs up its tank quality by offering 10 year warranties on all tanks except the 25L and 50L models (which come with a 7 year warranty).
Another excellent feature is the hard water additional option. If you live in an area with poorer quality water – what is called ‘hard water’ – your tank is likely to corrode much faster. Dux’s hard water option gives the tank extra protection to keep the system running for a longer period.
What is the best instant hot water system?
Rinnai is one of the main names in the instant hot water market. Rinnai have a large range of instant systems and also provide industrial hot water systems to stand up to tough use on building sites and in other work environments.
In the Rinnai Infinity 26, you get this robustness packaged in a state of the art home device with full digital controls. The most impressive feature of the Rinnai Infinity 26 is its 6.1 star energy rating. That is a figure you won’t see on many other models in the market and it means that you are going to be consuming hot water a lot more cheaply than you have done in the past. It also means you are going to reduce your carbon footprint significantly.
The Infinity 26 has enough flow capacity to easily service 2-3 bathrooms, meaning it is going to suit even large households with high daily consumption.
Each of the Infinity range models comes with a 12 year heat exchanger warranty, along with precise temperature controls and a status operation monitor. As stated above, an instant hot water system is usually more expensive to buy and install than a storage system. However, with quality like the Rinnai Infinity series you can feel confident that the extra money spent is going to pay off with a longer lifespan and cheaper energy bills.
What solar hot water system is best?
Solar is a fast developing technology in the water heating game, but Solahart have dedicated themselves to developing solar tech more than any other brand. The Solahart Streamline MCS07V is a premium solar option that integrates roof-mounted solar panels with a grounded tank.
The greatest advantage of the Solahart Streamline MCS07V range is its incredible energy efficiency. Solahart recommends that the system will reduce energy consumption costs by 75% for a family using it at medium levels. It features an electric booster to ensure there is always hot water available, even in the worst weather.
The range is suitable to use even in low-sun conditions, and also features anti-frost features to protect the panels and keep them running at optimal capacity. Tanks range in size from 270L to 410L. The largest tank uses three solar panels, while the smaller ones are integrated with two.
What heat pump hot water system is the best?
Heat pump hot water systems are the newest technology on the water heater market. A heat pump system works by gathering in the air surrounding the system and circulating it to heat it up. The created heat is then transferred to the water stored in the cylinder.
The system uses some electrical power to generate the circulation, but the majority of the energy consumed comes from the air itself. This means it is an extremely efficient and eco-friendly machine.
One of the best heat pump systems available is the Sanden Eco Plus. The heat pump has a storage capacity ranging from 160L, 250L & 315L, which makes it suitable for families of 2 to 6 people. Sanden actually claims that their heat pump system consumes up to 80% less energy than a standard electric heater. It comes with a higher price tag, but this should be outweighed by cheaper running costs in the long run.
Best hot water system brand
This is a difficult one to answer, since the market is always evolving and different brands are specialists in different types of systems. The brands we have discussed above are generally very reliable, particularly if you go for their premium products. So, some names you can rely on are Bosch, Dux, Sanden, Rinnai, Steibel ,Rheem, Solahart , Aquamax & Vulcan, just to name a few.
Best hot water system for you
This article has given you an idea of some of the pros and cons of different types of hot water systems, as well as highlighting some of the best products available on the market. However, you need to make sure that when you choose a hot water system you are making a choice that is suitable for your family in the long run. Size, short-term budget, long-term budget, eco-friendliness, and level of use are all going to play a part in your decision.
If you are at all unsure about what system best suits your needs, it will be worth your while to talk to an expert about it. Australian Hot Water supply, install, maintain and repair all of the major hot water brands and can give you the advice you need to make the right decision.