Rheem Solar Hot Water System and Heater Reviews

Rheem has been an Australian household name in hot water systems for many years. They produced their first water heater in 1939 and fast became the gold standard in the industry. What many people don’t know is that Rheem have also been at the forefront of solar and other renewable energy water heating for over 25 years. The following are the current models available from Rheem and we find out if they manage to meet our high standards.

Roof Mounted Solar Hot Water Heater

A Rheem roof mounted solar hot water systemThere are four roof mounted solar hot water systems in the current range. The roof mounted direct and indirect steel solar water heaters are the traditional design that has been popular in Australia for decades. The main difference between the two models is the way the water is heated. The indirect water heater uses a system of anti-freeze fluid and a heat exchange system to heat the water, and in the direct system water passes through the collector and is directly heated. This means that the indirect system is suitable for cooler climates that are prone to frost. Both of these models are available in a number of colours to suit any house design.

The other two roof mounted models (the Hiline and Premiere Hiline) combine the traditional system with an in roof water tank, which is designed to free up space at the ground level (where the traditional solar water heater tank is installed). The two models are similar, but the Premier model is suitable for cooler climates and frost prone areas.

There are two types of solar collectors that are currently used by Rheem. The Australis collector and the Titan. The Australis is constructed of copper and aluminium and is the most popular choice. The Titan has been designed for high performance and uses advanced titanium coated copper. This makes it one of the most efficient solar hot water systems available.

SystemInstallationCool climate/frost compatibleWarranty
HilineOutdoorNo5 Years
Hiline PremiereOutdoorYes6 Years
Roof Mounted DirectOutdoorNo7-10 Years
Roof Mounted IndirectOutdoorYes7-10 Years

Ground Mounted Combined/Split Systems

A Rheem Loline hot water heater.These systems are very similar to the traditional solar hot water heaters, but they are specifically designed with a slim profile in mind. This reduces the structural load on the roof, which means that they are suitable for some non standard installations. They also have a low profile, which means that they provide a better visual impact on the roof (they can even be hidden in some cases). As with the other models, there are two options available; the Rheem Premier Loline and the standard Loline. The Premier Loline is designed to work in all climates, including frost prone areas.

SystemInstallationFrost compatibleWarranty
LolineIndoor/OutdoorNo5 Years
Loline PremiereIndoor/OutdoorYes5 Years

Alternative Options

Rheem also offers a number of alternative options for water heating including gas, split system heat pumps and energy efficient electric models. In the event that a solar system is not suitable for your property, then these models provide a low energy and environmentally friendly option. There are times when a solar hot water system is not available, such as if your roof space is unsuitable for install or if your property is surrounded by shade (other properties, trees etc). As with all solar hot water systems, the Rheem models feature electric or gas boost for times when a little extra heating is required.

Prices

Price, including installation, for a solar hot water heater depends on the model that you are installing and the difficulty/complexity of the install. A standard model combined with a standard install averages about $3000-$4000 before rebates. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2000 through to $10000. A replacement is likely to be cheaper because the existing pipework may cut installation costs/tine. The only way you can get an accurate figure for your home is to arrange a free quote. It is a good idea to ensure you obtain as many quotes as possible to ensure you get the best price. It is also important to consider that you may be eligible for government incentives for installing a solar hot water system. To confirm your eligibility you should speak with the manufacturer and/or installer before signing a contract or purchasing a new unit.

Our Thoughts/Review

Rheem remains one of the most trusted brands in hot water systems and their products are generally known for high quality and extended warranties (the shortest warranty on the solar products is 5 years). The solar systems have had some teething problems over the years, but most customers report that they are satisfied with the service they have received from the company when a warranty claim is required. The solar water heaters are a great way to reduce your power bill as well as reducing your impact on the environment. If you are considering installing a solar hot water system in your new home, or are replacing an old system, then the Rheem range of solar products should definitely be a part of your considerations.

Read More →

Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water

Heating water can be one of the largest household expenses. In fact, electric hot water systems can cost in excess of $1000 a year to run. It is for this reason that many people are switching to solar hot water systems, which are more expensive to install but have lower overall running costs. Solar hot water systems have been used in Australia for many years, but a recent development in solar hot water has created a more efficient system that costs virtually nothing to run.

Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors

evacuated tube solar hot water installed on a roof frame.An evacuated tube hot water system is made up of glass tubes that are fused at the top and bottom. The air from the tubes is evacuated (hence the name) to create a vacuum, which reduces the heat loss to the environment. The tubes contain a thin heat pipe made of copper (this runs through the centre of the glass tube) that is connected to a slow flow pump. Water slowly passes through the tubes and it is heated by the sun. This water is then pumped into an insulated storage tank, which can be used during the day or night. Depending on the size of the system the hot water is constantly available without the need for an electric booster.

Development of the technology

Evacuated tube technology was developed in Australia in partnership with the New South Wales government. Once the technology was developed it was sold to China and it is now the most common form of solar hot water in this region.

Advantages

Superior Heat ExtractionThis is the main advantage of this type of solar hot water system. Evacuated tube systems can heat water in almost any conditions and they don’t require constant direct sunlight. The vacuum system creates a very high efficiency system, which means that an electric booster is required less often!
Non-standard InstallationDue to the higher efficiency these systems can be installed in areas where the sun is not an an optimal angle. They can also be installed in a stand alone ground installation with a specially designed frame.
DurabilityThese units are extremely durable and can be used in almost any area. They are capable of working to -12°C.
RepairThese units are far cheaper to repair than other solar systems should they be damaged.

Cost and Rebates

The cost of an evacuated tube solar hot water system depends on a number of factors such as eligibility for government rebates, size of system and tank, brand of system, as well as the difficulty of install. For example, a standard install and added government rebates you may find a supplier offering a special price of about $1000 for a 30 tube and 250 litre system. On the other end of the scale a difficult install of a 40 tube and 350 litre Apricus system, without government rebates, can easily cost upwards of $5000.
There are many state and federal government rebates for these systems and it is important to ask your installer about which rebates you are eligible for before installing. You also need to understand Small-scale technology certificates (STCs), which you may be eligible for when installing a renewable energy system such as solar hot water. This is part of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and there are many benefits for home owners available. See the Clean Energy Regulator website for more details.

Read More →

Solar Pool Heaters for Quality Water Heating

Many Australians have a swimming pool in the backyard and most see plenty of use during the warmer months. However, the number one reason that the backyard pool becomes deserted is cooler weather, which reduces the water temperature. This can occur at any time of the year, especially if your pool is in a shaded spot or you live in the southern parts of the country. There is a solution to this problem – a water heater. These are a great way of bringing the water up to a comfortable temperature for swimming and extending your swimming season throughout the whole year. Although there are many types of water heating options, one of the cheapest and most efficient is a solar pool heater.

Solar Pool Heating

A pool area with solar collectors installed on the roof.The basic idea for solar pool heating is to heat the water in specially designed panels on the roof of your house and then transfer this heated water into your pool. The water from the pool is pumped through a solar collector, which are usually installed on the roof of your house or shed, and it is heated by the sun as it flows through the collector. This water is then returned to the pool. This can be installed as a fully automatic system, with a digital controller, and you can even have it set to achieve a desired temperature. On average you can expect a 5 -7 degree increase in the water temperature during the warmer months and 2-4 degrees in the cooler months. The running costs of this system are virtually nothing, because the existing pool pump is used to pump water to and from the solar collector. If you don’t have a roof space to install this system they can be installed on a specially designed frame. The cost of this type of system depends on how large your pool is and whether you need an automatic or manual system. The cost of installation also needs to be considered, but DIY kits are available. The following are some of the advantages of solar pool heaters compared with traditional gas or electric water heaters.

  • More economical
  • They work on cloudy days as well (without the same efficiency)
  • Very quiet, even under full operation
  • Simple to install and can be installed almost anywhere
  • No power is required
  • Extend swimming season
  • A quality system will last 20-30 years
  • Can be used together with other water heaters
  • Automatic or manual control
Solar collectors installed on a roof.

This solar pool heating system in installed on the roof of a house.

Frame mounted solar collectors.

This pool heating system is mounted on a custom frame.

Thermal Swimming Pool Covers

Thermal pool cover.These covers are designed to retain the heat in your pool. They are essential for owners who already have pool heating installed because they help retain the heat from the heater so that water heating is required less often. Thermal pool covers are available in the traditional bubble cover and the newly developed thermal cover designs. Bubble covers are great for retaining heat, but they don’t last as long or look as good as a modern thermal blanket. Thermal blankets cost about $25-35 per square metre, which means a standard pool cover costs about $1000. You also need to factor in the costs of installation and a roller for your cover. Some states offer rebates for installing a thermal cover and they are actually mandatory in some locations. You can expect a thermal swimming pool cover to last approximately 10 years and a bubble cover to last 6 years. The following are some of the main advantages of using a thermal pool cover.

Save Energy If you use gas or electricity to heat your pool then a thermal cover can help you save money on your power bill!
Save WaterEvaporation is the number one cause of lost water in Australian swimming pools. They can actually lose more than a pool full of water each year -this could be as much as 200 litres per day! A thermal cover not only keeps the water warmer, but it also reduces evaporation.
Increase Swimming TimeA warmer pool means more swimming time and a longer swimming season!

Read More →