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For a sustainable hot water system, you need solar panels installed on your roof and a collector tank, right? Well, not necessarily, as solar heat pumps are another renewable option that can help you save money and the environment.

After all, they only use approximately one-third of the energy of an electric water heater, while generous government rebates make them an even more cost-effective alternative to traditional solar.

But how does a heat pump work? What are the benefits? And who should you get to install one?

How Does a Solar Heat Pump work?

A solar heat pump will capture warmth from the outside air and transfer it to water stored within the system. In many respects, a solar heat pump is like a refrigerator in reverse.

Some people may argue that this kind of system is not true solar. They say it transfers heat that is already in the surrounding air, which then gets pumped into the water. However, the air’s original heat source is the sun, which does make a heat pump solar.

Thankfully, solar heat pumps work in cold weather too. This is because external air is drawn into an evaporator containing a special type of refrigerant, which has a very low boiling point. Therefore, even cold air will enable the refrigerant to turn liquid into gas, which can then be compressed to generate heat.

What are the Benefits of a Solar Heat Pump?

  • Big savings – Over the long-term, you can make massive savings when compared with other hot water systems
  • Eco-friendly – A solar heat pump can produce between 3 and 5 times the amount of energy than the electricity needed to power it
  • Low carbon footprint – Seeing as not much energy is required, solar heat pumps emit few greenhouse gases
  • Works in winter – Along with the ability to work in low temperatures, a solar heat pump also features an electric assist for extremely cold conditions
  •  Works in summer – With a solar heat pump using air instead of the sun, there is no danger of overheating during summer
  • Ease of installation – As opposed to other systems, a solar heat pump does not require panels or roof space
  • Convenient – For added convenience, you can connect a solar heat pump to standard electric hot water system connections
  • Government rebate – Solar heat pumps still attract Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs, now known as STCs)
  • Durable – A solar heat pump is easy to protect from hail or storm damage and will stand the test of time

Who Should Install a Solar Heat Pump?

Solar heat pumps are part of hot water systems and therefore come under the remit of the plumbing trade according to NSW Fair Trading. As a result, only licensed plumbers can install solar heat pumps in New South Wales.

When it comes to engaging a plumber for the work, you should check their licence to make sure they are endorsed to install the system, as there are specific licence classes for different types of plumbing.