While I am shamelessly plugging products with free abandon, I'd like to record my admiration for the Apricus evacuated tube solar hot water system we had installed some months ago. This thing is an absolute gem - so far. We got the 250 litre 20 tube system. We were used to living with a 50 litre electric system in the shed for the last three years. So 250 litres should be ample.
The style of laborious deliberation we have honed throughout this entire house experience was deployed when we were considering the solar hot water system. Hours of reading, questioning and misguided assumption fueled heated discussions with each other went into this decision and I think I can safely say that in the end we did the right thing.
To sum up this research in a few words, we went for the evacuated tube system because of its efficiency claims and its trouble free frost proof-ness. The flat panel systems that were frost free were potentially unsafe to roof collected water supplies such as ours. There is some additive in their that could leak if the unit was damaged in any way. One would have to isolate that part of the roof's water collection. We weren't prepared to do this. Now on to efficiency, I guess in the end all those diagrams on tube promotional material depicting arrows being emitted from the sun and hitting tubes at various angles won me over. Testimonials claiming the lack of need to turn on the water system's boosting despite 'grey days' also cheerfully chimed in until I was sold. We found a fairly local plumber who specialises in Apricus installation and it was up and going in half a day.
We have been using hot water in the house now for 6 weeks and so far I have not turned on the electric booster. It has been great. Over the last few weeks we have had a lot of rainy days with none or very little direct sun light. The water went down in temp to just warm enough for a shower on the third grey day. With winter coming along soon I am interested to see if this performance will change. Now, yes, perhaps I will stubbornly insist that we have cold showers before any boosting is done in this house, but I am still keen to find out if we will make it through.
The one downside to this system is cost. I thought before purchasing that we would be eligible for a raft of rebates that would take the pain out of the $3978 punch in the pocket. The installation cost was $800 and was perfect. We got RECS back of $989 which helped. So all up the system cost $3789. I thought we could get a further $1000 from the Federal Government and about $600 from the NSW state government because in theory we were upgrading an old system. It came with the house. However in many respects what we are doing here is considered a new house and does not attract certain upgrade rebates. Oh well. At least we still have the first home owners' grant up our sleeve.
We chose the Apricus over the Hills brand simply because it was cheaper and it came with a 20 tube sytem rather than 22. We have a lot of sun where we are and anything over 20 is really overkill. Apricus has wonderful after sales service with technicians on hand almost 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns. Fantastic.