Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions answered.
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1. How does a Solarstream make heat from air?

2. How does a Solarstream save up to 75% on my hot water consumption?

3. Is a Solarstream heat pump a good solution for Australia, both on grid and off grid?

4. Is a Solarstream water efficient?

5. What is the life expectancy of a Solarstream Heat Pump Water Heater?

6. Can I save money by operating a Solarstream heat pump at night on Off-Peak Tariffs?

7. Can I use STCs to compare the performance of a Solarstream to other products?

8. What is the annual operating cost of a Solarstream heat pump?

9. Can a Solarstream heat pump be used in commercial or larger scale applications?

10. Does the Heat Pump outdoor unit of the Solarstream need to conform to MEPS (Star Rating) standards as required for air conditioners?

11. What is a STC and what is it worth?

12. What is VEET?

13. What is a VEEC?

14. What are the features of a Solarstream heat pump water heater?

15. Is a Solarstream easy to install?

16. What do I need to ask a qualified plumber about installing a Solarstream heat pump water heater?

17. What Plumbing components should I insist on?

18. What are the issues with water quality for a Solarstream?

19. Can I integrate an additional heating source with a Solarstream, such as solar panels or a wood fire?

20. What general maintenance does a Solarstream heat pump water heater require?

21. What do I do if my Siddons Solarstream has a problem?

22. Do I need to register my warranty?

 

1. How does a Solarstream make heat from air?

Most people are familiar with solar energy from direct sun light radiated onto solar panels. This is fine when the sun is shining but will require backup electrical heating elements when it is not. On the other hand, Solarstream uses a more reliable method of capturing solar energy from the ambient air and therefore does not need a backup electrical heating element. This heat can be captured in hail or shine, night and day, or monsoonal downpours.

As long as the air temperature is above- 5°C, there is enough heat in the air for Solarstream to make efficient hot water above 60°C. This is because the refrigerant in the heat pump is in a liquid state up to – 26°C so air at – 5°C is relatively hot and at 30°C is very hot. The heat in the air is absorbed into the refrigerant evaporating it into a gas, which can then be compressed to superheat up to 95°C. The heat from the hot gas is transferred to the tank water via a state of the art heat exchanger.

Siddons Solarstream is very economical to operate when compared to gas bottle powered water heaters and conventional electric element water heating where power is being pushed through an electric resistance element, which you will know from running an electric radiator is very expensive and inefficient.

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2. How does a Solarstream save up to 75% on my hot water consumption?

  • Solarstream uses about 3 kW/h per day depending on hot water use, ambient air temperature and humidity
  • A 10 degree rise in the ambient air temperature will translate to approx 20% greater efficiency of your Solarstream. The run time will likely be only a couple of hours under normal use conditions with ambient air temperatures above 30 deg C.
  • Higher humidity also increases performance so your Solarstream will be very efficient in a tropical monsoonal downpour with warm air and high humidity.

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3. Is a Solarstream heat pump a good solution for Australia, both on grid and off grid?

There are currently over 7 million separate domestic water heaters installed in Australian houses, and a further 1 million in apartments and other accommodation.

More than four million dwellings in Australia still have electric element hot water heaters. If the power from these four million water heaters could be cut by 75%, Australia could make a huge step forward to meeting its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

With attractive Government rebates still being offered, together with savings from longer product life, it makes complete sense to install to a Solarstream.

Reference: “Regulation Impact Statement: for Decision Phasing Out Greenhouse-Intensive Water Heaters in Australian Homes. Prepared for the National Framework for Energy Efficiency by George Wilkenfeld & Associates with National Institute of Economic & Industry Research 15 November 2010.”

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4. Is a Solarstream water efficient?

Australia is the driest continent on Earth so we know it is important to conserve water for our future and the future of our children.

A Solarstream heat pump water heater does not suffer from overheating in the sweltering summer sun and dumping water to cool it, it simply turns off.

On the other hand, Solar panels on the roof can overheat. When that happens, they may circulate water to cool them then inefficiently dump this water. This problem increases if you are not at home to use the hot water.

The Solarstream will wait patiently and idle for your return. It will turn on when the water temp in the tank cools enough over several days to trigger the controller to turn it on. Run time will likely be only a couple of hours depending on the air temperature. In such situations, using the timer to enable your Solarstream to run in the afternoon is a good idea so it will run most efficiently. It is also better for the heat pump to keep running periodically rather than have long periods where it is shut down. This keeps oil in the refrigeration system cycling around and ensures control of legionella bacteria.

You can install a Solarstream in your holiday house and leave it on all the time, knowing that it will cost very little to provide you with hot water on demand year round.

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5. What is the life expectancy of a Solarstream Heat Pump Water Heater?

Most stainless steel condenser water tanks last more than 20 years. Siddons Solarstream tanks are guaranteed for 10 years in normal domestic use with good water quality coming from mountain fed reservoirs.

The full life span will depend on your water quality – the purer the water, the longer the life.

The compressor in your Solarstream Heat Pump is a high quality rotary type, similar to the compressor in your refrigerator and should have a similar life span.

You can help to extend the life of the hot water storage tank within your Solarstream by installing a water filter into the inlet water line. This is particularly important if you are located in WA, SA, NT or in rural locations of QLD, NSW and VIC where your water is coming from rivers, dam, bores or other ground water aquifers.

GLASS CRYSTAL WATER SOFTENING FILTER

Siddons recommends the Tanamet XD50 crystal water softening filter, which provides a slowly dissolving “glassy” polyphosphate into the water. This filter is specifically designed for domestic hot water systems. The glassy polyphosphate crystals are applied by means of a cartridge placed in a filter housing installed into the water supply inlet before entering the hot water storage tank. The crystals dissolve very slowly at the rate of a few parts per million into the inlet water flow to prevent scale formation and corrosion. They also soften hard water, reduce scaling, reduce corrosion, reduce copper staining, stabilize dissolved iron (red water) and stabilise manganese.

The Tanamet XD50 filter has a life of approximately 8 years after which time you must replace the filter to maintain storage tank life when the crystals finally dissolve. Other similar crystal water treatment systems dissolve much more quickly which is why we recommend Tanamet XD50 crystals, available from Siddons.

Tanamet XD50 crystals do not have any adverse effect on the quality of water consumption for humans and as at 2013 their use has been approved by Water Authorities in Australia and France.

LIMESTONE FILTER FOR RAINWATER TANKS

If you are using rainwater as you inlet water into your Solarstream, we recommend installing a limestone water filter or placing some limestone into your rainwater tank. Limestone will raise the pH of rainwater from between 5.5 and 6.0 to above 6.5.This is due to carbon dioxide dissolved in the atmosphere and with pollution in the air it can become even more acidic (eg Europe has a significant acid rain problem).

Neutral pH is 7.0. Our warranty conditions state 6.5 to 8.5 so you must take action to raise the alkalinity of your rain water supply.

Contact your Dealer or Siddons to purchase a limestone filter. You will be able to monitor the slow dissolving limestone and you must replace the filter to maintain storage tank life when the limestone finally dissolves.

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6. Can I save money by operating a Solarstream heat pump at night on Off-Peak Tariffs?

The Siddons Solarstream heat pump water heater is able to operate at night because it can extract solar energy from the ambient air rather than relying on radiated heat from the sun (like Solar Panels or Evacuated Tubes). Night time off peak electricity tariffs are nearly half that of day tariffs (ask your electricity provider for rates) so it makes sense to heat water at night.

As long as your normal daily water use is less than the water capacity of the Solarstream model you have purchased, the hot water produced during the nightly Off-Peak Tariff period (approx 3-4 hours depending on your ambient water and air temperature) will be available to you throughout the following day.

Not only does the Solarstream save you money, it can also help make money. If you have installed Photo Voltaic Cells for power generation during the day, you can transfer your water heating power needs to the night.

You should keep in mind that ambient air temperatures below 5 deg C will see the de-icing feature of your Solarstream activate to clear the ice on the evaporator. Whilst the de-icing mode takes only a minute, this is one minute where your Solarstream is not making heat. In temperatures of minus 5 degrees C, the de-icing mode may activate every 30 minutes so you may be better to run your Solarstream in the afternoon at the warmest time of day.

Solarstream All-in-one units have a timer installed inside top lid that you can adjust. For split units, we recommend installing a pool pump timer set to run for 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Your Solarstream should turn itself off when the thermostat reaches its set point before the timer cuts power to the heat pump.

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7. Can I use STCs to compare the performance of a Solarstream to other products?

Yes you can compare the Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) earned by your Solarstream relative to your climate zone against other solar products to compare performance. The better solar water heaters perform in a variety of climatic conditions, the more STCs they are awarded.

You can find the STCs allocated to the Siddons All-In-One here, and the Siddons BOLT-ON here.

Heat Pump Water Heaters are included on the Federal Government’s “register of solar water heaters” attracting new and improved rebates through the STC of $40 fixed price per STC. The market price is likely to be a bit less than this and you can check online for the current price.

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8. What is the annual operating cost of a Solarstream heat pump?

Based on user experience and test data, the annual power usage for an average family using around 200 litres per day will be around 1,000 kW/h in a Southern climate, less for Northern climates.

Cost estimates would then be as follows:

  • If you used the power from a 1 kW PV panel system during the day with an 8 cents per kW/h feed-in tariff, then the cost would be only around $80pa.
  • If you used an off-peak tariff at night of 16 cents per kW/h, then the cost would be around $190 adding on 20% extra run time for the 10 degree average power air temperature at night.
  • If you used a day-time tariff of 24 cents per kW/h, then the cost would be around $240 with 20% shorter run time for the 10-degree average higher air temperature during the day.

The running costs of an electric element water heater will be up to 4 times more. The running costs of bottled gas average around 3 times the price of natural gas.

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9. Can a Solarstream heat pump be used in commercial or larger scale applications?

Depending on your application, two or more of our standard models can be easily grouped together to handle your commercial, sporting or community hot water requirements. If you have already installed an evacuated tube system and are concerned about your high winter power bills from the back-up electric element, you can add a Solarstream heat pump to do the work during winter and cut your winter water heating bills.

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10. Does the Heat Pump outdoor unit of the Solarstream need to conform to MEPS (Star Rating) standards as required for air conditioners?

Heat Pump Water Heaters are currently not subject to minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) or any form of mandatory government-issued energy rating label. They will eventually be included in the Equipment Energy Efficiency Program, but for now Heat Pump Water Heaters are a low priority for Government regulation due to their high efficiency compared to conventional electric and gas storage water heaters.

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11. What is a STC and what is it worth?

STCs are Small-scale Technology Certificates issued by Federal rebate from 1 January 2011 to assist Sustainability. You can find the STCs allocated to the Siddons All-In-One here, and the Siddons BOLT-ON here.

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12. What is VEET?

Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme

If you live in Victoria, in addition to the Australian Government STC rebate, the Victorian Government offers an additional Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme. This is a Victorian Government initiative promoted as Energy Saver Incentive. The Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme, which commenced on 1 January 2009, aims to encourage the uptake of energy efficient technology, initially in the residential sector. The VEET scheme plays an important role in achieving the Victorian government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from households by 10 per cent by 2010 and Victoria’s overall emissions to 60 per cent by 2050.

For more information, refer to the Essential Services Commission website.

To use the VEET calculator for Siddons Solarstream models under Activity 1E – Water Heating – Electric Boosted Solar Replacing Electric, follow this link.

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13. What is a VEEC?

If you live in Victoria, you may be eligible for Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs) which are electronic certificates created in accordance with the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007 (VEET Act).

Each VEEC represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) abated by a prescribed activity. VEECs are created by accredited persons, validated and registered by the Commission, transferred between parties and eventually surrendered to the Commission to demonstrate liability compliance against the VEET Act. VEECs must be registered by the Commission before they are considered valid. The Commission maintains a register of VEECs. A certificate is only valid as a VEEC if listed in this register. VEECs can only be created in respect of prescribed activities undertaken on or after 1 January 2009 and before 1 January 2030, and must be created by no later than six months after the end of the year in which the prescribed activity has been undertaken. For example, where a prescribed activity is undertaken in February 2009, VEECs can be created in respect of that activity up to 30 June 2010. A VEEC will expire 6 years from the date on which the prescribed activity was undertaken, or upon surrender to the Commission.

For more information, refer to the Essential Services Commission website

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14. What are the features of a Solarstream water heater?

Please refer to the Products area on our website.

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15. Is a Solarstream easy to install?

Yes, your Solarstream is easy to install and should take your plumber around 3 hours for a typical installation. It will take less time than installing panels on your roof because there is nothing that needs to be installed on your roof; the heat pump can sit beside the tank on the ground.

Your Solarstream can be installed:

  • In heavily treed areas
  • Southerly aspects
  • Under your house as long as you have good airflow
  • With heat pump up to 5m distant from the storage tank if you choose our Bolt-on/tank package
  • With tank inside and heat pump outside in cold climates
  • With tank outside and heat pump inside in the tropics to dehumidify and cool all year round
  • To make use of the free air conditioning when it heats the water

In many situations, solar panels are not appropriate:

  • If your roof is not facing north
  • If your roof is not designed to handle a huge additional weight such as a water storage tank (around 400 kg when filled with water) as used in thermosiphon systems for example.
  • In areas prone to torrential rain, hail or high winds where panels and tubes are easily damaged or direct sun shine is limited for much of the year
  • On heritage buildings with aesthetic restrictions

You will require a licensed plumber to install your Solarstream. You can use your own plumber or we may be able to assist you to find a licensed plumber in your area. Click here.

For more information please refer to our Installation Guides on each of the Products pages on our website.

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16. What do I need to ask a qualified plumber about installing a Solarstream heat pump water heater?

  • Ask your plumber about the water pressure in your street. If your street water pressure is above 500kPa (kilopascal) you will require a pressure limiting valve fitted to the water inlet pipe flowing to your Solarstream. We recommend a pressure limiting valve of high quality rated to 2,000 kPa water supply pressure or request one to be supplied by Siddons.
  • What is the estimated cost for installing a Solarstream and how long will it take? In general, it should take your plumber no more than 3 hours for a typical installation. However, we recommend that your plumber view your home/place of installation prior to quoting in case there are special requirements for your installation. We recommend your plumber reviews the installation instruction in the Owner’s Manual of your unit.
  • Technical Advice? Whilst all of the technical information your plumber needs is contained in the Owner’s Manual, Siddons is happy to offer additional technical advice if required. Contact us for Service Manuals.

17. What Plumbing components should I insist on?

Siddons Solarstream recommends quality plumbing components for longer life of your Solarstream Water Heater. The Siddons QIK Kit (QIK15-SOLAR-SHPA1) is designed to make installations more professional and easier. Everything your plumber needs is conveniently included in the one box.

Water contains minerals, which can cause problems especially when heated. Also, high water pressure will reduce tank life so the Quickie Kit contains a pressure limiting valve rated to 2,000 kPa that will deliver water to the cylinder at an easy 500kPa. This will deliver good water pressure but not excessive pressure that will waste water and shorten tank life. The components of the Quickie Kit have been designed to meet new plumbing regulations including insulating gloves on all components.

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18. What are the issues with water quality for a Solarstream?

Australia being the driest continent on Earth typically has water quality issues in many places. If your water supply comes from a reservoir fed by water from a mountain range, then you water is likely to be very good. In such circumstances, you can use a 316 stainless steel water storage tank. If your water is chlorinated or comes from rivers, bores or ground water aquifers, typically in SA, WA parts of NT and regional locations way from the Great Dividing Range, then you should use a glass/enamel storage tank with anodes to absorb the minerals dissolved into the hot water.

At elevated temperatures at 60 degrees C, the mineral content in the water can cause electrolytic conductivity that will attack the stainless steel tank wall causing rust and ultimately rendering the tank defective.

Where water stored in the tank exceeds the following characteristics, you will likely have an issue with corrosion on a 316 stainless steel storage tank and you will void your warranty:

Total dissolved solids

600 mg/litre or parts per million

Total hardness

200 mg/litre or parts per million

Chloride

250 mg/litre or parts per million

Magnesium

10 mg/litre or parts per million

Sodium

150 mg/litre or parts per million

Electrical Conductivity

850 μS/cm (micro siemens per centimetre)

pH

Min 6.5 and Max 8.5

To improve the life of the storage tank, we recommend the following:

GLASS CRYSTAL WATER SOFTENING FILTER

The Tanamet XD50 crystal water softening filter provides a slowly dissolving “glassy” polyphosphate into the water to improve the life of the tank as well as other appliances and fittings using the hot water. This filter is specifically designed for domestic hot water systems.

The glassy polyphosphate crystals are applied by means of a cartridge placed in a filter housing installed into the water supply inlet before entering the hot water storage tank. The crystals dissolve very slowly at the rate of a few parts per million into the inlet water flow to prevent scale formation and corrosion. They also soften hard water, reduce scaling, reduce corrosion, reduce copper staining, stabilize dissolved iron (red water) and stabilise manganese.

The Tanamet XD50 filter has a life of approximately 8 years after which time you must replace the filter to maintain storage tank life when the crystals finally dissolve. Other similar crystal water treatment systems dissolve much more quickly which is why we recommend Tanamet XD50 crystals, available from Siddons.

Tanamet XD50 crystals do not have any adverse effect on the quality of water consumption for humans and as at 2013 their use has been approved by Water Authorities in Australia and France.

LIMESTONE FILTER FOR RAINWATER TANKS

If you are using rainwater as you inlet water into your Solarstream, we recommend installing a limestone water filter or placing some limestone into your rainwater tank. Limestone will raise the pH of rainwater from between 5.5 and 6.0 to above 6.5.This is due to carbon dioxide dissolved in the atmosphere and with pollution in the air it can become even more acidic (eg Europe has a significant acid rain problem).

Neutral pH is 7.0. Our warranty conditions state 6.5 to 8.5 so you must take action to raise the alkalinity of your rain water supply.

Contact your Dealer or Siddons to purchase a limestone filter. You will be able to monitor the slow dissolving limestone and you must replace the filter to maintain storage tank life when the limestone finally dissolves.

19. Can I integrate an additional heating source with the Solarstream, such as solar panels or a wood fire?

Operating your Solarstream heat pump water heater for 12 months is highly cost effective at only around $120-$150 a year, and even less on off-peak tariffs. Therefore using additional heating sources to augment the performance of Solarstream are not necessary and unless it’s a commercial application, would unlikely be cost effective. Raising the water temperature above the maximum design temperature of 65 degrees Celcius can also cause problems. Alternations to the intended purpose of your Solarstream can also void your warranty.

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20. What general maintenance does a Solarstream heat pump water heater require?

Good airflow across the heat pump evaporator fins is required for optimal operation of your Solarstream therefore we recommend brushing or hosing down the fins at least once every 6 months. A build up of grass or other material may prevent good air flow across the fins so keep the fins free of such obstacles.

We also recommend that you release the pressure and temperature relief valve once every twelve months. To do this, simply gently raise and then lower the valve lever (positioned at the top of the tank near the hot water outlet). Refer to your Owner’s Manual for more details.

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21. What do I do if my Siddons Solarstream has a problem?

Firstly, review our troubleshooting page or this FAQ section of our website. If the problem remains unresolved, contact the dealer you purchased your unit from for assistance. If you are unable to reach your dealer for any reason, contact Siddons Solarstream. Please take note of your serial number first for warranty verification purposes.

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22. Do I need to register my warranty?

Yes, for efficient processing of warranty claims, should they arise, please take a minute to register your Siddons Solarstream here.

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