Q: Is solar water a viable alternative to gas or electricity?

A: There are many ways to heat your hot water, solar is the most efficient. To compare cost options from independant testing and modelling check out EECA’s water heating guide https://www.energywise.govt.nz/tools/water-heating/ This will allow you to compare technologies.

Q: How long will it take to recoup my investment?

A: Typically 4-5 years.

Q: Can it be used in cold conditions?

A: Yes the system relies on Sunshine and as such can be used even when the temperature is below zero, they use evacuated tube technology in the antarctic to heat water.

Q: What happens if a tube is broken?

A: The system still works but at a very slightly lesser rate, the system physically shows you if a tube is out of order, tubes can easily be replaced. A replacement tube is $35.

Q: Are the solar collectors noticeable on the roof?

A: Yes they are generally visible, for a view of what they look like please view the gallery. Especially on a dark long run roof they blend in well.

Q: How do I protect my solar system during subzero temperature?

A: Water in these units are always insulated therefore frost protection requirements are minimal. The controller will circulate warm water through the system if temperature in the system drops below 2C.

Q: What maintenance of the solar is required?

A: Minimal, about once per year we recommend inspecting the tubes and potentially giving them a quick wash with a hose. Generally the rain keeps them clean. As they are cylindrical dirt (and bird poop) slides off.

Q: Is there a government subsidy I can apply for?

Unfortunately no, there was a government grant scheme run through the EECA Energywise program, however that scheme has now closed, as of the 14th of June 2012. However there are other subsidies available if you have a Kiwibank or NZ Homes Loans mortgage.
See https://www.kiwibank.co.nz/personal-banking/home-loans/rates-and-options/sustainable/ or http://www.nzhomeloans.co.nz/Home+Loan/Sustainable+Energy+Loan.html

Q: How long will it take to install?

A: For a standard install it will usually only take 1 day to install

Q: What installation costs are there?

A: Typically, $1,000 – $1,500 labour and between $450-$550 parts depending on your installer, for new homes this is made more cost effective by using your plumber and electrician on site.

Q: Will this system work with mains and low pressure?

A: Yes the manifold will handle 10bar pressure, the system cycles water around your hot water cylinder so will work at any pressure. The main issue when looking at low pressure systems the solar manifold needs to be below the height of the header tank. If you have a mains presure system you may want to think about upgrading to Mains Pressure at the time of your install.

Q: How strong is the system (will hail break the glass tubes?)

A: Our system has been tested and passed for 25mm hail stones. The biggest hail we have experienced was in 2012 in Christchurch. This hail damaged clearlite roofing and wrote off cars with pockmarks. In the worst area, we had 5 solar systems and a total of 6 tubes were damaged. It took 1 hour to replace all tubes and these were covered under the insurance from the greater damage to the properties.

Q: How long will my system last?

A: The system is guaranteed for 10 years however is expected to last as long as the roof that it is on. All parts are essentially metal and glass, materials that do not break down. Sunshine Solar systems have been installed since 2004 and are still working as well as when they were installed.

Q: What happens if there is not enough sun?

A: This is different based on your existing setup. For a solar ready cylinder typically we use a mid cylinder element only. The solar preheats to this element. If there is not enough energy from the solar panel the element will automatically top up the system. For a retrofit cylinder, if over half of the cylinder is “cold” and it is night time the element will kick in to boost the solar.

Q: What is better Solar or Hot Water heatpump?

A: These systems work differently and the answer depends on climate, cylinder size and what else you are doing with water heating (eg central heating). Our general guidelines are Solar is best with larger cylinders and will give you the most efficient water heating. Hot water heatpumps are best when combining with central heating. We do not recommend intergrated hot water heatpumps in central north island or from Canterbury and below due to poor cold weather performance. Solar has a much longer life than a Hot Water Heat Pump (Guarantees are 10 years rather than 2 years).

Q: Can I future proof for solar?

A: If you are building we recommend that you install a 3 pin plug in your cylinder cupboard and get a solar ready cylinder with an additional mid element which you will also wire back to the switchboard.

Q: Solar Hot Water or Solar Electricity (PV)?

A: The best answer is generally both. Solar Water Heating is around 5 times more efficient than Solar power so will take up much less roof space and cost than a PV system. PV is best when you can use the energy when you gain it. So great for businesses or if someone is mostly home during the day. Solar water heating uses a storage medium to store the days energy (hot water cylinder).

Q: How many Solar systems has Sunshine Solar installed?

A: Sunshine Solar has installed around 4,000 solar water heating systems

Q: Do I need consent?

A: If you are replacing your existing cylinder as well as adding solar, you do not need a building consent,
however if you are building new or retrofitting to an existing cylinder you do require a consent. We have all the
documentation required for council and in most cases, we will take care of the consent for you (or if you are
building we will send the documentation through to your architect / building contact to add to the consent).

Q: Where is the system made?

A: Sunshine Solar has the exclusive New Zealand distribution rights for He Jia Solar (Chinese) We supply the development for them and in return get New Zealand exclusivity.

Q: Are there any subsidies available with Solar?

A: Kiwibank and NZ Homeloans have a “sustainable energy loan” where they will allow you to pay off your solar over 5 years and give you $2000 to help.

Q: Can I pay off my solar?

A: You will need to talk to your retailer / assessor about this. There are many options here on finance.

Q: What is the Marlborough Solar Scheme?

A: If you are in the Marlborough council area you can pay off your solar system in your rates over 9 years, check it out at: http://www.marlborough.govt.nz/Our-Community/Energy-Efficiency/Solar-Water-Heating.aspx

Q: What is coming up in Solar water technology?

A: We have development work in process ongoing with CPIT and the University of Canterbury, future developments include phase change material to store energy for longer, WiFi based performance monitoring, and uses for Solar in desalination and dewatering.

Q: Flat panel or evacuated tube?

A: We used to supply and install flat plate collectors. These however are prone to frost damage and closed loop systems have a lot more maintenance required. Therefore as a business we have decided to go to the more efficient, robust tube option.

Q: Does the pitch of my roof matter?

A: Solar collectors need to be installed at a minimum of 22°. The optimum pitch is about 35°. If your roof is less
than 22°, we can install the solar panel on a roof stand to lift it up to between 22-45°.

Q: Its a cloudy day and I don’t have any hot water, why isn’t the electrical back up working?

A: A lot of cylinders don’t come with resettable thermostats. This means if you have a really hot day and you’re cylinder has tried to over heat, the thermostat has probably popped and so the electrical back up is not working. There is a small reset button on your thermostat that needs to be pressed (usually with a pin or pen) to reset it, please call the main office for instructions on how to do this. You have probably been running on only solar energy for awhile, you just don’t realise it until you get a few cloudy days in a row and need the electrical back up.
We can install a resettable thermostat for you, so you don’t have to reset it yourself, these cost $60+GST, and usually an hours labour.