How Most Hot Water Systems Work?

September 8, 2021

Mitchel Plumbing Gas

How Most Hot Water Systems Work?

Understanding how hot water systems function is crucial for any homeowner, especially when it comes to making informed decisions about installations, repairs, and replacements. At Mitchell Plumbing and Gas, we believe in empowering our Brisbane clients with knowledge. In this article, we delve into the workings of most hot water systems, providing a detailed, analytical look that ties back to the services we offer in Brisbane.

The Basics of Hot Water Systems

At its core, a hot water system is designed to heat water and maintain it at a desired temperature until it's needed. In Australia, as of 2021, approximately 48% of water heaters in homes were storage systems, with 45% being instantaneous, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The fundamental components of these systems include a heat source, a water storage tank (for storage systems), a heat exchanger (for continuous systems), and a series of pipes and valves that control water flow.

Storage Hot Water Systems

Storage hot water systems work by heating water in a tank and storing it for later use. They typically operate on electricity, gas, solar energy, or a combination of these. In Brisbane, where solar radiation averages about 5.2 kWh/m² per day, solar hot water systems can be particularly efficient, potentially providing up to 90% of a household's hot water needs from solar energy alone, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

These systems are often rated by their energy efficiency. For example, a gas storage hot water system might have an efficiency of around 5-6 stars, indicating that it converts 5/6th of the fuel energy into heat. Electric systems, on the other hand, can be less efficient due to the higher greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation in some regions.

Instantaneous Hot Water Systems

Instantaneous, or continuous flow, hot water systems heat water as it flows through the device and do not store water. They are typically powered by electricity or gas. The efficiency of these systems can be very high, with some gas models achieving efficiency ratings of up to 7 stars. In Brisbane, where the average household hot water usage is around 50 liters per person per day, an instantaneous system can provide significant savings, as it only heats water on demand, reducing energy wastage.

Heat Pump Systems

Heat pump systems are another option, working on the principle of heat transfer. They use electricity to move heat from the air into the water, which is a very efficient process. In Brisbane's climate, heat pumps can achieve a coefficient of performance (COP) of between 3 and 5, meaning that for every unit of electricity used, they generate three to five units of heat. This efficiency can lead to a reduction in energy usage by up to 65% compared to conventional electric water heaters.

Solar Hot Water Systems

Solar hot water systems use solar collectors, usually installed on the roof, to absorb heat from the sun and transfer it to the water. In Brisbane, these systems can be particularly effective due to the high number of clear, sunny days. The efficiency of solar hot water systems can vary, but they can reduce water heating bills by 50 to 90%, depending on the system and household usage.

Maintenance and Efficiency

Maintenance plays a critical role in the efficiency and longevity of hot water systems. A poorly maintained system can suffer from a range of issues, such as sediment build-up or corrosion, which can reduce efficiency by up to 15%. In Brisbane, where the water supply can be high in minerals, regular maintenance by a professional service like Mitchell Plumbing and Gas is essential to prevent such issues.

Energy Consumption and Costs

Energy consumption is a significant factor for Brisbane homeowners. Hot water systems can account for up to 25% of a household's energy use. With the average electricity price in Queensland being around 24.07 cents per kWh, and the average gas price around 2.19 cents per MJ, the choice of hot water system can have a substantial impact on household bills.


In conclusion, the workings of hot water systems encompass a range of technologies and efficiencies. In Brisbane, where energy costs and environmental sustainability are of growing concern, understanding these systems is more important than ever. At Mitchell Plumbing and Gas, we provide expert advice, installation, and maintenance services to ensure that your hot water system is not only efficient and reliable but also tailored to the unique needs of your home.

Whether you're considering a new installation or looking to maintain an existing system, our team is equipped with the knowledge and experience to provide solutions that optimize performance and cost-effectiveness. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your hot water needs.

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