Frequently Asked Questions

Solar Hot Water FAQs

What is a Solar Water Heater?

In simple terms, a solar hot water system is a 'hybrid' water heater; that is, a hot water system that utilises two types of energy working together to maintain a stored water temperature of around 60 Degrees C.

Solar heat energy is its primary energy source, and is supplemented with some form of purchased energy such as electricity or gas. 

Over the course of a year, a correctly sized solar water heater should obtain around 60-80% of its energy requirements from the Sun with the balance from purchased energy.

What are solar (thermal) collectors?

A solar thermal collector is a device, designed into a panel arrangement which is then fixed to a frame or the roof of a building. They are called collectors because they are designed to collect heat energy by absorbing sunlight.

Solar thermal collectors are different to solar power (PV) panels because in a solar hot water system collectors are used to transfer thermal energy to the fluid circulating through them.

Chromagen supply two types of high efficiency solar thermal collectors; 1) Flat plate collectors and 2) Evacuated tube collectors.

In a solar hot water system, what is the difference between a split system and a thermosiphon (roof top) system?

A split system simply describes the fact that the hot water storage tank and collectors are installed separately from one another. The tank is installed at ground level, and the collectors are mounted on the roof, meaning they are 'split'. In a split system a circulating pump is used to pump the water through the roof-mounted collectors and back into the tank as heated water.

In a thermosiphon system, the tank and collector are coupled together and mounted on the roof, so the system is completely located on the roof top. It is called a thermosiphon system because the water circulates from the collectors and in to the tank using a natural process of convection, so an electric pump is not required.

What is better – having my tank on the roof, or on the ground?

This really comes down to your personal preference and the design of your home. As you would expect from a world leading manufacturer, Chromagen provide a number of different solar products to suit each customer's requirements. Ultimately both roof & ground-mounted systems provide you with energy efficient hot water and both can be either gas or electrically boosted.

Generally, systems installed with the tank at ground level (Split systems) provide your home with a level of aesthetics that some customers prefer, although if you have limited space at ground level and your roof is structurally strong enough, then a roof-mounted tank may be your preference (roof top thermosiphon system).

What direction should my new Chromagen collectors face?

As Australia is in the southern hemisphere, to obtain maximum performance from your solar collectors, they need to be installed facing north, or as close to north as possible.

In general, facing collectors in a North Easterly or North Westerly direction will have very little impact on the overall performance, however facing them directly East or West will reduce their efficiency. In these instances, solar performance can be improved by the addition of another collector to compensate, or in some cases the collectors may be installed on an 'A' frame facing north.

For best performance the collectors should be inside the arc of 70 degrees west of north through to 50 degrees east of north as outlined in AS/NZS2712.

Under no circumstances, should solar collectors be installed facing south of either east or west, and west is always preferred over east, due to the hotter afternoon sun.

What does ‘Open Loop’ & ‘Closed Loop mean’?

In simple terms, an 'open loop' system is heated by taking the water stored in the hot water tank and passing it directly through the solar collectors, where it's heated before returning to the hot water tank. This is the most popular type of system and is widely used in most areas with generally good water quality and low frost risk areas.

A 'closed loop' system employs a heat exchanger either within, or surrounding the storage tank. A heat exchange fluid comprising a mixture of water and food grade glycol is passed through the solar collectors and the stored water is heated when the fluid passes through the heat exchanger. In these systems the heated fluid is separated from the tank water and does not mix. This type of system is generally employed in areas classed as ‘hard water’ where collectors can become blocked or harsh frost areas where the glycol solution prevents the fluid freezing.

What’s a ‘booster’?

As a general rule of thumb, on a clear sunny day the solar component of your new solar water heater will generally raise the stored water temperature to around twice the ambient temperature of the day. Your 'booster', utilising either Gas or Electricity, ensures that the water delivered to your taps is always heated to a 'useable' temperature.

Should I leave my booster turned off to maximise solar savings?

Your new Chromagen solar water heater is designed to utilise two energy sources operating simultaneously to provide you with energy efficient hot water. The system is thermostatically controlled so it operates automatically to maximise energy efficiency, while ensuring you always have adequate hot water. As such, to obtain the maximum benefits of owning a solar water heater, you'll need to leave your booster turned ON.

How can I save money if I have to use a booster all the time?

Consider this. If you use a normal Gas or Electric water heater, then 100% of the energy required to heat your water from cold up to 65 Degrees Celsius will need to be purchased. With both gas & electricity prices continuing to rise, this can cost you a lot of money every year.

When you add solar energy into the equation, you can reduce the amount of purchased energy required by 60-80% or more. In some cases, solar contribution can be as high as 90%. That adds up to a substantial monetary saving.

What happens if there’s no sun, or it is the middle of winter?

Your new Chromagen solar water heater is designed to provide you with energy efficient hot water 12 months a year, come rain, hail or shine. 

Our large variety of system sizes and types means there is always a system to suit your specific requirements. Chromagen systems are available with either gas or electric boost to provide reliable hot water in any weather, and to meet the power availability in your specific location. Gas boosted systems feature Chromagen’s brilliant Eternity continuous flow gas water heaters, featuring a high 6 Star energy rating, ensuring hot water on demand and lower running costs.

Will my new Chromagen solar collectors be damaged by hail or storms?

Strict Australian Standards guidelines ensure that solar collectors sold in Australia are designed to withstand the ravages of our climate, including things like wind, rain and hail. All of Chromagen’s solar collectors undergo laboratory testing to ensure they comply with the latest standards. Glass breakage is not covered by the product warranty, so as a precaution, Chromagen recommends that the glass on your new solar collectors be covered by your household insurance.

Can I install my new Chromagen system myself?

Like any hot water system, your new Chromagen solar water heater can only be installed by qualified trades people. Your new system may require the services of people holding the appropriate plumbing, gas and electrical qualifications.

'Home handyman' type installations are very dangerous and illegal in all States & Territories. Rebates and Small-scale Technology Certificates are also not available in these cases.

How hot will the water get?

As with all ‘storage’ type water heaters your new Chromagen system will heat water to a minimum of 60 Degrees Celsius to ensure that harmful bacteria are eliminated. In summer months, or during extended periods of high temperatures the stored water can attain temperatures up to and exceeding 80 Degrees Celsius.

However, as all of our solar water heaters are fitted with anti-scalding (tempering) valves at the time of installation, you can rest assured that the hot water delivered to your home is regulated so that it won’t exceed 50 Degrees Celsius and subsequently won’t scald. As such, young children, the frail and elderly can safely operate hot water taps.

Will my Chromagen solar water heater be damaged by freezing conditions?

Chromagen’s range of ‘closed loop’ solar water heaters are so advanced they can be installed in all frost prone areas within Australia. 

By utilising a food grade Propylene Glycol in a separate heat exchange circuit, your new Chromagen solar water heater would continue to provide hot water in Australia’s snow fields in the middle of the coldest winter. As long as the correct model is selected for the area, your new Chromagen system can be operated at 40 degrees C below zero (with the correct Propylene Glycol ratio).

How much money will a Chromagen solar water heater save me?

Exact dollar amounts are difficult to calculate due to the vagaries of differing usage patterns, varying electricity costs, gas costs, and the unstable nature of weather patterns and differing locations. However as a rough rule of thumb, hot water can account for up to 30% of a household’s energy bills. A correctly sized Chromagen solar hot water system may reduce your hot water bills by 60-80%.

Will my new solar water heater power my whole home?

There are two types of solar technology on the market, one that utilises solar thermal ‘collectors’ to generate heat, and the other uses solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to make electricity. 

Your new Chromagen hot water system is powered by solar thermal collectors. As such, your new solar water heater will provide you with hot water, but cannot generate electricity.



Solar Power FAQs

Why should I install solar power?

Installing solar power on your home means that you are reducing your household's carbon footprint whilst helping you save big on your electricity bills. By generating your own electricity from the solar panels you reduce the electricity you need to buy from your electricity provider. Power prices are only escalating so if you act now, you can minimise the impact of your rising bills.

In effect, your home becomes a mini power station generating electricity. Depending on your usage and system output selected, you could virtually eliminate your electricity bills! In some states, any excess electricity from your system may be sold back in to the grid under a state's Feed-in Tariff scheme.

Adopting solar power also increases both the energy rating and value of your house, making it a smart investment choice too.

How many solar panels can I fit on my roof?

One of the most important factors in your solar power assessment is the amount of suitable roof space. To determine how many panels can fit on your roof, it is first necessary to determine how much of your roof space is actually suitable for the installation of an effective, efficient PV system.

The physical space on your roof may be significant, however due to its orientation or amount of shading from other buildings or trees, only a portion of it may be feasible for solar panel installation.

The table below gives you an indication of how many solar panels may fit on a given roof space*.


Application type



Square meters of roof space available (approx) (m²)








Number of 250W Panels








Solar System Output (kW)








*Based on a panels size of approx. 1.64m²

What are solar power panels?

Solar power (electricity) panels are also known as 'Photovoltaic' or PV modules. In simple terms, we've taken the words photo (light) & voltaic (electricity). Solar Panels simply consist of solar cells made of semi conducting materials such as silicone, which convert sunlight into electricity. When sunlight is absorbed, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms and the electrons then flow through the silicone cells producing low voltage 'DC' (Direct Current) electricity. A group of solar panels is known as an array. The electrical output of the solar system will depend on the number and size of the solar electricity panels used. Residential installations can range from 1 kW arrays with 6 panels to over 6 kW arrays with 30+ panels, and these can be tailored to suit each individual home.

What is a grid-connected solar electricity system?

Solar power panels generate electricity using the photovoltaic (PV) effect. An array of solar panels is fitted on the side of your roof that has the most exposure to the sun (north or west). These panels convert light into DC electricity. This electricity is fed through an inverter, where it is converted to AC electricity then sent directly to the house or through a meter directly into the grid.

The beauty of having a grid-connected solar electricity system is that there is no requirement for expensive batteries. When you use electricity you are using either solar generated power or power from the grid, if the solar energy is insufficient. Excess electricity is fed back into the grid and the electric company buys that power from you at the applicable 'feed-in tariff.'

What is an inverter?

Your new electricity system generates DC electricity, however because your home runs on 240 volt AC electricity, the solar generated power needs to be converted to 240 volts AC; this is done by the inverter. Once your inverter converts the DC to 240 volt AC, the electricity is then fed into your home for consumption immediately by your electrical appliances, or into the electricity grid.

What is the difference between Monocrystalline & Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

The main material used in a solar cell production is Crystalline Silicon. Crystalline Silicon can be prepared in a variety of ways for use in photovoltaic cells. The two most common types of photovoltaic cells in today's typical solar panels are:
1) Polycrystalline       2) Monocrystalline

Polycrystalline Cells:
The term "Polycrystalline" is made up of the words "POLY" and "CRYSTAL". Poly means "many", and so the term means the cell is made up of "many crystals".

To make polycrystalline (aka Multi-crystalline) cells, a crystal block is grown using many different silicon crystals.

Polycrystalline cells have been used in the production of solar panels for many years due to the lower cost to produce the crystal silicon block, which lead to more affordable solar power systems panels.

What do they look like?
Due to the nature of the original block comprising of many individual crystals, the polycrystalline cells have a distinctive visible grain or "flake" appearance when cut, as shown in the examples below.

PolycrystallineCell PolycrystallinePanel
Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Cell Polycrystalline Panel

Monocrystalline Cells:

The term "Monocrystalline" is made up of the words "MONO" and "CRYSTAL". Mono means "single", and so the term means the cell is made up of "one crystal".

In a Monocrystalline cell, the silicon-crystal wafer is cut from a single crystal ingot (a block that is cast in a standard shape). Traditionally single-crystal wafer cells are more expensive to produce due to the high purity of the silicon, the complex nature of the crystal growth and the level of processing required to produce the single-crystal.

Monocrystalline cells have become more prevalent in recent years due to the falling cost of the raw silicon material and the higher efficiency of a cell compared to Polycrystalline. The higher efficiency from a Monocrystalline cell allowed smaller panels to be manufactured. This feature allowed installers to fit fewer panels to a house for the same solar generation as a system employing silicon cell panels.

What do they look like?

In Monocrystalline cells, the crystal ingot is grown in one direction or plane, and so the crystal lattice structure is continuous and unbroken. As a result, the appearance of the cell is generally solid and without visible boundaries.

MonocrystallineCell MonocrystallinePanel
Monocrystalline Photovoltaic Cell Monocrystalline Panel

How much energy is actually generated by a solar power system?

The amount of solar energy available fluctuates depending upon the time of year, weather conditions throughout the day and where you live. The table below gives a standard guide for average power generated on a daily and annual basis, in each Australian city


Solar Generation Per Day. (kWh)

Solar Power System Output





















Alice Springs



































































































What affects the performance of a solar power system?

During daylight hours, your solar power system will be generating electricity at varying rates depending on the amount of sunshine. The more sunlight falling on the solar array the more electricity is generated.
Variable factors such as cloud cover, seasonal solar angle variations, shading from trees or buildings, or soiling of the solar array, will have an effect on the electricity output. Note that you do not need to change your energy usage lifestyle to correspond with your solar system. Your energy consumption will be supplied by both solar and the grid.

The table below shows expected system performance using a 1kilowatt (1kW) PV array facing true north at a tilt angle equal to the latitude angle, without shading.

1kW nominal PV array facing True North at a tilt angle equal to Latitude, with no shading.


Best Month
kWh per day

Worst Month
kWh per day

Annual Average
kWh per day





























Alice Springs












How can I tell how much electricity my solar panels are generating?

If your inverter has a screen display, it will show the total kilowatt hours of electricity generated since it was connected, and the total electricity generated today.

The registers on your bi-directional meter can also assist as it displays total electricity imported and total electricity exported.

What are Feed-in Tariffs?

A feed-in tariff is the rate a power retailer will pay you for excess solar-generated electricity that you feed back into the grid. Feed-in tariffs may be available for solar electricity systems in your state.

What is the difference between NET and GROSS metering?

In a net metering arrangement, the meter measures only the surplus solar-generated electricity that your premises didn’t consume. Every 30 minutes the meter records whether you have imported or exported more, and by how much. Customers are then paid a feed-in tariff based on the amount they have exported.
Gross metering measures the total amount of electricity that your solar system generates, and all of it is exported back to the grid. A feed-in tariff is based on the balance of total exported versus total imported. 
NOTE: Please consult your local energy provider for current advice on feed-in tariffs specific to your location.

Will I need a new electricity meter?

If you wish to take advantage of the feed-in tariffs available in some states, you will need ‘bi-directional’ meter. It’s important to note that organising the installation and the costs associated with your new meter are not part of the installation work carried out by your installation team. The agreement for the bi-directional meter will be between you and your electricity provider, but our team will be able to assist with the relevant compliance paperwork and process

What is a Smart Meter?

A Smart Meter is a new type of electricity meter that is being rolled out in Australian homes. There are different models of Smart Meter, but essentially they all do the same thing. Like older metering technology they measure and record how much electricity is consumed in the home. These new meters can measure the flow of electricity in and out of the home and so are required for residential renewable energy systems like solar power.

If you already have a Smart Meter in your home, and you are having a solar power system installed, your power company will arrange for the Smart Meter to be configured as a bi-direction meter.

Is it possible to upgrade my system (add more panels) later?

If you have the available roof space it may be possible to increase the output of your solar power system by adding extra panels later.
If you choose to expand, it is important to be aware that the size of the inverter supplied with your system may need to be upgraded too, if the amount of power generated exceeds the size of your existing inverter. It is important for you to note that if you require a new inverter, you may be required by your power retailer to change to a new feed-in tariff arrangement.

Please check first with your power retailer before upgrading, to ensure you are still eligible for a feed-in tariff.

What information can I get from my electricity bill?

Your average daily usage:
  • Use this to compare your average daily consumption over a period of time. This figure will also help us match a solar power system to your average consumption

Your greenhouse gas emissions
  • Use this to see and compare what your greenhouse gas emissions were during a period.

Rate per kWh
  • Use this to know what you are paying for your electricity. This will help us determine your potential savings

Amount for energy use
  • This is the amount you are paying for energy over the period of the bill – often a Quarter (3 month period). Multiply this amount by 4 to estimate your annual energy cost, or add up this value on each of your quarterly bills to get a more accurate measure.
  • This value is helpful for us to determine what your estimate energy bills will be after you install a solar power system.

Can my new solar panels be damaged by hail or storms?

Strict Australian Standards guidelines ensure that any solar panels sold in Australia are designed to withstand the ravages of our climate, including conditions like wind, rain and hail. As an added measure, your new solar power system can be covered by your household insurance.

Is my solar system from Chromagen approved for use in Australia?

Under the Australian Standards including AS3000 “The Wiring Rules”, all inverters must comply with AS 3100 and AS4777, and solar panels with AS/NZS5033. Mounting frames must be certified as being compliant with AS1170.2. Chromagen only supply complying panels and inverters.

Do I require local council permits to install a solar electricity system?

It is generally not necessary to get council approvals, however permits may be required in some municipalities. If you are unsure, it is best to check with the Town Planning department of your local council.

Does my system continue working if the grid power goes OFF?

No. It automatically switches off immediately. This is to protect the electrical line workers when repairing the problem.



Heat Pump FAQs

Why would I install a heat pump?

Heat pumps are recommended for the replacement of old energy-hungry electric water heaters, where residential gas connection is not available or where roof-mounted solar collectors are not feasible.

What is the difference between a heat pump and a solar hot water heater?

A heat pump does not use roof-top solar collectors to absorb the sun's thermal energy. Instead it uses advanced technology to extract heat energy from the surrounding air, and uses this to heat water.

Heat pumps are therefore ideal where it is not practical to install collectors on the roof due to matters of roof space, orientation or construction.

How does a heat pump work?

In very basic terms, an air-sourced heat pump is able to extract heat energy from the surrounding air and transfer it to water in the tank.

A heat pump is like an 'energy multiplier' in that it can generate around 4kW of output heat, for every 1kW of power input (depending on the surroundings). That is remarkable performance efficiency that can lead to savings of up to 75% over conventional electric storage water heaters.

How much can I save with a heat pump water heater?

A heat pump could reduce your annual water heating costs by between 60-75%. This is because the heat pump technology extracts heat energy from the air, thereby reducing your reliance on electrical power. The savings in water heating costs are based on government CER (AS/NZS 4324) modelling.

How much hot water will I get from my heat pump?

The Midea heat pumps from Chromagen come in two water holding capacities; 170 litres and 282 litres.

Chromagen recommends allowing 50 litres of hot water per person, per day. In that case our models will suit the following applications:

HP 170

170 litres

Up to 3 people

HP 280

282 litres

Up to 5 people

If the water is consumed in the tank, it will simply need time to bring the stored water back up to a usable temperature.

Will my heat pump work on an Off Peak tariff?

Yes it will, but this is not recommended by Chromagen. If run with off-peak, it will be generally running in during the evenings where ambient temperatures are cooler than that of the day. While heat pumps can work in any weather or climate, they are most efficient in warm ambient temperatures and high humidity.

The higher the temperature and humidity the more heat energy can be extracted from the air.
Therefore if you run your heat pump on an off-peak tariff it may actually cost you more than if you ran it with a day rate tariff.

Is it quiet?

Absolutely! The Midea heat pump is one of the quietest heat pumps in Australia, operating at only 48 dBA. That sound level is between the level of a quiet library and a quiet conversation at home.

Therefore, this heat pump is perfect for situations where you need to install your water heater near a boundary fence or a bedroom.

Is a heat pump right for me?

When considering if a heat pump is right for you, you should think about the following important factors:
Access to gas:
If you DON'T have access to gas then a heat pump is a great option for an electric-powered water heater that is efficient to run. If you DO have access to gas, then you should also compare the value in installing an efficient gas water heater, or gas-boosted solar water heater, due to the lower running costs of these systems.

What climate do you live in?
Heat pumps work more efficiently in warm, humid climates. If you happen to live in an area that where a heat pump could be subjected to freezing conditions, then it will not work as efficiently, as the internal electric element activates at low temperatures. If this is the case you should also consider an electric-boosted solar hot water system with frost protection or evacuated tube collectors.

Roof suitability:
If you have a roof with enough strength and the right material to hold solar panels, then you should consider going solar. Solar hot water systems will provide even greater energy savings over the long term.

If however your roof cannot support roof-mounted solar collectors or you don’t want to put collectors on your roof for aesthetic reasons, then the heat pump may be the best water heater for you. 

Will my Midea heat pump work in low temperatures?

Yes it will. Heat pumps can work in any weather or climate but they are most efficient at warm ambient temperatures and high humidity. The higher the temperature and humidity the more heat energy can be extracted from the air.

The Midea heat pump from Chromagen has 3 running modes to ensure you always get hot water; 1) ECO mode, 2) Hybrid mode and 3) E-heater mode.
  • ECO mode is the standard mode where the highest efficiency is achieved. The heat pump will run in this mode without the element, in warm ambient temperatures.
  • Hybrid mode automatically activates when the air temperature drops below 10°C. In this mode both the heat pump and electric element are working together.
  • When the air temperature drops to below 5°C, the heat pump will automatically run in E-heater mode, where the electric element is used solely to heat the water.



Eternity Continuous Flow FAQs

What is a ‘continuous flow’ gas water heater?

Continuous flow gas water heaters are tankless systems designed to provide hot water on-demand. They do not store any water, so water flowing through them is heated immediately and continuously until the water outlet is turned off.

The continuous flow gas water heater is triggered only when you turn on a tap. This ignites the gas burners, and water travels through a heat exchanger where it is heated. This provides efficient water heating because gas is only used when hot water is required. and is not used to maintain heat or for a pilot light.

How much hot water will I get from my Eternity gas water heater?

Continuous flow gas water heaters are quite different from electric storage water heaters because the hot water delivery is not based on the storage capacity of a tank. The size of the water heater is stated as litres per minute with a 25 degree increase in temperature, that is an Eternity 26 will supply 26 l/min at 25 degrees above the incoming water temperature. When combined with solar the temperature rise is often very small so the flow rate can be much higher through the unit

Hot water is provided continuously on-demand, so as long as there is a gas supply to the water heater, the supply of hot water is limitless.

Can an Eternity continuous flow gas water heater operate in cold climates?

Yes. As long as there is gas available to the heater and electric power to start it, then it can operate in low temperatures. Eternity also features frost protection by way of ingenious temperature sensing technology that allows small amounts of pre-heated water and gas to run through the unit to prevent it from freezing.

In a frost-prone environment it is necessary to properly insulate the water feed in pipelines to prevent them from freezing. A lower flow rate through the heater will usually be experienced in cold climates due to the lower incoming cold ground water temperatures.

Does a continuous flow gas water heater have a pilot light?

No. These systems do not require a pilot light because they use an electronic ignition to start. This avoids the need to constantly burn gas. The hot water system will also require a power point installed nearby to supply power for the fan and the internal electronics.

Is a Continuous flow water heater right for me?

When considering if a continuous flow water heater is right for you, you should think about the following important factors:

Access to gas:

If you have access to gas then you can install a continuous flow gas water heater.
If you don't have access to gas then you may need to install a hot water system that runs on electric power or features and electric boost.

Before you install a continuous flow gas water heater, you should compare the value of gas-boosted solar hot water system where the running costs are even lower, providing you with even greater savings over the long term.