News

The Changing World of Heat Pumps

Heat pump technology has come a long way over the last couple of years and with brands like Siddons and Sanden making incredibly efficient and quieter models we are seeing the landscape for water heated by renewable electricity change dramatically. With the pitiful feed-in tariffs available from governments and electricity providers, using your excess solar electricity to heat your hot water rather than feeding it into the grid makes perfect sense. And with heat pumps drawing less than a kilowatt even the smallest solar electricity system can be used to provide almost 100% free hot water all year round. Contact us for our free consultation visit and to see if your house qualifies for generous government rebates.

The Solar Flow Team

 

Complete Home Energy Solutions

Product Testing

Solar Flow has now been providing complete home energy solutions to our customers for over 8 years. Our in-house expertise means that you don’t have to deal with multiple companies or tradies when it comes to the best advice on what is required for your property. We draw on a large range of product options across a range of different energy systems for the home. And the best thing about our complete service offering is that is free. We’d love to offer a money back guarantee but you can’t when you don’t charge for a service!!!

5KW system in Toolangi

5KW system in Toolangi

 

February Water Tank Summer Special

Solar Flow are pleased to announce that any steel rain water tank orders placed in February will be eligible to receive a free Davey SJ-35 pressure pump (RRP $385), a corrugated steel garden bed – 600mm (width) x 1800 mm (long) x 500mm (tall) or 50% off any Davey Rainbank Pump – ideal for connection to toilets or laundry.

All you have to do is order a steel round or slimline tank with us before the 28th February and we will do the rest!

Regards,

The Solar Flow Team

Rain Water Tank Update

It looks like another dry summer is on its way (after a relatively wet spring) and we thought it was time we gave you an update on what has been happening at Solar Flow over the winter and spring months!

Solar Flow is proud to announce our total installed capacity of rain water tanks in Melbourne has reached the half-million litre amount! This represent a combination of steel slimline water tanks, steel round tanks, plastic water tanks, bladder systems and in-ground tanks. This is a huge achievement in just over twelve months of operation and we would like to thank our dedicated team of installers and plumbers for all their help during that time. And anyone else who has been there during the journey!

Solar Flow would also like to announce the strengthening of our relationship with our rain water tank supplier: Tankworks. The team at Tankworks supply us with the smart looking slimline water tanks and round water tanks that you see littering our ‘recent projects’ page. Solar Flow prefers to use the Tankworks tanks because of their great looking design and their full range of sizes to suit any job.

After the recent solar energy rebate cancellation the solar hot water industry suffered a serious downturn on the back of the cancellation. But once all the dust had settled people realised that the rebate for solar hot water systems in Melbourne were still available. Since then we have seen a significant increase in queries and installations for solar hot water with both evacuated tubes and close coupled systems being the system of choice. We think this trend will continue on the back of a strengthening RECs price and increases in the cost of gas and electricity prices.

All the best for the festive season from the Solar Flow Team

Untreated tank water ‘safe to drink’

Reuters
November 05, 2009 12:02AM

DRINKING untreated rainwater is safe for your health, according to an Australian study.

Researchers from Melbourne’s Monash University looked at 300 homes that used rainwater collected in water tanks as their primary drinking source in what they described as a “world first” study that comes amid growing criticism of bottled water.

All of the homes were given a benchtop filter and told it would remove any potential gastroenteritis-causing organisms from their water, but half of the devices did not contain filters.

Families recorded their health over a year and the researchers found that the rate of gastro cases recorded by these two groups were very similar and also matched the broader community who drank treated tap water.

“People who drank untreated rainwater displayed no measurable increase in illness compared to those that consumed the filtered rainwater,” researcher Karin Leder, head of the infectious diseases unit at Monash University’s department of epidemiology, said in a statement.

“This study confirms there is a low risk of illness … Expanded use of rainwater for many household purposes can be considered and in current times of drought, we want to encourage people to use rainwater as a resource.”

Leder said some health authorities had doubts about drinking rainwater due to safety concerns, particularly in cities where good quality mainstream water was available.

Australia’s prolonged drought has prompted a rise in water tank installations.

But Leder did caution that the families involved in the study were routine rainwater drinkers and may already have built up defences against possible infections.

The study came amid growing concern about the environmental impact of bottled water products, which are often transported long distances and packaged in plastic which clogs landfills.

Spring rains nurture hope

The Age

PETER KER
October 26, 2009

THE reservoirs are swelling, and Melburnians could be forgiven for feeling dam(n) confused.

Just when we had got used to the notion of drought, strong spring rains have put the word ”deluge” back into the lexicon.

As excitement about dam spills and river flushes fades, what is the state of our drinking supplies, and has our rainfall gone back to its old ways?
The Upper Yarra Reservoir looks healthy.

The Upper Yarra Reservoir looks healthy. Photo: Craig Abraham

There’s a simple joy in watching a dam spill, but the recent scenes at O’Shannassy and Maroondah dams should be regarded as little more than that.

Both are small reservoirs that fill quickly because of their highly productive catchments. O’Shannassy could fit into Melbourne’s major reservoir, the Thomson, 356 times.

The Thomson is only 20 per cent full, and that figure is boosted artificially by environmental flows being withheld from the river behind the dam wall.

Not all the city’s bigger dams are struggling; Upper Yarra Reservoir, a crucial part of the network, is more than 87 per cent full. But there’s little point worrying about anything other than the overall result.

Melbourne’s dams were 37.3 per cent full yesterday and, using crude mathematics, holding enough water to supply the city for about 675 days.

That tally will almost certainly secure supplies until the major water projects start feeding Sugarloaf and Cardinia reservoirs, but historically it’s a poor state of affairs.

This brings us to the rainfall. September’s was above average, but every other month’s has been below and 2009 could yet be the driest year recorded at the Melbourne gauge.

The city gauge has received about 296 millilitres so far this year, less than the 332.3 millilitres recorded in 1967, the driest so far in 154 years of records.

With 10 weeks left in the year, most gurus think Melbourne will climb above that record low. But it’s no certainty.

Rain gauges in towns close to catchments (such as Noojee and Coldstream) are also below average for the year.

The flooding rivers and spilling dams of September seem likely to be the exception rather than the rule. Damn it.

Early heat puts pressure on water

Early heat puts pressure on water

The Age
BRIDIE SMITH
November 9, 2009

MELBOURNE’S water storage is set to fall for the first time in four months this week, as a record string of hot November days coincides with reduced run-off and a lack of spring rain.

While catchments were still benefiting from last month’s falls, water flowing into reservoirs has gradually decreased.

This week’s warm temperatures and absence of rain will probably result in levels going backwards for the first time since July 1.
The heat brought the crowds out yesterday, with friends Bailey Reed (left), Jaylem Mure and Austin Whittaker making the most of the sunshine at Beaumaris Beach.

The heat brought the crowds out yesterday, with friends Bailey Reed (left), Jaylem Mure and Austin Whittaker making the most of the sunshine at Beaumaris Beach. Photo: Penny Stephens

”They will go down this week,” Melbourne Water spokesman Nicolas McGay said yesterday.

The last time storage decreased, supplies were at 26 per cent. Storage is now 38.1 per cent full, compared with 33.7 per cent this time last year.

Melbourne is in the middle of a four-day stint of 30-plus degree days – the first of the bushfire season and the most recorded for November in more than a century.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Scott Williams said the sustained warm spell was unusual for spring.

”We’ve got into more of a summer pattern,” he said. ”In November it’s not common to get long runs of 30-plus days. Four in a row is the most we’ve ever had – apart from 1896, when we had six days above 30 degrees.”

However, Mr Williams said the weather pattern did not offer any clues as to what summer might bring.

Melbourne temperatures this week will hover in the 30s to high 20s, with cooler temperatures around coastal areas, while northern parts of the state will remain in the mid-30s throughout the week.

Mr Williams said the last string of 30-plus degree days ended on February 1 and followed six days of heat – three of them in the 40s.

Meanwhile, two bushfires continued burning overnight: one in state forest two kilometres west of Mallacoota, which has burnt 530 hectares, and the other a 300 hectare blaze in national park land near Orbost.

A Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman said the fires had closed some roads and campsites.

Authorities will be on alert ahead of today’s forecast of 34 degrees, although it will be cooler on the coast and neither fire posed a threat to property. Mr Williams said humidity levels would remain good for fire-fighting, with only moderate winds forecast.

While Victoria was enduring heat and fire, those affected by weekend flooding in the NSW mid-north coast areas of Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Kempsey and Nambucca Heads have been given emergency grants and loans from the Federal Government.

Water tank filling season begins

Melbourne Water has announced that Melbourne’s catchments have entereed their wettest months which is also great news for people who own water tanks in Melbourne.

FILLING SEASON THE KEY AFTER DISAPPOINTING AUTUMN

  • Rainfall 21% below average; streamflows 42% below average
  • Storages down by 82 billion litres
  • T155 met 12 weeks in a row

Melbourne’s water storages have entered their wettest months at 26.3% after an autumn marked by low streamflows but a near-perfect record of achieving Target 155.

Storages started autumn at 30.8% and finished at 26.3%, a drop of 4.5% of total capacity (82.1 billion litres).

Most of the 177 mm of autumn rain fell during March and April, meaning the catchments began to dry out again in May. Without the follow-up rain, streamflows were limited to just 42% of the long-term average.

Melbourne Water’s Manager of Water Supply Operations, John Woodland, said the gap between rainfall and streamflows showed the long-lasting effects of a dry summer on the catchments.

“March and April were promising in terms of wetting the catchments, but the subsequent rain needed to generate runoff didn’t come in May and we’re now entering winter with storages at their lowest levels since the Thomson started to fill in 1984,” said Mr Woodland.

“Our storages are approaching a natural low-point in their annual cycle and we typically expect to see them rebound in winter and spring.”

Mr Woodland said it was important that Melburnians kept saving water ahead of the major water projects coming on line.

“Our reservoirs are holding 466 billion litres, which is a significant amount of water ahead of the major projects coming on line. But it’s important we protect that buffer by sustaining the water-saving efforts we achieved in autumn.”

The finishing touches are being made at Tarago Reservoir before it’s reconnected to Melbourne’s water supply mid-year, and the Sugarloaf Pipeline is progressing well.

As a further contingency against low inflows in winter and spring, Melbourne Water and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority are investigating the possibility of temporarily suspending some environmental flows from the Yarra and Thomson rivers to boost supplies.

Industry spokesperson for Target 155 and Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water, Tony Kelly, said Melburnians achieved the target for all but the first week of autumn, and as outdoor water use dropped in winter, the focus should be on reducing indoor consumption.

“Under Target 155 and Stage 3a restrictions, Melburnians have used less water this autumn than during the same time last year under Stage 3a alone.

“In fact, in May the average water use was just 138 litres, the lowest monthly average since the T155 campaign came into effect in December last year.

“Since Target 155 was introduced in December last year Melburnians have saved eight billion litres of water compared with the same time the previous year. Eight billion litres is enough water to supply over 49,000 homes for an entire year.

“This shows that Target 155 is really working, with households cutting back on their water use inside the home and around the garden. With cooler and wetter weather ahead, it’s inside the home where we can make the most savings.

“Together with four-minute showers, exchanging your showerhead for a water efficient model is one of the easiest things you can do to help stay below Target 155.”

Solar Flow offers AquaClad water tank installations

Solar Flow is excited to announce the availability of a new water storage product by Waterplex called AquaClad. AquaClad is the latest in innovative design for rainwater storage from Waterplex.

AquaClad is a revolutionary flat-pack modular slimline metal rainwater tank developed to allow the storage of rainwater in sites where access precludes, or makes difficult, the installation of a traditional slimline metal or plastic tank.

You may also choose AquaClad simply because you like the look of it, the colours available or the fact that you can achieve any finish you want on it by adding our unique cladding brackets and then your choice of finish.

AquaClad can be used to store water anywhere but the delivery of the tank is made easy by the fact that it is delivered flat-packed and easily assembled on-site so you don’t need the access required for a traditional tank.

Please contact Solar Flow to find out how AquaClad may be the solution you have been looking for.

Victorian Government Announces Solar Feed-in Tariff Scheme

Victorian households with solar power systems will be paid a premium rate for excess electricity that they feed into the state grid under a new scheme announced by the Brumby Government.

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the new Feed-in Tariff Scheme was aimed at increasing the number of private households in Victoria generating renewable energy.

“Through the new premium Feed-in Tariff Scheme, households will be paid 60 cents for every unused kilowatt hour of power fed back into the state electricity grid, which is almost four times the current retail price for electricity and the highest feed-in tariff offered in Australia,” Mr Batchelor said.

“The system will encourage more households to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and encourage solar-powered households to be energy efficient and maximise the amount of power fed into the state’s electricity grid for other customers to use.”

Mr Batchelor said the premium feed-in tariff scheme would be introduced in 2009 and would run for 15 years.

The scheme would apply to all household systems of up to two kilowatts capacity and have a cap of 100MW of generating capacity.

“Currently less than 3000 Victorian households have solar panel systems installed and about half of those are connected to the state’s electricity grid,” Mr Batchelor said.

“This premium tariff means that the average Victorian household taking up the Federal Government’s solar panel rebate could pay off the cost of installation in less than 10 years.

“This new scheme delivers on a 2006 election promise and will ensure Victoria continues to lead Australia on renewable energy initiatives.”

Mr Peter Batchelor said the new scheme would be administered by the electricity distributors to keep costs down and to ensure that it did not interfere with retail competition.

“This scheme is part of a strategic approach by the Brumby Government to provide affordable, sustainable energy for Victoria’s future,” Mr Batchelor said.

“The premium net feed-in tariff scheme, coupled with the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme, which will be introduced from January next year, will empower Victorian households to take action on climate change.

Latest News

Heat pump technology has come a long way over the last couple of years and with brands like Siddons and Sanden making incredibly efficient and quieter models we are seeing the landscape for water heated by renewable electricity change dramatically. With the pitiful feed-in tariffs available from governments and electricity providers, using your excess solar electricity to heat your hot water rather than feeding it into the grid makes perfect sense. And with heat pumps drawing less than a kilowatt even the smallest solar electricity system can be used to provide almost 100% free hot water all year round. Contact us for our free consultation visit and to see if your house qualifies for generous government rebates.

The Solar Flow Team