Skip to content

Rheem says strongly opposes “inequitable” changes to solar hot water rules

RenewEconomy, 2 May 2016
Rheem Australia – the owner of the country’s biggest installer of solar hot water equipment, Solarhart – says it “strongly opposes” the change in standards that will require all future installations to be facing north, rather than east or west as is often the practice.

The release of the standard has taken much of the industry by surprise, even though it was apparently a long time in the making. What is even more surprising to the industry is that the standard has already been adopted as part of the building code.

Rheem’s head of corporate affairs Gareth Jennings rejected suggestions in the industry that his company had somehow been behind the changes to the standard. In fact, he said, Rheem had been the only company to oppose the standard, which he said made no sense.

“From the time that this recommendation was made, we have opposed it,” Jennings said in an interview with RenewEconomy.

“We don’t think it is workable, and we don’t think it is equitable,” he said of the changes, which as RenewEconomy reported on Friday, require all new solar hot water systems to be orientated within 45° of true north.

The industry has suggested that this could devastate the market, as it will eliminate possibly one-third of all potential customers, and could make plumbers decide that the solar hot water industry is just “too hard.”

Jennings says there were a couple of “outs” in the new legislation, including the ability to follow manufacturing guidelines rather than the standard. But he said he understood that this option had been ruled out in New South Wales and Queensland.

Another option was to “prove” that non-conforming systems – i.e. those that faced east or west, were as efficient as north facing. But this would take time and money (for a fee).

“We are very concerned about the unintended consequences of this change,” Jennings said. “We think it is unlikely that all installers would be aware of the change, and it is quite possible that installations will take place that don’t comply.”

Jennings said his company was also stunned by the speed with which changed standards, released in December, had been adopted into the building code (in February). He said the “undue haste” was virtually unheard of in the building industry.

The changes have left the industry scratching their heads. No one can understand, and it seems that no one can explain, exactly why the north facing standard has been introduced. And no one can understand why it has all happened so quickly.

Rheem says strongly opposes “inequitable” changes to solar hot water rules