Solar vs Heat Pump Water Heaters

Solar water heaters and heat pump water heaters are two types of renewable energy water heaters available for residential use in Singapore. They are both proven technologies that have been widely used for over 30 years. They are also storage tank systems, which mean they can provide good water pressure for large households. Below is a quick summary of our overall review for both systems:

1. Initial cost

Solar heaters are sized larger than heat pumps because they have a lower rate of hot water recovery. The slower the recovery, the larger the tank size should be. Because of their larger tank size, solar heaters have a higher initial cost.

  • 60 lit heat pump – $2800+ ROI 4 years
  • 150 lit solar – $5500+ ROI 8 years

The lower ROI for heat pumps also makes it more popular in Singapore.

2. Efficiency

Heat pumps and solar heaters use renewable energy by absorbing free air heat or sunlight. In recent years, heat pumps are fast growing in popularity because of their high efficiency levels. Many hotels, country clubs and residences in Singapore are using heat pump water heaters over solar heaters because heat pumps can operate at an efficiency of 80%.

Singapore’s tropical climate, cloudy skies and frequent rainy days cause solar water heaters to draw against their 3000 watt backup heating elements often, transforming them into high power consuming water heaters.

3. Ease of Installation

Solar heaters should be installed on the roof of a building, preferably on a south-facing wall. The roof of the house should be tall enough without obstruction from sunlight. Panels and tanks require assembly and installation time is estimated around 6 hours.

Heat pumps may be placed indoors or outdoors, in a well ventilated area. They are plug and play units and installation time is approximately 3 hours.

4. Maintenance

Solar panels need to be professionally cleaned every 6 months or accumulated dust and debris will affect its efficiency. Heat pumps on the other hand are similar to electric water heaters and no additional service is required.


Heat pumps and solar heaters are both great renewable energy water heaters but they don’t perform the same way in different environments. In temperate climates like Europe and America solar heaters can be quite popular, but in tropical climates where there is an abundant supply of heat all year round such as Singapore, heat pumps are the preferred choice.

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Amanda is an education specialist at AOS Bath. She enjoys building a trusted network by sharing knowledge. Making difficult concepts simple and engaging is rewarding, on both ends.