All-electric House Design

Image of solar panel installation designed for the roof type and orientation
Solar Panel Installation designed for the roof type and orientation

Holistic Approach

For good all-electric house design, we recommend a holistic approach. Try to incorporate your solar panels into your roof design and orientation.

Your house should have high thermal performance (see below). 

Consider carefully your heating, cooling and water heating because this accounts for more than 60% of your total power demand.

Install energy efficient appliances and plan for them to operate during the day with your solar power, as far as possible.

Your Outdoor Equipment

Think through the placement of your outdoor equipment at the outset. Design a small flat roof section if you have insufficient space on the ground.

Whilst modern outdoor units are fairly quiet, they do emit some airborne noise and vibration. Think about the rooms below and your neighbors next door. With some thought, you can effectively resolve these potential issues.

Also, think about the air flow for your outdoor units. The outlet air needs to get away from the inlet side for optimal performance.

Hydrosol image of roof mounted outdoor units on vibration isolation platform

Optimal Approach

All-electric house design requires of a balance between the aesthetics of your design, thermal performance and your budget. Therefore, explore an optimal approach. Contact us to assist you with this.

If you have a pool or spa, this opens up other options for heating them. For example, it is possible to heat a small poll using your hydronic heat pump with an external heat exchanger.

Hot water heating is another important aspect of your all-electric house design. Locate your storage tank as close as possible to your hot water taps to reduce heat loss and water loss. Should you choose a solar system or heat pump water heater?

Thermal Performance

An all-electric house that is  well designed has higher thermal performance measured by a Star Rating. This means less heat load in winter and cooling load in summer. Therefore, your heating and cooling equipment can be smaller, costing less to purchase and less to operate.

Ensure your all-electric house has thermal performance of at least 6 Stars.

Passive houses with 10 Stars require no mechanical heating or cooling. However, this is very difficult and costly to achieve. For most people living in a southern Australian climate zone, 6 or 7 Stars will be sufficient.

Design Factors

Make your home energy efficient for your solar hydronic heating design to work well. Get an energy assessment (Star Rating) done early when designing your all-electric house. Seek advice on how to achieve the minimum 6 Star rating.

Here are some factors that will be considered in your energy assessment:

  • Location climate (whether your house is being designed mainly for heating or cooling)
  • House orientation to the sun and prevailing wind
  • Shading in winter and summer
  • The internal mass of your house
  • The amount and type of windows, frames and glazing
  • Insulation of ceilings, walls and floors
  • Thermal bridging
  • Air tightness
  • Ceiling fans

More Information

Here are some links for more information:

Apart from design factors that affect your Star Rating, consider also in your all-electric house design:

  • House size, type and number of levels
  • Your preferences around heating and cooling methods
  • Your family’s needs
  • Your budget

Resale Value

The resale value of your house is another important consideration. Look at your project as an investment. You will achieve a return on  your investment during its operating life and also upon sale.

Hydrosol cut-away image of Stiebel Eltron WPL25ACS 14kW hydronic heat pump
Stiebel Eltron WPL25ACS 14kW hydronic heat pump

Heat Pumps

Consider heat pumps for your all-electric house design because they are very energy efficient. Also, heat pumps can be powered by your solar panels.

You can use a heat pump for hydronic heating, which is the best form of heating because it is radiant. Consider heat pump hydronic heating if you live in a southern or inland Australian location with cool winters.

A hydronic heat pump can also cool in summer in reverse cycle, which a gas boiler can’t.

If you have a pool or spa, you can use a heat pump to heat that also (refer below).

Heat pumps are ideal to use with solar power because they typically deliver heating or cooling 4 or 5 times greater than their power input. Hydronic heat pumps can store heating and cooling in the building mass for release inside during the evening.

Solar Power

Solar power is an important part of your all-electric house design. The challenge is to match the power demand of your electrical appliances with the power supply from your solar panels, as far as possible. 

Add solar panels if your roof has good direct sunlight and you can orient solar panels to the north, west or east.

This will be cost effective for you particularly if you plan to stay in your home for more than 5 years.

With good house design and high thermal mass, you can run your heat pumps and air conditioners largely during the day using your solar power. This will give you very low operating costs.

Read more: Managing Your Solar Power

Hydrosol image of solar panel installation for solar power case study
Roof Top Solar Panel Installation
Hydrosol image of Stiebel Eltron heat recovery ventilation systems, centralised and de-centralised
Stiebel Eltron Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems

Heat Recovery Ventilation

Consider Energy or Heat Recovery Ventilation (ERV/HRV) for your all-electric house. New builds and renovations with thermal performance above 6 are well insulated and well sealed so they need good ventilation.

ERV ventilators transfer both dry (sensible) heat and humid (latent) heat from the stale outgoing air to the fresh incoming air. Therefore, ERV ventilators are ideal for the humid conditions of northern Australia.

On the other hand, HRV ventilators transfer dry heat only. Therefore, HRV ventilators are suited to the dryer conditions of southern Australia.

Consider adding ERV or HRV ventilation to reduce your heat load and to keep your house feeling fresh and airy without the need for opening windows as much.

Read more: Heat Recovery Ventilation BLOG

Air Conditioning

Consider adding air conditioning to your all-electric house design if your location is prone to a lot of extreme heat, humidity or if your home has multiple levels.

Whilst heat pumps are very good at heating and can cool in summer, air conditioners are designed for cooling and better at this. 

There are several types of air conditioning systems to consider. Explore which type is best for your design.

Read more: Best Air Conditioning Systems

linear air conditioning registers
Image of off-grid solar panel installation maximizing roof space and orientation
Solar panel installation maximizing roof space and orientation

Off-grid Homes

For off-grid homes, all-electric house design is critical. Therefore, consider carefully your options to improve thermal performance throughout the year. This will reduce your need for mechanical heating and cooling which typically accounts for more than 40% of your power demand. 

If you have plenty of wood available, then you may want to use that for heating. However, heat pumps can provide a reliable back up for wood heating. Set them to  standby and they will automatically add to the heating load as required.

Also, heat pumps can cool efficiently in reverse cycle in a dryer climate. Hydronic heat pump cooling works best with underfloor hydronic circuits and ceiling fans. If you have radiators, consider adding fan coil convectors to your hydronic system or install separate air conditioning.

Read More: Australian Off Grid Homes, 6 Examples

Pool and Spa Heating with a Heat Pump

Consider a heat pump for heating your pool or spa. They do not take up roof space that could otherwise be used for solar panels. Also, they can extract heat from the air even when it’s cold, raining or dark, so are ideal for heating during shoulder seasons to extend your swimming season.

Explore whether your hydronic heat pump may be suitable for heating your pool or spa. This will depend on:

  • Your climate
  • Size and depth of your pool
  • Desired water temperature
  • Use of a pool blanket
  • Pool use through winter

In general, if your pool is less than 30,000 litres, your hydronic heat pump may be suitable. If your pool is larger, then a dedicated pool heat pump will be more appropriate. Your hydronic heat pump will need a suitable heat exchanger to separate the corrosive pool water from your hydronic heat pump.

Read more: Astral Pool Heat Pumps

Image of Astral Pool heat pump for heating pools and spas
Astral Pool heat pump for heating pools and spas
Image of Elecro heat exchanger for heating pools and spas with a hydronic heat pump
Heat exchanger for heating pools and spas with a hydronic heat pump

Our Process

Solar HVAC Process Step 1 is to identify the issues and preferences for a cost effective all-electric heating and cooling system or systems.

Understanding your needs

We know that every client and project is different so we start by understanding your needs, priorities and vision for your build then propose a draft solution with indicative pricing.

Your Indicative Quote will be developed further with you, your architect and/or your builder into a Final Quote taking into account your preferences, budget, build requirements and timing also.

Solar HVAC Process step 2 is to design a cost effective all-electric heating and cooling system or systems based upon the information from the identifcation step 1.

Design

Once we reach agreement on the Final Quote and project plan, we will undertake the detailed design work looking at equipment siting, underfloor circuit or radiator layout, ventilation and air conditioning design, etc.

If you are installing solar power, we will work with your or our solar contractor to incorporate this as part of the whole solution.

Solar HVAC Process Step 3 is to select, order and deliver the products for the design created in Step 2.

Products

We work with the best products in the industry and we have a lot of experience with heat pump technology.

We want you to be very happy with your system so we only use quality equipment with proven reliability, local Australian support and good product warranties. 

Solar HVAC Process Step 4 is to install the products ordered and delivered in Step 3.

Installation

We work with the best and most experienced installers. The installation process starts at the beginning of the build with project planning and design work, followed by the rough-in of plumbing pipes and electrical cables.

Towards the end of the build, we return to deliver, install and connect equipment.

Solar HVAC Process Step 5 is to commission the all-electric heating and cooling system or systems.

Commissioning

Once everything has been installed, we commission your system/s and connect your them to your home WIFI.

The main equipment is WIFI enabled, giving you control and monitoring through your electronic devices.

Solar HVAC Process Step 6 is to finalise the project and establish a maintenance plan going forward.

After Sales Support

We recognise that you have made a significant investment in heating, cooling, ventilation and/or water heating and that you want your system/s to function optimally for many years.

Our equipment suppliers are all leading companies with service desks and will be happy to deal with any warranty issues.

Our installers have service plans to ensure optimal performance of your system/s. We will be happy to discuss a service plan tailored to your specific needs.

Our Partners & Affiliations