As solar hot water in Australia begins to pick up in popularity, companies such as Apricus are at the forefront of a growing energy trend. Indeed, modern day evacuated tube solar panels can now retain up to 95 per cent of the sun’s energy, providing a more efficient service than ever before.

Where did this green technology come from, however? Let’s take a look at its history to answer the question.

The early days: 1700s

Arguably the first instance of utilising the greenhouse effect to heat water came from a Swiss naturalist in 1767. Horace-Benedict de Saussure noticed that the sun seemed to heat temperatures up far more if it passed through a glass material than if it didn’t, and so constructed what is now considered one of the earliest solar hot water devices. It consisted of a rectangular box made of pine, with a blackened surface at the bottom and three panes of glass at the top. When placed under the sun, temperatures inside the box rose dramatically.

“Someday some usefulness might be drawn from this device for it is actually quite small, inexpensive and easy to make,” he stated.

Solar hot water’s first patent

The next major milestone in domestic hot water systems came from the US in the late 1800s.

In 1891, Clarence Kemp of Pasadena, California patented the world’s first home solar hot water device. It was a box not dissimilar to Mr Saussure’s early invention, where the sun would heat up a small box – though this time filled with water. Residents who purchased the device could draw the water for their washing up or to bathe in. According to the California Solar Center, ‘The Climax’, as it was called, was marketed towards “gentlemen” whose wives had gone away on holiday, leaving them to do the household chores. Solar hot water was supposed to reduce the need to heat water with regular fuel.

It proved very popular. By 1900, around 1,600 units had been installed across the southern areas of the state, with around one-third of all households having one in Pasadena itself.

Early Australian versions

Here in Australia, the first versions of this technology came from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). In 1941, it was reported in a July bulletin that one of the organisation’s employees had a device installed on his home that was estimated to be able to provide 300 days worth of hot water, and could collect up to 151 litres of water.

CSIRO remained a prominent research organisation to the then-fledgling industry, producing numerous reports that helped grow the popularity of solar hot water, planting the foundations for what we see today.

Learn more about Apricus Solar Hot Water Systems or contact us to discuss your needs or organise a solar hot water system quote.