Plumbing trades

South Australian residential water heater installation requirements

In South Australia, there are requirements regarding the types of water heaters that can be installed into homes and the water efficiency of showers connected to the installed water heater.

These requirements only apply to the installation of new water heaters or the replacement of old water heaters. Under no circumstances do working water heaters need to be replaced.

In many situations, these requirements will require:

  • low greenhouse gas emission (low emission) water heaters to be installed, such as high-efficiency gas, solar or electric heat pump water heaters
  • the shower outlets connected to the installed water heater to have a water efficient showerhead or flow restrictor. 

These requirements are an important part of the Government of South Australia's efforts to improve the energy and water efficiency of homes and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Water heaters can only be installed by an appropriately licensed plumbing contractor or registered plumbing worker and they must provide the household and the Office of the Technical Regulator with a certificate of compliance for the installation within seven days of completing the work.

There are many types of water heaters. Some store heated water for use at a later time, whilst others heat water on demand. There is also a range of fuel sources that can heat water such as solar, gas, electricity and wood.

The requirements are designed to increase the use of low emission water heaters.

What type of heater can you install?

Building classifications

Class 1A: Single detached dwelling or two or more attached dwellings separated by a fire-resistant wall, including a maisonette, row house, townhouse, and single-storey flats or units.

Class 1B: Boarding/guest house or hostel not exceeding 300m2 with no more than 12 residents.

Class 2: Multi-storey building containing two or more sole-occupancy units, where each is a separate dwelling.

Low emission water heaters

When you are required to install a low-emission water heater you can install one of the following:

Type of water heaterRequirements

Solar – electric boosted


Electric heat pump

You can install a water heater that meets either of these zone requirements anywhere in the state:

220 litres or less rated hot water delivery:

220 litres and less than 400 litres rated hot water delivery:

  • 27 STCs or more for Zone 3
  • 26 STCs or more for Zone 4.

400 litres or more and less than 700 litres rated hot water delivery:

  • 38 STCs or more for Zone 3
  • 36 STCs or more for Zone 4.
Gas instantaneous or storage – bottled or mains

Must have an energy rating of at least 5 stars.


A gas water heater installed entirely within a fully enclosed roof space, room or attached garage of an established home must have an energy rating of 3 stars or more. This option is not available for water heaters installed as part of building work that requires development approval.

Solar – gas boostedEligible for 1 or more STC.
Solar – wood boostedAny water heater can be installed.
Wood combustionAny water heater can be installed.


To determine if an electric boosted solar or heat pump water heater meets the requirements, follow these three steps:

1. Find out how many STCs the water heater is eligible for in Zone 3 and 4

Find out the number of STCs for a particular brand and model by:

Note the number of STCs for Zone 3 and for Zone 4

2. Check the minimum number of STCs needed

Use this table to find out the minimum number of STCs a water heater needs in Zone 3 and in Zone 4 based on the tank volume.

3. Compare the STCs

Compare the water heater's STCs for Zone 3 and for Zone 4 with the minimum requirements. Only one of the two zone requirements needs to be met, ie either the Zone 3 or the Zone 4 requirement. The actual zone in which the water heater is installed doesn't matter.

Does a 300 litre electric heat pump water heater that is eligible for 26 STCs in Zone 3 and 26 STCs in Zone 4 meet the requirements in this table?

While the electric heat pump water heater does not meet the Zone 3 requirement, ie 27 STCs or more – it does meet the Zone 4 requirement (26 STCs or more) and can be installed anywhere in the state.

Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs)

Installing an eligible solar or electric heat pump water heater entitles you to STCs, which can be sold to registered agents or traded individually.

Each STC represents an amount of electricity displaced by your solar water heater or heat pump over the course of its lifetime of up to 10 years. One STC equals one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity displaced.

You can either:

  • receive a point of sale discount by assigning your STCs to the retailer or installer when you buy your water heater – this is the most common option.
  • register your STCs and sell them through the STC market or STC clearing house yourself.

The dollar value of the STC offered by retailers and installers varies day to day. If you choose to trade your STCs yourself through the STC clearing house the price is fixed at $40 per certificate.

For further information and to find out how many STCs you could receive see the Clean Energy Regulator's website

Installations excluded from the requirements

A water heater installation does not need to comply with the residential water heater requirements if it:

  • serves a non-residential premise, eg commercial premise, shop, school, office building
  • serves only a shed, garage or swimming pool
  • is a secondary electric storage water heater up to 55 litres that doesn't serve a shower or bath
  • is shared between multiple units, flats or apartments in a multi-storey apartment building
  • is an electric storage water heater up to 55 litres providing temporary water heating for up to 60 days, pending the installation of a complying water heater
  • is an electric or gas gravity fed water heater up to 250 litres rated hot water delivery located in a roof space
  • is replacing a single faulty component in an existing solar or heat pump water heater
  • is a repair to an existing water heater or is a replacement water heater under warranty.

Specific exemptions may be granted by the Technical Regulator, on a case by case basis, where extraordinary technical difficulties can be demonstrated.

Water flow rate requirements

When a new or replacement water heater is installed in a home, any shower outlets connected to the water heater must have a flow rate of nine litres per minute or less.

This can be achieved by installing water efficient shower heads or flow restrictors that have no less than a three-star rating under the water efficiency labelling and standards (WELS) scheme.

Gravity fed water heaters meet the water flow rate requirements and do not require a water efficient shower head or flow restrictor to be installed.

If you already have three star rated shower heads no change is needed.

Most new water heaters are compatible with water efficient shower heads, but if you are unsure check with the manufacturer.

If your water heater installation is exempt from the water heater requirements these water flow rate requirements do not apply.

For more ways to reduce your water use, see Water heaters – save hot water and save energy.

Details of the technical requirements

The new requirements are detailed in the South Australian Water Heater Installation Requirements issued as part of the Plumbing Standard published by the Technical Regulator pursuant to sections 66 and 67 of the Water Industry Act 2012. They replace the SA Water Direction dated 18 June 2009, which was issued under the Waterworks Act 1932.

Further assistance

If you are a householder and need help to determine what types of water heaters you can install in your home, contact the Energy Advisory Service.

Plumbers can contact the plumbers' water heater information line on 1300 883 019 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm) for assistance.

Related information


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    Page last updated 4 April 2017

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