Solahart Company History

Company History

[ Company Profile ] [ Corporate Statement ] [ Research & Development ] [ Hot Water For Life ]

Solahart Company Profile

The Solahart story begins way back in 1901 when two enterprising plumbers formed a company known as S W Hart & Co, Plumbers and Ironworkers, in Perth, Western Australia. The chief business at that time was manufacturing tanks, baths, troughs, and sinks for people of the pioneering West.

Perth prospered, and so did S W Hart, with a range of expertise, specialising in galvanising and sheet metal fabrication.

In 1953 the company became a corporation, and S W Hart & Co made a long-term commitment to supplying Australian and international markets with high quality specialist products such as solar hot water systems. In this year the company started manufacturing and marketing Solahart hot water systems. In Australia, Solahart quickly became a household name as the leading solar hot water system and industry recognition was quick to follow.

Originally, in 1953, S W Hart & Co manufactured storage cylinders for use with the West Australian- made F.C. Korwill solar collector. By comparison with today's low profile, streamlined system, the Korwill solar hot water system was less than elegant, but it worked, and worked well; in fact many are still working today.

The system operated on the "thermosiphon" principle, as do today's Solahart systems. Water passes through the solar collector panels, and after being heated by solar radiation the water rises to the insulated storage cylinder.

The system attracted a dedicated following, and regular sales were made through to the mid 1960's.

In 1964 the company designed, manufactured and installed two of the largest solar hot water systems in the southern hemisphere, installed in Australia's north-west, providing hot water for up to 140 people. So by the mid-1960's the company had made solar hot water an established and viable alternative for both domestic and commercial applications.

The Solahart 300L (80GE in the USA) established the Solahart product throughout the world, receiving acceptance in the United States, Middle Eastern countries, South East Asia and Europe. Solahart formed its own international sales and technical network and now exports to over 70 countries worldwide.

In 1979 Shell Australia acquired from the employees of S W Hart & Co a 50% shareholding and in 1984 the James Hardie Industry Group, one of Australia's largest companies acquired the remaining 50 per cent of S W Hart and Co from the employees.

James Hardie Industries Limited acquired the remainder of Shell's share in 1987, giving it 100% equity in Solahart. Shortly after this, the name S W Hart & Co was changed to Hardie Energy Products, reflecting the company's association with energy efficient products.

In October 1994 another chapter in Solahart's history was written when the business was acquired by Johan Holdings, a diversified manufacturing and investment group, the name changed to Solahart Industries Pty Ltd.

Johan Holdings began its activities in 1920 as Johan Tin Dredging Ltd. It was listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in 1973 and its tin mining activities ceased in 1979. Its name was later changed to Johan Holdings Berhad.

The Johan group is principally involved in;

  1. Manufacturing ceramic bathroom wall tiles, water meters and hot stamped products;

  2. Marketing and distributing industrial engineering equipment, health food and motor vehicles;

  3. Investment trading, management and secretarial services;

  4. Charge card operations, travel, resort and related businesses;

  5. Property development and investment.

Today Johan Holdings controls over 70 companies employing some 2000 staff. The Group operates in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Johan Holdings brings enormous experience, strength and capital to Solahart Industries Pty Ltd.

Corporate Statement

Solahart is the world's leading manufacturer of solar hot water systems for residential and commercial applications.

Using technology pioneered in Western Australia over 40 years ago, the company has grown from strength to strength and is currently the undisputed market leader in Australia and operates in over 70 countries around the world with a workforce of about 150 employees in Australia and around the world.

The Solahart manufacturing facility is located on eight acres of prime industrial land at Welshpool, Western Australia.

The site accommodates the factory, international and state sales offices, national warehouse and research and development facilities.

The manufacturing process involves the fabrication of metal products through a combination of stages including pressing, welding, shot blasting, enamelling, plating, testing and packaging.

The company has focused on passive or thermosiphon systems and in the 1960's pioneered the concept of the close-coupled system.

In the mid-1970's Solahart invested substantial capital in the plant associated with producing a mild steel, vitreous enamel lined tank for its solar water heater. The product which resulted, the 240L (and its successor, the 300L) provided the company with a major competitive advantage; the new product offered durability and material cost advantages over conventional copper, bronze, and stainless steel tank systems available at the time.

Traditionally solar water heaters suffer high failure rates in areas susceptible to freezing conditions or poor water quality. In the late 1970's Solahart commenced work on a revolutionary new closed-circuit, close-coupled, thermosiphon solar water heater, the 300LJ - a concept which was subsequently patented.

In 1980 Solahart made a decision to commercialise the 300LJ and embarked on the first of a series of major capital investment projects leading to the current 302J and 302K series models.

The 302K, 'Black Chrome Miracle' incorporates a range of innovative product features which combine to form one of the world's best performing most reliable and cost effective solar water heaters. Operation of this model is well-suited to the cold climates of Europe, North Asia and North America.

The 302J offers a more economical alternative to the 302K for use in warmer climates, incorporating the same closed-circuit technology as the 302K but utilising a black painted absorber surface.

Solahart also offers a range of conventional fin-and tube, open-circuit solar water heaters, the 302L series for applications where freezing and poor water quality are not an issue.

Solahart's manufacturing processes have been accredited to the ISO 9001/AS3901 Quality Assurance Standard since 1991 and to the Japanese Industrial Standard since 1985.

Quality assurance systems are integrated into the business and form an integral part of the process management systems.

Solahart has achieved market success by servicing clients that range from homeowners to major corporate and institutional clients. Some of the more unusual applications have included the installation of more than 1,300 Solahart units for a Queensland development, supplying solar hot water to the remote Exmouth military base in north Western Australia, and the provision of solar hot water to the Olympic athletes at the Korean Sports University.

Prospects for growth in the international solar water heating markets are strong. The combined effect of increases in wealth and living standards throughout North-East and South-East Asia and environmental protection policy initiatives in Europe and the United States can be expected to result in constantly improving market conditions.

Solahart is well placed to take advantage of these improving conditions.

Research and Development

Mastering solar energy in its many forms and supplying it to a world desperate for alternative energy sources, is the drive behind the Solahart story.

To be recognised as a leader in domestic solar hot water is a major achievement, but the company is well aware of the need to be an innovator in the field, and is constantly looking to refine and improve its products. This commitment to excellence and innovation has seen Solahart spend millions of dollars in sophisticated machinery and equipment.

The company has an energetic research and development group which monitors and tests its units under all weather conditions, all year round. It was responsible for the development of the revolutionary closed circuit system which has had such success in countries like Korea, where temperatures can soar to a high as 35 degrees Celsius plus and range down to a bitter minus 30 degrees. No other unit has been able to cope with such temperature ranges.

Depending on usage and location, solar energy can save up to 80% or more of the hot water costs of a family residence.

With world attention focused on problems associated with finite energy resources and environmental protection, there is an enormous interest from government, corporations and individuals wishing to take advantage of solar energy.

Solahart has, since 1978, appointed dealers and distributors in many countries and with systems installed in over 70 countries. Solahart provides support and training in the areas of both technical and marketing expertise for the global dealership network.

Solahart solar hot water systems are now a common sight in many countries throughout the world, including the United States, Korea, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

The company's vigorous overseas marketing activities have brought official government recognition with an Export Dedication Award and an Enterprise Award.

Solahart continues to make large inroads into the northern European and United States markets where environmental legislation and strong community feeling for sustainable development makes solar water heating the obvious choice.

By the year 2000 a significant proportion of the energy requirements of many countries

will be supplied by solar energy and Solahart will be a major contributor to this.

Hot Water For Life

With over 40 years experience in the design, manufacturing and marketing of solar energy equipment, Solahart has the extra experience which gives the company the technical edge over other hot water systems.

Using a Solahart hot water system, savings of up to 80% and more can be made on water heating bills. And it is not just money that you save. Using a Solahart system will help save the earth's precious environment as well, because Solahart systems use the greatest natural free source of heating known to man - the sun.

This makes solar heating a natural winner, because when you use a Solahart you cut down on pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, coke or coal, and don't contribute to the Greenhouse effect of the destruction of the earth's natural protective blanket, and ozone layer. Electricity if measured in kilowatt hours saved can mean a whole tonne less CO2 released into the air. The electricity saved by a family of four, using a Solahart solar hot water system, can reduce the amount of CO2 released into the air by more than 3 tonnes per year. Solahart provides a year round supply of piping hot water, most of it heated free by the sun.

Solahart has perfected a system of heat absorption, transfer and storage which is the best you can buy.

The high performance characteristics of Solahart's Multi-Flow Black Chrome mean that it can operate effectively in areas previously regarded as marginal for solar power. Solahart's exclusive heat transfer design incorporates the Multi-Flow, Black Chrome Collector with product features and characteristics not available with less sophisticated hot water systems. The entire closed circuit has sealed-in protection from freezing and from corrosion and clogging that otherwise occurs in conventional systems in hard water areas.

The 300 litre storage tank is doubled glazed with vitreous enamel and the system also incorporates a thermostatically controlled immersion heater element or gas burner which guarantees a hot water supply, even under the most adverse solar situations. The system can also be used to preheat existing hot water systems, is also available in 180 and 150 litre tank sizes.

In over 70 countries around the world hundreds of thousands of households have recognised the advantages of Solahart hot water systems, which help pay for themselves through the savings they achieve.

Combined with the energy cost savings, Solahart offers a comprehensive warranty on all its hot water systems, proving Solahart is the most advanced and reliable solar water heater available on the market.