The characteristics of horizontal mantle heat exchangers are investigated for application in thermosyphon solar water heaters. An experimental model of a horizontal mantle heat exchanger was used to evaluate the flow patterns in the annular passageways and the heat transfer into the inner tank. Flow visualisation was used to investigate the flow structure, and the heat transfer was measured for isothermal inner tank conditions. A numerical model of the flow and heat transfer in the annular passageway was developed and used to evaluate the heat flux distribution over the surface of the inner tank. The numerical results indicate that configurations of mantle heat exchangers used in current solar water heater applications degrade thermal stratification in the inner tank. The effects of inlet flow rate, temperature and connecting port location are quantified.