Solar thermal systems utilise the immense amount of energy that the sun radiates to our homes and feature solar collectors that absorb the sun’s radiation as heat to feed into our homes without the need for using traditional energy methods. Solar thermal systems are used for heating hot water inside your property but can be equally efficient at heating outdoor spaces, such as swimming pools, and are a cost-effective way to maintain comfortable water temperatures.
Are Solar Thermal Panels Suitable for You?
The purchase of a solar thermal system is a significant investment at first and therefore it is important to have in mind:
- Do you have a spot that catches a lot of sun?
- Do you have enough space for a hot-water cylinder?
- Do you have a boiler or heat source compatible with solar water heating?
With the sun being the main energy source it is important that the position of any solar thermal panels is optimal to catch the most direct sunlight for the longest possible time; this could be on a roof space facing east to west or through south. It should be noted that alternative placement is possible but efficiency and system performance will be decreased.
As solar thermal systems require a dedicated compatible hot-water cylinder, if you do not already own a solar cylinder then any existing cylinder will need replacing for a dedicated cylinder with solar heating coil.
Most conventional boilers are compatible with solar water heating systems however certain adjustments may need to be made to water flow if a combination boiler without a hot-water tank is installed.
An average solar thermal system in the UK covers around 40 – 60% of total hot-water consumption of a household throughout the year (e.g. showers and hot-taps etc) but the specific amount of hot-water produced is dependant upon the time of year:
- Summer – the system can produce most or all of the hot-water demand
- Spring / Autumn – consider pre-heating the water in your cylinder to reduce the amount of solar energy required
- Winter – weaker sunlight and shorter days will significantly impact the contribution of your system
Once the system has heated the water it is stored in a separate tank until needed and if additional heat is needed, then your regular heating system will jump in.
What Type of System is Best?
Flat Plate Panels:
- Looks similar to a solar PV panel and includes a sheet of glass or glazing covering an absorber panel attached to multiple copper pipes
Evacuated Tube Collectors:
- Heat pipe surrounded by a glass tube under a vacuum
Evacuated tube collectors are more efficient in cold climates but can lose efficiency in warmer seasons due to the risk of overheating whereas flat plate panels tend to lose heat and therefore can be more effective in direct sunlight.
- Renewable energy source, there will always be access to solar energy
- Will save you money through a reduction of bills in the long-run
- Help to reduce your carbon footprint
- Requires little maintenance other than planned cleaning and servicing
- High initial investment
- Weather dependant
- Requires suitable space inside and outside
- Limited usage, the system can only generate hot-water
At Huttie our MCS accredited engineers and experienced project managers can work with you to design and install a bespoke solar thermal system for your home suitable for all your property’s hot water requirements. In the summer months solar thermal systems can provide your home with completely free hot water whilst in the winter months you could still achieve an efficient return.
Whether you are in the process of developing a new-build property, or you are renovating your existing home, solar thermal technology can be easily integrated and maintained with your existing heating system.