Solar Thermal (Solar Water Heating)

solar trade association uk mapSolar Thermal water heating systems are effective in the UK. They do not require direct sunlight to work, diffused solar radiation is sufficient to help heat your water.  They work in Summer, Autumn, Spring and on clear Winter days.

Solar panel collectors on your roof or wall use the sun’s radiation to heat water and then the water is stored in a highly insulated hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used to heat the water further to reach the temperature you want.

By tilting a surface to an angle (of 30-60 degrees) the amount of solar energy collected is significantly increased so a typical UK house roof facing broadly south is an ideal place to fit the solar panels.

Solar thermal water heating systems are a well proven technology and have been around for many years in the UK.

An independent survey of domestic hot water solar systems installed in the UK between 1970 and 1994 was recently undertaken on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry. The key points arising from this survey are:

  • Solar heating systems can meet around half the users’ annual household hot water needs
  • On average, solar heating systems provide 20 years or more of useful service
  • The systems are generally considered to be very reliable
  • The majority of users say they are “very satisfied” with their systems 

The benefits of solar thermal water heating

The system works all year round although you’ll need to heat the water with a boiler or immersion heater more during the winter months.

Reduced fuel bills, sunlight is free so your hot water heating fuel costs will be reduced. Savings are moderate – a Solar Thermal System could provide most of your hot water in the summer, but much less during colder weather.

Cut your carbon footprint: solar hot water is a green, renewable heating system and can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.

Solar water heating systems can achieve savings on your energy bills. Based on the results of recent field trial, typical savings from a well-installed and properly used system are £55 per year when replacing gas heating and £80 per year when replacing electric immersion heating; however, savings will vary from user to user. Source Energy saving Trust

How does solar thermal water heating work?

Solar panels are mounted on south (east to west through south) facing roofs or walls to take advantage of the maximum daylight hours to catch the most energy.

Liquid inside the solar thermal panels absorbs the suns radiation and heats up. The warm water is then pumped to the hot water cylinder through pipework. Your boiler or emersion heater then heats the water further as necessary until the water reaches the thermostat temperature.

Is solar water heating right for your home?

Do you have a sunny place to put solar panels?

You’ll need around five square metres of roof or wall space which faces east to west through south and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day.

Do you have space for a larger, or an extra, hot water cylinder?

If a dedicated solar cylinder is not already installed then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil. The existing cylinder will likely be changed to a dual coil cylinder.

Is your current boiler compatible with solar water heating?

Most conventional boiler and hot water cylinder systems are compatible with solar water heating. But if your boiler is a combination boiler (combi) and you don’t currently have a hot water tank, a solar hot water system may not be compatible.

If you want an accredited solar thermal installer to assess your home and help you choose the best setup to meet your needs call Steven Banks on 01462 636376

What size solar thermal panels do I need?

Each solar thermal system must be designed and sized to precise specification to ensure you get the most effective hot water system. The solar thermal systems we install are accredited to the leading UK and EU standards, including EN12975, Clear Skies UK, German Keymark and others.

We will design the most effective solar thermal system for your home. The solar panels required depend on the size of the house and the hot water usage, but a typical semi-detached house would require 2 panels of 2m2 each and a 200 litre cylinder.

How long does it take to install a solar hot water system?

Installing a solar water heating system is carried out by qualified engineers and normally lasts between one to two days. Disturbance is kept to a minimum with a large part of the work done on the roof and inside the loft. Hot water is normally resumed within a few hours.

  • Day 1: The first  day we would normally install the solar thermal panels on your roof, replace your hot water cylinder and restore your hot water supply.
  • Day 2: On the second day, the system is fully installed and commissioned.

What maintenance is required for Solar Thermal Systems

The system as a whole requires virtually no maintenance. Visual inspection to ensure pressure is stable and that there are no leaks is all that is required.

The only active maintenance required is to change the anti-freeze liquid every 5 years, as it is losing its effectiveness over such period.

If you want an accredited solar thermal installer to assess your home and help you choose the best setup to meet your needs call Steven Banks on 01462 636376