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Solar Hot Water Panels

Solar water heating (solar thermal) captures heat from the sun and uses it to heat up water for use in the home. Panels on your roof absorb heat from the sun the water in the panels heats up this hot water is pumped through a coil in your cylinder which transfers the heat to the water in the cylinder.

Residential solar thermal installations can be subdivided into two kinds of systems: compact and pumped systems. Both typically include an auxiliary energy source (electric heating element or connection to a gas or fuel oil central heating system) that is activated when the water in the tank falls below a minimum temperature setting such as 50 °C. The combination of solar hot water heating and using the back-up heat from a wood stove chimney to heat water can enable a hot water system to work all year round in cooler climates without the supplemental heat requirement of a solar hot water system being met with fossil fuels or electricity.

Flat plate panels, c onsist of an absorber plate in an insulated metal box. The top of the box is glass or plastic, to let the sun’s energy through. The insulation minimises heat loss. Lots of thin tubes carry water through the absorber plate heating it up as it passes through.

Evacuated tube, c ollectors have glass tubes containing metal absorber tubes, through which water is pumped. Each tube is a vacuum which minimises heat loss.

Is solar thermal suitable for my home?

  • Optimum position of solar panels is facing due south a lthough they are effective facing anywhere between south east and south west.
  • Typically best performance is at an angle between 20 and 50 degrees from horizontal (most pitched roofs fall within this bracket).
  • Solar panels are compatible with most existing hot water systems.

The Energy Savings Trust says solar panels will ‘provide about a third of your hot water needs’.

To maximise benefit, a system should be capable of producing around 50 to 70 per cent of all water heating that is not associated with space heating.

Solar thermal is eligible for the renewable heat incentive.

To qualify you must use a MCS accredited installer and product.

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