Solar Energy - Solar Thermal

Solar thermal systems capture the sun’s energy and use it to heat water. The systems include a solar panel collector, a hot water tank or cylinder, a pump, all pipework and insulation, and controls, and they work alongside your conventional water heater to provide hot water in your property. They can provide almost all of your hot water requirements during the summer months, and approximately 50-60% of your total hot water requirements all year round.

The solar panel collectors are normally roof-mounted (flat roof or pitched roof) on metal frames, and connected to a circuit of pipework containing a fluid mixture. Heat from the sun’s energy is then transferred to the fluid mixture within the panel collector, flows around the circuit of pipework by way of a pump and into the storage cylinder where the heat is then transferred into the water in the tank. The system forms a continuous loop that brings heat to the cylinder and returns cold fluid to the panel collector for re-heating by the sun.

The controls compare the temperature of the water in the tank with that produced in the panel, and turns on the pump when the water produced by the panel is warmer than the water in the tank.

The solar panel collectors themselves are either flat plate panels or evacuated tube collectors; flat plate panels have the appearance of a Velux window and typically have an efficiency of approximately 30%. Evacuated tube collectors comprise a series of tubes connected into a manifold, are smaller than their flat plate counterparts and are approximately 50% efficient. Is my property suitable?

The South West of England enjoys the highest levels of solar energy (also known as radiant energy or radiation) in the UK. If you are resident in this region, you are ideally located therefore, to receive the full benefits a solar thermal system can offer.

A solar thermal system can be installed on any building with a structurally sound roof that faces within 90 degrees of south in each direction (i.e. between east and west), however south-facing is the ideal. The panel collectors should be tilted ideally between 30-40 degrees, and should be free from any shading issues. Shadowing from nearby buildings or large trees will cause losses of performance for the panel collectors.

There will also be space required for the locating of an additional storage tank or cylinder, which will then be incorporated into the existing water heating system. Please note, some existing combi boilers are not suitable to be incorporated into a solar thermal system.

Solar Thermal

  • POTENTIALLY, earn a tax-free, index-linked income for the next 18 years (see Renewable Heat Incentives page),
  • Reduce your energy bills,
  • A relatively clean energy source, i.e. reduced CO2 emissions thus helping you reduce your carbon footprint and the effects of global warming,
  • Improve your property’s energy efficiency rating,
  • Increase the value of your property,
  • Increases your awareness of energy use and encourages more energy efficient behaviour,
  • Low maintenance,
  • Long lifetime (25 years or more),
  • Combined with an electricity-producing renewable technology, a solar PV system or wind turbine for example, this can become a complete renewable energy heating system,