Installing solar heating panels is like converting a car into a hybrid running on LPG. After the initial investment, your home will operate efficiently and cheaply while extending the life of your boiler.
From March to October your boiler won't need to be switched on while in winter, this technology will reduce its operating time.
Solar pioneers have been reducing their energy demands with this technology for decades.
The science bit.
Solar panels heat up due to the sun's short-wave radiation output converting to long-wave radiation on impact.
Flat-plate solar panels. Size: 2206 mm x 1205 mm x 80 mm. Weight: 55 kg. Temperature: 40-80° Celcius (104-176° Fahrenheit). Standard pressure: 3 bar.
"The market for solar heating panels in the UK has grown each year. There are an estimated 220,000 homes with solar heating panels in the UK currently."
Most homes are suitable, if you have an S/SE/SW or east/west facing roof space, then probably. Your internal plumbing setup will need to be checked for compatibility, but this can be done at the quotation stage.
Combi boilers are possible, but please bear in mind that we will need to re-install a hot water tank. Most homes with Combi's will not have the space to install a domestic sized hot water tank. If you're able to re-install a hot water tank, then yes an installation may be possible.
South is the optimum and southeast and southwest are acceptable.
Why will I need to update my hot water cylinder?
Old copper hot water tanks run exceptionally efficiently when new, but after many years of use, limescale will reduce the efficiency by a significant percentage. When installing, we will also fit a modern super-efficient tank, to get the most out of your system.
"Adding this technology to an old tank would be like converting your car to LPG gas and running it on semi-flat tyres."
Unless, of course, you already have a compatible tank (twin-coils) then a tank change will be required.
Does it contribute towards my central heating?
This answer depends on the type of setup you install. We would need to survey your home to see if our heat management system is suitable. In most cases, panels can contribute to your central heating, but not all installation companies offer this technology.
How long will it take you to install?
Two or three days in most cases.
What basics should I consider for an installation?
1. The tubes face roughly towards the sun. South, southwest or Southeast roofs are ideal. Even east or west roofs usually offer 85% of the performance.
2. The hot water cylinder must be twin-coiled. It does not matter if you don't as we can install a compatible and more efficient tank as part of your installation.
3. Listed buildings, conservation area homes, national parks may need consent. Please consult with your local planning officer.
How long will I be without running water?
Normally only 4-5 hours.
My entire heating system needs replacing, can you help?
Yes, a surveyor will advise on modernising with your current installation.
Do solar heating panels work on cloudier days?
This answer depends on the technology installed and the density of the cloud. Thermal flat-plate panels do not contribute as much as evacuated tubes in these conditions. In average cloud density, the sun's energy can still be used. Wet, heavy dark, dense cloud cover, probably not. Use your solar-powered calculator out on a cloudy day, and it will always work.
It is worth noting that higher quality solar collectors are better at retaining heat at lower solar energy levels than a more inferior quality collector.
How much CO2 will my I save?
Around half a tonne each year, but is dependent on how much hot water one use's and how your system currently heats your water at present.
Do we get enough sunshine to make a difference?
Yes, flat panels are developed for the UK climate and allow the inside of the solar panels to get very hot regardless of the outside air temperature.
What temperatures can I expect in the UK?
A good proportion of the year your water will be heated above 60° Celcius.
Is there a danger that the water could get too hot?
No, the systems never reach above 85° Celcius.
How does the glass clean itself?
The glass is coated with a microscopically thin layer of titanium dioxide. When ultraviolet light falls on the glass, the coating reacts with organic matter in the dirt, breaking it down into the water. The dust takes readily to water. Thus, when the rain arrives, it spreads uniformly across the surface, and the loosened dirt is washed away rather than streaking.
How does this work?
Solar thermal panels heat up due to the sun's short-wave radiation output converting to long-wave radiation.
The controller controls a variable speed pump based on temperature outputs.
The pump circulates a particular fluid (Glycol solution) through the hot collector and a heat exchanger in your hot water cylinder.
The temperature within the cylinder/tank that heats up.
The system shuts down automatically when, not in use, or when the collector temperature is lower than the cylinder.
Your collector will store up the heat even on cloudy days, so when the controller detects high temperatures in the panel, it will start up again.
You now have plenty of free hot water to use day or night.
Tanks of free hot water with solar heating panels.
Long before photovoltaics became popular, solar heating has been incorporated
into our history for thousands of years.
Even more recently, people have incorporated glass windows into their architecture, to take advantage of solar heating by placing windows on a southerly orientation.
Smart architects take full advantage of free heating from the sun within their creations today, but even if you're not lucky enough to build your own 'grand design' project, you can still use the power of the sun to reduce your dependency on our 'costly' modern energy network.
Buildings used as solar energy collectors is one thing, but the ability to condense down the sun's power into a usable source of energy for water heating is another, but with the aid of modern materials and components, the radiation that hits your roof can be utilised to heat your daily hot water requirements.
Although I don't have flat-plate panels in use my own home, I can advocate their benefits through its technological brother called evacuated tubes - that work on the same principle. My knowledge of flat-plate panels also come from working with a well-established German panel manufacturer where I worked alongside installers who routinely attach them to various roofing types either in an on-roof or in-roof styles.
Now, this system is not for everyone, and one of the problems encountered today is with people who have had a Combi boiler installed in recent years and lost their storage tank. If this is your situation, then I would recommend photovoltaic solar panels instead.
The tens of thousands of people who increasingly invest in solar panels, each year, do so as a long-term benefit. The need to rely less on conventional fuel types keeps coming up time and time again.
For those that do choose flat-plate solar panels - a common reason is aesthetics or the need to camouflage, integrate or conceal the system into the design of the house. The Velux style integration that in-roof panels provide retrofit homes with the ability benefit from solar technology without making it too visible.
Alongside modern thermal water tank technology, both elements working together can give you bountiful amounts of free hot water for most days of the year for the next three decades at least.
I initially began my road down the solar panel route because of the disturbing realisation that the natural flow oil and gas we have all become accustomed to, are becoming a lot more unstable and costly as more of the world's nations compete for less.
As more people encounter higher and unaffordable energy bills dropping on their welcome mats, we solar panel adopters can rest assured that the power of the sun will continue to keep ours down far into the future.
Solar heating panels in the United Kingdom
Solar heating panel technologies have recently been overlooked with the advent of feed-in tariffs being unveiled for their cousins PV electric solar panels.
Solar thermal panels, as they are also known, have now got their feed-in tariffs scheme recently, called the Renewable Heat Incentive, so a much brighter future is on the horizon for both of these once overlooked technologies.
There are two types of solar heating collectors available, called flat plate solar collectors and evacuated solar tubes. A collector is a device which collects, stores and builds up the heat for use elsewhere.
In the case of solar heating panels, these systems are used to provide hot water and in some cases, space heating with under-floor heating. This benefit is all done using the power of the sun, which bathes our country in solar radiation every day.
A common misconception about solar panels is they only work on a hot sunny day. This myth is untrue, although they do work at peak performance on such a day, the unique selling point for solar heating panels is that they work extremely well even under cloudy conditions too.
Diffused sunlight caused by cloud cover can still be captured, stored and used.
As solar radiation hits the panels or tubes, heat builds up within, and once a specified temperature reached, the management system activates an internal pump, and the heat is transferred into a cylinder using a particular heat transfer fluid.
This continued heat build-up mechanism allows your cylinder to heat up to temperatures of around 50-80 Degrees Celcius when in operation.
This technology has improved so much regarding efficiency and quality, especially the evacuated tubes that have swept away those old misconceptions about solar panels. As heating hot water is a large chunk of a household expense, an investment in this technology will be a sound one.
Solar heating is considered an environmentally-friendly way to obtain hot water for your domestic and commercial uses, including heating swimming pools, which will lower your carbon footprint as the world tries to reduce the effects of climate change.
The value added to your home after an installation is yet another incentive to equip your property with solar panel or evacuated tube equipment.
Solar heating has excellent financial benefits too, allowing up to 70% (south England) or 50% (Scotland) of your home's hot water needs, providing savings on your energy bills and generous feed-in tariff payments for the next 18 years through the government incentive scheme.
Solar heating panels in general are only installed by approved MCS solar panels installers using equipment certified under the Micro-Generation Certification Scheme to give you peace of mind for the next 30 plus years.
The length of time this technology is designed to last. A brief service check is provided by your installer every three years to check the system and check the PH balance of the solar fluid.
The savings provided by your solar heating panels are set to become even more valuable and noticeable as energy costs, which are predicted to rise by 60% over the next ten years.