PV solar panel installations in the Uniterd Kingdom.
Schematic for a solar heating installation in the UK.

"Solar heating offers reduced boiler use."

Solar heating panels and installations

Learn about hot water from traditional solar heating panels. Also known as flat plate solar panels, these heat water and reduce immersion coil usage.

Your home's heating system will operate more efficiently while extending boiler life. From March to October, your traditional boiler won't be necessary. Solar heating panels heat due to short-wave radiation converting to long-wave on impact.

In a nutshell:

Before the advent of photovoltaics, solar heating was King. A common misconception is they only work on hot sunny days. They do operate at peak temperatures on such days. My alternative to traditional solar heating is the PV-to-heat converter.

Solar heating panels and efficiency.

The science bit.

A popular solar technology before the advent of evacuated tube systems:

Easy solar panels.

The cost of a system depends on several factors, but usually based on tank size. Nowadays, I only recommend PV with tank heating.

Common questions about solar heating

What about combi boilers?

Combi boilers aren't possible in most cases. We would need to re-install a hot water tank. Most homes with Combi's won't have the space to install a hot water tank.

Can I install solar heating myself?

Yes, if you work with a local tradesperson, it is possible to install a DIY installation.

Is there a danger that it could get too hot?

The system may never rise above 85° Celcius.

Can you upgrade my hot-water tank?

Older 'copper' hot water tanks run exceptionally inefficiently, especially after many years of use. Limescale will reduce performance even further. When installing a solar heating system, it's essential to establish an efficient tank to get the most out of your system.

Do I require planning permission?

Listed buildings, conservation area homes, and national parks may require permission. Please consult with your local planning officer.

How long will I be without running water?

Normally only 4-5 hours.

Do solar heating panels work on cloudy days?

This question depends on the density of the cloud. In average cloud density, solar panels use passive energy. With dense cloud cover, probably not.

Solar panels for heating systems.

Solar heating panels.

Self-installing solar heating

These first-generation solar heating panels sit upon or integrate into your existing roof. A-frames are available for ground-mounted installation.

System requirements:

Tank size: 150-220 Litres.

1 x Solar heating panel.
1 x Roof fitting kit.*
1 x 18 Litre expansion vessel
1 x Expansion installation kit.
1 x Controller & pump station.
1 x 5 Litres Glycol fluid.
Twin-coiled tank.


Length: 2206mm x Width: 1205mm x Height: 100mm.
Weight per panel: 55 kg.
Aperture Area: 0.995 m2
Efficiency: 95%.
Fluid Capacity: 550m.

The basics.

Installation guide.

For every 100-180 Litre tank size, you will need two m2 arrays or three m2 for 180-300 Litre.

Installing solar heating panels.

Health and safety should be a priority when self-installing solar heating panels.

1. Scaffolding will be necessary up to the level of the guttering. This equipment will give you a safe working platform. Use additional roof ladders to prevent damage to the roof covering. Make measurements from the inside of the loft space. Locate the pump station with the shortest route.

2. The roof anchors get fixed into the underneath roof batons. You can remove a tile or slate to gain access. Measuring diagonally from corner to corner will help square up the anchors ready for the aluminum mainframe.

The best part of this installation is attaching the solar panels to the roof. Some styles of evacuated tube collectors allow you to piece together the array.

Please note - Ready-assembled collectors will need to be hoisted up to the scaffolding using a roofers pulley system. Some self-installers work alongside a roofing company for this stage of the installation.

An inlet and outlet hole for the pipes can be drilled through the tile/slate and resealed using roof-grade silicone. Exposed pipework should be insulated with Armoflex sheafing up to the headers inlet and outlet ports.

3. Route your pipework down towards the pump station with 'compression' joints. Connect the pump station to the correct hot and cold feed connections. Connect the pump station to the correct hot and cold feed connections.

The Expansion Vessel gets installed next to the pump station. Typical locations for these components are in the loft space, basement, or airing cupboard.

4. Some solar heating installations may require an upgraded hot water tank. Unvented or pressurised cylinders are typical, but a G3 plumber's accreditation is necessary - however, a traditional vented tank with a secondary solar coil is good.

5. Now decide where to locate The Controller.

Routing the Temperature Sensors from the controller to the tank and header can follow the route of the pipework in most cases.

6. Pressurising the system with the Glycol fluid can be done with a plumber's pump unit. Flushing the system out of all air bubbles is essential, and the pressure of three bars is standard. The final operation is to set up the controller and temperature sensors.

Check pipework and connections.

Solar panels made easy

"I've witnessed many fantastic changes, innovations, and aftermarket products arrive on the scene. My 'quality matters' approach to helping people adopt solar panels is what drives me today." Empowering people since 2004.

Stuart Lovatt
Power My Home Solar Panels
Sundial House, Panton Road, Chester CH2 3HX.
Book an appointment