The benefits of solar hot water
Solar hot water systems deliver reasonable financial benefits when the Renewable Heat Incentive and RHPP are taken into account:
- Reduced heating costs: By converting free sunlight into heat, you can reduce your heating and hot water bill by as much as £80 a year, with the RHPP scheme giving a grant of £300. With the Renewable Heat Incentive included, this saving will be even greater.
- Reduced carbon footprint: Energy from the sun produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful greenhouse gases.
- Hot water all year: The system works all year round, though you'll need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater during the winter months.
- Low maintenance: Most solar water heating systems come with a 5-10 year warranty and require little maintenance.
Solar water-heating can provide you with about half of your hot water needs. In a study by BRE, 6 houses fitted with solar water heating were monitored and the energy savings in heating and hot water varied from 26 – 70%. The average was 50%, which is an average saving of 1,200 kWh of energy per year.
Energy Saving Trust studies suggest savings based on the hot water and heating requirements of a 3 bed semi-detached home with a 3.4m2 collector are £80 a year for a home using electricity, and £55 per year for a gas heated home.
What to do next?
- Do I need to replace my hot water cylinder to get a solar thermal panels installed?
- If your hot water cylinder is not large enough for a second heating coil it will need to be replaced with a larger 'solar cylinder' specially designed for use with solar thermal panels. The cylinder needs to be larger because it has to accommodate your boiler/immersion heater's heating coil as well as the heating coil from the solar thermal system.
- Does my roof need to face south to be suitable for solar thermal?
- A south facing roofs at a 30° angle offers the best annual output for a solar thermal system. However, east or west facing roofs can function very well as the available solar radiation only reduces by about 20% in these orientations. The size of the panels can be increased to compensate for this reduction.
- How much do solar thermal collectors weigh?
- It depends on the make, but in they usually weigh in the region of about 20kg per square metre. Typical panels can measure around 2m x 1m or 2m x 2m, with 5m2 needed for the average installation.
- Are solar thermal collectors or panels fragile?
- Not typically - they are designed to withstand the elements so they should be quite robust. All MCS accredited products should last their predicted 20 year lifetime.
- How hot does solar heated water get?
- Very hot! The water can easily exceed 100°C, therefore it is important that the components are able to withstand these temperatures. All MCS certified products will be able to do so.
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