Solar thermal water heating systems are the most popular renewable product on the market today. They utilise radiation from the sun, which is the most abundant energy source on the planet.
Solar thermal flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes are positioned on a buildings roof. They absorb energy from sunlight and, in some cases, daylight. This energy is transferred to a fluid, which is circulated around the system through a specially designed solar cylinder, heating the domestic hot water.
Solar cylinders can provide almost all of a home's hot water during the summer and about 50 percent year round. Supplementary water heating is usually provided via a boiler and a conventional fuel like LPG - with high efficiency models increasing the energy and carbon savings.
A typical solar thermal water heating installation will be around £6,000 (including the central heating boiler)*.
The capital and installation costs are relatively high – but it is the cheapest form of renewable heating available.
They can offer a shorter payback than other renewable technologies, it would take around 15 years for a typical solar and LPG system.
Property owners benefit from reduced fuel bills with annual savings of around 20 percent per annum*.
The solar element alone produces zero CO2 emissions when in use.
In the summer months the solar collectors and the ‘free’ solar energy can heat almost all of a property’s hot water.
By adding solar to an LPG heating system you will reduce the amount of carbon by 16 percent*.
From April 2008, all homeowners in Britain are free to install microgeneration equipment** like solar panels without getting planning
permission for them.
They can be installed in the majority of properties in the UK – making it very versatile.
Solar thermal systems are suitable for retrofit applications, where flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes are secured onto existing roof tiles, or new build, where inset solar panels are usually chosen.
There are many products available from leading manufacturers.
They are low maintenance
For optimum benefits the collectors need to be installed on a south facing roof angled between 35° and 45°.
The property will need to accommodate a solar cylinder, which are slightly larger than conventional ones.
A back-up is required for supplementary heating, so the property owner will still be using conventional fuels. LPG is an ideal backup in off mains gas areas, being the lowest carbon emitting fossil fuel.
* NJK Heating Consultants - based on installation in a 3 bed detached