Solar Thermal Installers UK

Solar Thermal (Water Heating) Panel Installers UK

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Gas boilers will not be installed in newly built homes from 2025, for heating and hot water.   Renewable heating systems such as air source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and solar thermal are low-carbon alternatives that take energy from sustainable sources. They are set to replace gas boilers for all homes in the future.

Now would appear to be a good time to look into installing a solar thermal hot-water system. There are many other benefits that you will enjoy, other than saving on energy bills.

What is a solar thermal hot water system?

A solar thermal panel uses heat from the sun to heat the water in your house. The use of solar thermal panels has been around for years, and more people now realise the potential benefits they can enjoy from using this form of renewable energy.

Even with the obvious benefit of lowering your energy bill, are they worth installing?

As solar thermal installers in the UK, we help clients realise just how efficient and cost-effective solar thermal panels can be.

The Benefits and Further Information

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Before you arrange for a quotation with a solar thermal installer, here’s some more information about the benefits and different systems available to you.

1. Lower utility bill

Heating and hot water are the main culprits for your ever-increasing energy bill. By using solar energy to heat the water, you quickly reduce the energy bill – significantly.

It is not uncommon to switch your boiler off completely during the Spring and Summer seasons.

By installing a solar thermal hot-water system, your water heating bill should drop by around 50%–80%. Additionally, and because the sun’s energy is free, you’re protected from future fuel shortages and price increases.

2. Lower your carbon footprint

The solar thermal system reduces your home’s carbon emissions by reducing the amount of energy your home consumes to heat the water. Your home will be using green energy and is not so reliant on fossil fuels.

3. Very low running costs

With the installation of a low-energy circulation pump and a well-insulated hot-water cylinder, your very low running costs is another reason to consider installing a solar thermal hot water system. Once installed, there is virtually zero maintenance required, unlike traditional water-heating boilers. 

We recommend a professional check of the system every few years to ensure it is working correctly.

4. Low maintenance needs

The maintenance of a solar thermal system should be carried out every 3 to 5 years. Solar thermal hot-water systems will benefit from periodic inspections and routine maintenance (if necessary)to keep them running efficiently. Now and again,  a component may need repairing, upgrading or replacing. A periodic inspection is a good opportunity to take steps to check for scaling, corrosion, and changing the glycol (anti-freeze) within the system.

Always consider using professional servicing to avoid unwanted damages where possible.

Solar Thermal Panel Types

There are two main types of solar thermal panels, as described below:

1. Flat Plate Collectors

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The flat plate collector has a similar design to the traditional solar panels.

It has a dark-surface with a glazed absorber plate. The absorber plate contains metal tubing which carries the water throughout and around the panel. There is an aluminium or copper covering that encases the metal tubing to prevent heat from escaping once it is trapped.

The water runs through the metal tubing as and when the system’s thermostat calls for water to be heated. The flat-plate collector system harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it into heat. This is then transferred into your home’s hot-water cylinder (installed if necessary) as hot water. The heated water from the collectors is pumped to a heat exchanger inside your hot- water cylinder.

2. Evacuated Tube Collectors

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These solar thermal hot-water panels have borosilicate glass tubes which are set parallel to each other. They come in various sizes with a varying number of tubes.

Each evacuated glass tube is made up of two glass tubes, having been produced from extremely strong borosilicate glass. The outer tube is transparent, allowing light rays to pass through with minimal reflection.

How the collectors work

how the collectors work

  1. Evacuated tube absorber layer collects the incoming solar radiation.
  2. The absorber moves this free energy to the copper heat pipe where the energy is stored by the working fluid. (glycol usually)
  3. This fluid boils at approx 30°C and then vapourises as it rises to the heat bulb at the top.
  4. The heat bulb transfers the energy into the water as it passes by through the manifold.
  5. The vapour cools, condenses and returns to the base of the heat pipe where the process is then repeated.

Evacuated tube solar hot-water systems are generally more expensive than flat-plate collectors because of their construction. They are nevertheless more efficient.

Average Installation Costs

The installation cost of a solar thermal hot-water system is determined by several factors: The type of panel and how many, access equipment required for the installation of the panels, whether or not a solar-ready hot-water cylinder is required, and the size.

Very often, our customers want to relocate their existing hot-water cylinder, that’s another variable.

We have installed systems from £4,500 (inc.5% VAT) upwards, depending on the above.

Solar Thermal Hot-Water Systems in the UK

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As much as the solar thermal panels can utilise the sun’s free energy to heat the water, a few things still affect their performance. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind.

  • The sun’s availability: For the UK, the sunnier months are between April to September. The panels absorb more heat, thus lowering your energy bills even further during this period.

  • Hot water use in the house: If it is a busy household with many people, then the demand for hot water will increase. It means that sometimes you have to rely on the main water heating system to supplement any additional demand.

  • The hot water cylinder’s capacity: The solar thermal panels will have a hot water cylinder as part of the installation. It’s sometimes possible to connect your existing hot-water cylinder. However, many people elect to upgrade their cylinder, especially if it’s very old. The new cylinder’s size determines how much hot water it can hold at any time and the cost too.

  • Some additional plumbing is necessary when setting up the solar thermal hot-water system. This generally happens if you decide to relocate the hot-water cylinder at the time of installation.