A third of the average householder’s energy bill is due to the cost of heating water, and installing Solar Thermal Panels can significantly reduce this cost. In the winter months, Solar Thermal can produce up to 60% of a household’s hot water, and in the summer it can be up to 100%. Businesses such as hotels, swimming pools, and even farms; anywhere when hot water is required; can also benefit from installing Solar Thermal.
As well as reducing your energy costs, eligible systems can earn you an income via the Renewable Heat Incentive, now available for both Domestic and Commercial installations.
How does it work?
Solar Thermal Systems use the Sun’s energy to produce hot water for your domestic, commercial or public property. This hot water is then stored in a tank, ready to be used as and when you need it.
Solar Collector: can consist of either flat panels or evacuated tubes.
Flat panels contain a system of copper pipes lying along an absorber plate which is coated in a substance designed to maximise the absorption of the Sun’s heat. The transfer medium, normally water, flows through the pipes and is heated by the energy absorbed by the plate. Flat panels are more robust and significantly less expensive than evacuated tubes, and are well suited to be mounted on a roof. Although they are less efficient and need direct sunlight to operate at maximum potential, flat panels tend to be larger than tube systems so will give you the same output.
Evacuated tubes consist of a series of glass tubes within which is a copper pipe. The space between two tubes is evacuated to form a vacuum, and contains a slender absorption plate. The vacuum means that loss of energy via convection is negligible, making these systems more efficient than the flat panel type. Since these also use a liquid called glycol which has a very low boiling temperature, as a transfer medium to flow through the copper pipes, they are also resistant to freezing. They need a smaller surface area in comparison to a flat panels array of the same power.
Solar Controller: This regulates the temperature of both the solar collector and the water inside the tank. When the collector is a predetermined degree hotter than the water, the controller activates a pump, and deactivates it when the temperature difference is reduced again.
Pump: When this pump is activated, it circulates the heated transfer medium from the collector through a closed loop pipe, which passes through the water tank and transfers heat to the water.
Tank: The tank has a cold water feed into the base and a tap from the top where the heated water lies. Heated water is stored here until it is required.
Is my property suitable?
Solar Thermal is most effective when the collector array faces south, south east or south west. However, if your roof is not orientated south, and it is not possible to split the array so that one panel faces East and another West, or to construct an A-frame onto a flat roof or wall, your home is likely unsuitable.
Badly shaded areas (by trees, chimneys or other buildings) are also unsuitable for Solar Thermal.
Mr Howell Williams, of Blaencamlais Fawr Farm, Brecon, runs an agricultural business, JG Williams and Son. Mr Williams was converting a barn...
In November 2006, Kit Davidson from Ty Brith, looking to save on his energy bills, enquired with regards to the installation of a Solar Ther...