Why solar heating?

Energy consumption in the UK is rising steadily with our standards of living. Can solar hot water systems help to reduce this consumption? Well yes, the sun is a very useful and free energy resource which will remain so for future generations.

It is estimated that we receive over a thousand kilowatt hours of solar energy per square metre every year. Even if sunshine is diffused through clouds, the energy can still be collected and used by a solar water heating system.

Solar hot water heating can provide most of the daily hot water requirements for the home or work place. Solar heating collectors (panels) contribute to around 65% of the total annual energy required in heating hot water. During the summer a solar heating system can supply virtually all the hot water needed, with water temperatures of 70-85 °C not uncommon. Even in winter, the system can reduce water heating costs by around 20%.

Solar Water Heating

Solar water heating (solar thermal) systems has collectors (panels) on the roof that convert sunlight to heat. This heat can then be used to heat our domestic hot water, a swimming pool or even assist with underfloor heating. Every time he sun is out, even on a cold winter’s day, the solar collector is turning this sunlight into heat. Reducing your dependence on gas, oil and electricity and helping protect the environment. It is estimated that a typical domestic installation saves around 1500m3 CO2 per annum, which is like taking one car off our roads for a whole year.

There are two basic types of solar heating collectors; the conventional flat panel and the more efficient vacuum tube collectors.

solar panel

solar panel with cover

Flat solar heating panels vs. Vacuum tube collectors

Evacuated tube solar collectors are more efficient than conventional flat panels and perform considerably better in the cold and overcast conditions typical of the UK. The higher efficiency of evacuated tube solar collectors mean less area is needed on the roof for the solar heating panels.

Having fewer panels on the roof reduces the fluid content of a solar heating system. Which gives a much quicker response to the heat from solar radiation (sunlight).

Vacuum is the best possible insulation for a solar heating panel. It safeguards it from moisture, condensation and pollutants - resulting in improved durability and all-year-round performance.

Summary of advantages of vacuum tube collectors over flat panels.

  1. Higher conversion of solar radiator energy even at low light intensities (e.g. cloudy days)
  2. Ability to achieve high temperatures from the same exposure
  3. The vacuum tube collectors are easy to install due to lightweight design
  4. Covers less roof area – easier and quicker to install
  5. Each tube on the solar collector is individually replaceable allowing for easy repair in case of damage
  6. Longer life span providing an improved return on investment
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