Solar Thermal

Two solar thermal panels

Sunlight directly heats water for use in your hot water system. It consists of a collector on the roof, a system for taking water from the collector into the building and a storage tank. A simple system can heat the water in your hot water tank, with additional heating by your existing boiler when necessary.

Even in the UK the ground receives up to 1kW of energy per meter square. This means that enough energy from the sun will fall on the roof of the average house to supply that property with all of its energy requirements, if we could capture all of the energy.

The principle is to take the energy from the sun and use it to heat water. The main elements of the system are the solar collector which absorbs the energy from the sun, a transfer system which takes the energy from the collector into the building and an energy store which in its simplest form would be your domestic hot water tank.

The solar collector comes in two main types, the flat panel collector and the solar evacuated tube collector. The flat panel collector looks like a large roof window and can be fitting into an existing roof or mounted on the ground. The evacuated tube system is slightly more efficient and looks like a series of fluorescent tubes in a frame. Again this type can be roof or ground mounted.

The orientation of the panel is extremely important and as far as possible should face south in order to maximise the efficiency of the system. Most systems are designed to provide domestic hot water only, although some systems are designed to contribute to the heating requirements of the property. A well specified system on a typical house will provide up to 75% of the annual domestic hot water requirements and up to 100% during the summer months.

See our page on Financial support for energy saving and generation.   The sections on that page relevant to this technology are those on the Renewable Heat Incentive and on the Green Homes Grant Scheme.

Have a look at our advice on choosing an installer if you plan to install this technology.

For local case studies that include solar thermal systems follow the links below

1. GOH_2014_Case_Study_Victorian_Eco_Renovation and the article A Local Eco House Renovation part 4: Solar Thermal Energy: Taking a Sun Shower

2.  GOH_2014_Case_Study_1860s stone built house

3.  GOH_2014_Case_Study_A village home

4.  GOH_2014_Case_Study_Dairy Farm

5.  GOH_2014_Case_Study_A village home

6.  GOH 2015 Case Study Great Ayton new home

Follow this link to return to the page on Renewable Energy Technologies