What is Solar Water Heating?

solar panels with water tank on roof

For domestic water heating purposes, solar water heating uses the sun’s energy. Since this technology relies on a renewable energy source, converting to it would lead to your domestic carbon footprint being reduced.

Usually, individuals equate solar energy with solar panels that turn the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar thermal panels, however, make it possible to use the sun’s energy for water heating purposes.

A solar water heating system can fulfil approximately a third of the hot water demand for a family of four. More precisely, if you invest in a three-bedroom semi-detached house with this sort of sustainable heating solution, you can save £ 55 to £ 80 on your annual water-heating bills.

Owners of solar water heating systems are also eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) program, which is intended to reward households financially for heating their buildings using renewable energy.

If you are looking for a solar water heating system supplier and installer, then take a look at the following:

What is The Greener Homes Grant & What Does It Mean For Solar Water Heaters?

green homes grant for solar water heating systems

The Green Homes Grant, which offers £ 5,000 – £ 10,000 vouchers for energy-saving upgrades to homeowners and tenants, has been extended for a year until 31 March 2022.

The solar thermal panels are included under the grant scheme’s primary steps.

For complete information on how to apply, read our Green Homes Grant guide.

The government’s Green Homes Grant is only available in England, and works can proceed in all levels under the current restrictions.

How Does Solar Water Heating Work?

heated solar water tank system

For domestic or commercial uses, a solar water heating system utilizes solar energy to heat water. It is also erroneously believed that solar panels and water heating panels have the same purpose, but this is incorrect.

With the use of solar collectors, solar water heating systems absorb the sun’s heat. In general, collectors are fitted (pitched or flat) to the roof where they receive the most sunlight. The solar water heating system and solar panels can also be installed at ground level or even on a wall facing south, but the place where the collectors are most open to the sun will often be the better choice.

As an additional choice, an immersion heater or a boiler may be used to raise the water temperature when needed.

There are two main types of solar panels that collect heat and that differ primarily in their aesthetics, but have very similar performance values:

  1. Evacuated tubes
  2. Flat plate collectors

What Are Flat Plate Collectors?

Flat plate collectors are hot water solar panels mounted on a roof with flat glazing, while the evacuated tubes consist of multiple “vacuum tubes” mounted on a roof in a manifold.

What Are Evacuated Tubes?

You’ll need to route some highly insulated pipes from the heat collectors to a hot water storage tank or cylinder. Coldwater is then pumped through the collector from the bottom of this cylinder, which heats the water and then transfers it to the top of the hot water store.

How Much Does Solar Water Heating Cost?

Depending upon the size of the property in question and whether you need a brand new hot water system or you use a current one that’s already installed. A domestic device would usually cost upwards of around £3k. Bear in mind, however, that precise solar water heating panel prices are difficult to estimate, so consulting with an installer is often recommended.

You will save a great deal on your monthly energy bill if you plan to purchase solar hot water panels.

When switching from a gas heating system, typical savings on a solar water heating system with a properly insulated house, proper installation, and proper use can reach up to £ 60 per year, and £ 70 per year when switching from an immersion heater.

Savings, however, can vary depending on the energy consumption of the household.

Financial Support

It is cost-effective to get your hot water through solar heating technology, particularly if you make use of the Renewable Heat Incentive. This is a government scheme for the use of low carbon heating systems to reward homeowners.

Currently, the tariff is 21.36 p/kWh for solar thermal panels.

Although the original installation costs of solar water heating panels can seem high, if you make use of the RHI, it is a cost-effective domestic heating solution.

Benefits of Solar Water Heaters

benefits of heated solar water tank systems

There are many advantages of using solar-powered hot water in your home. We have mentioned a few of the benefits of solar water heaters and heating systems below:

  • Throughout the whole year, solar hot water heaters provide hot water.
  • As it can supply a third of your hot water needs, it decreases energy bills.
  • You can save upwards of 30 kg+ worth of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. This decreases your carbon footprint.
  • Solar water heaters have relatively low maintenance costs but high reliability, compared to other clean energy options, as shown by their average warranty of five to ten years.
  • Solar water heating uses the heat of the sun, so after you have covered the initial costs of investing in an installation, in addition to the amount of energy required to operate the pump powering the system, there are very few additional costs.
  • It works together with your existing boiler for heating or hot water, or even with biomass and heat pumps.
  • Solar water heating is eligible for monthly earnings from the Renewable Heat Incentive to generate electricity from renewable resources.

Tips for Choosing a Solar Water Heater

choosing a solar water heating system

In order to maximize your purchase, you should consider these cleaning and maintenance tips when selecting your solar water heating system:

Your roof is facing south. Or make sure you choose the best position to fit the solar collectors in your building, which will ensure their optimum efficiency. Consider purchasing a thermodynamic panel which can be mounted on either side of the building, if this is not feasible.

You have the necessary south-facing roof area open. You would need approximately one square meter of collector area per person living in the building in the case of flat plate collectors. This is enough for between 30 and 60 litres of water to heat up.

Getting an Energy Efficiency Survey carried out to check whether you are optimizing the use of energy is a smart idea. If you don’t, before installing the solar water heating system, you can make the requisite modifications.

Solar Water Heating System Maintenance

The maintenance costs are typically minimal, unlike the initial cost of solar water heating systems. As already mentioned, usually with a five to the ten-year warranty on solar heating systems. You need not deal with any extra costs once you have installed solar heating panels on your roof.

It is important to remember, however, that to ensure that your solar hot water system is working properly, you need to have periodic maintenance checks. Every three to seven years, you can have it tested by a competent installer, which is a sufficient time period for the antifreeze to be checked, topped up, or even replaced to prevent any potential leaks.

The average cost of a solar water heating panel to replace the antifreeze fluid is around £ 100.

We hope you found this post about solar water heating useful. You can find more blog posts about renewable energy systems you can consider if you feel solar water heating isn’t for you. You can also find out more about the Green Homes Grants in another one of our posts with instructions on how you can apply for grants to fund your green home renovations, upgrades and home improvements.

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