Can Solar Thermal Be Used to Heat My Home

How do Solar Thermal Panels work?

Solar power can be used to create heat for the home by converting the suns energy into heat. The panels, which are called collectors, work by collecting the heat from the sun which warms water and then storing this in a water cylinder. The two types of of panels used to heat water are flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes. Flat plate panels can be fixed onto the roof. Most people run a back up system using a boiler to heat up the temperature if the water heated by solar power is not hot enough. Back up systems are especially important in the winter months when the sun shines less often. However the solar system will cut the heating bills in the residence. The final benefit of using solar thermal panels is that they reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. There are also panels known as hybrid panels available which used in systems to create electricity for your home in addition to heating water.

How to tell if a Solar Thermal System is Suitable for your Home

Not every home will be suitable for installing solar thermal systems. Firstly there needs to be sufficient appropriate space for an installation. The roof should be facing south and not be overshadowed. The system will take up approximately 5m2. Prior to installation the installer should check if the roof is structurally strong enough to hold the panels. The next requirement is whether your home has space for a solar cylinder to hold the water. Traditional immersion heaters are not suitable for solar systems, so they either need to be replaced, or an additional cylinder with a solar heating coil should be installed. Householders should check if their boilers is compatible with a solar thermal system. Most are compatible, however if you have a combi system with no hot water tank then it may not be compatible. The final check is whether there any planning restrictions on installing the collectors. Generally, planning consent is not required, but it is always worth checking.

Costs

How much a solar thermal system costs depends upon the requirements of the householder. Typically, a standard system costs from £4,500 upwards. If the roof requires strengthening and or additional cylinders are required then costs will be higher. The reduction in costs achieved by solar thermal systems are, on average, in the region of £50 to £100 a year. Solar thermal systems are not eligible for cash back under the feed in tariff scheme. The government is still deliberating the renewable heat incentive which would cover solar thermal systems. Maintenance costs for solar thermal systems are minimal, and they typically come with a warranty of up to ten years. Installation companies will be able to ascertain whether solar thermal is suitable for heating your house and will be able to give you a personalised quote. Always get quotes from more than one provider, so you can be sure that you are getting the system best suited to your requirements.

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