Evacuated Tube Solar Thermal Collectors

Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors

Evacuated tube solar collectors are a form of solar panel designed to harness the heat of the sun to heat your domestic water supply, thereby reducing bills and your carbon footprint. Evacuated tube collectors consist of a large number of glass tubes. When the heat from the sun hits the tube, it passes into an absorbing fluid which then passes on the heat in the heat exchange, leaving the fluid to be reused. The glass tubes are surrounded by a vacuum which means significantly less heat is lost through convection. The vacuum means the evacuated tube collectors continue to function well in colder conditions and is one of the reasons why evacuated tube panels are more efficient than the alternative flat plate collectors. This efficiency is further boosted as the design of the tube based collectors means a greater surface area is exposed to the sun’s rays increasing the amount of heat that is collected. Evacuated tube collectors will need to be situated on a sunny angled roof to work at an optimum level.

Cost of Evacuated Tube Collectors

Evacuated tube systems are the more expensive of the two types of solar thermal collectors; however this is offset by their increased efficiency. Installing an evacuated tube system will usually cost somewhere in the region of four to seven thousand pounds. The more panels you have the greater the cost will be, but for a three bedroom house with a five metre square system these are representative figures.

Once the water has been heated, you will need a cylinder in which to store it and if you currently have a combi boiler with no cylinder, this may be a further cost to add to the installation. Investing in an evacuated tube collector system will reduce your energy bills by a small amount each year. Typical savings depend upon the current method you are using to heat your water, but they tend to be less than one hundred pounds per year, with the greater savings being achieved by those who have an electric water heater. However, by installing thermal plate collectors you will be eligible to apply for income under the government's Renewable Heat Incentive which pays a certain amount each year depending on how much heat your system generates. Additionally, it may offer some help with installation costs through the premium payment.

Installing Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors

When installing these systems, it is advisable to choose a supplier who has been accredited under the microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) as this is a prerequisite for claiming payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive. You will also need to have a suitable installation site which receives sunlight for most of the day.

Generally, planning permission is not required for evacuated tube collector installations as long as they do not protrude further than two hundred millimetres from the roof. However, permission may be required in you live in certain areas such as conservation zones, so it is always recommended that you check with your local council's planning department. Once the collectors are installed the maintenance is minimal, bar a brief annual clean and check.

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