Solar Thermal Calculator

What Is Solar Thermal Energy And How Does It Work?

Solar thermal energy is the production of heat via the sun's energy. This heat can be used in a number of ways from heating water to generating electricity, but the solar thermal energy systems used in residential households are more commonly used just to heat water.

The solar thermal energy system consists of a collection of plates or panels which are installed on the roof in much the same way as a PV solar panel system would be. The plates contain a glycol solution which becomes heated as the plates capture the sun's energy. This heated glycol solution is then transported to the hot water tank where it heats the water inside as it works its way through a serious of special coils. Once the glycol solution has heated the water, it will then return to the plates to become reheated.

Online Thermal Heating System Calculators

If you are considering a solar thermal energy system but are unsure of which size to opt for, there are a variety of online calculators which can help you calculate the size of the hot water heating system required for your home. The forms are generally simple and easy to fill out and will only take a few minutes if you have all the relevant information to hand.

Firstly you will be asked to enter the number of occupants residing in your household followed by your postcode. You will then need to state your heating fuel, whether its mains gas, LPG or electricity, followed by the seasonal efficiency of your boiler and your hot water storage cylinder type which will be either vented, pressurised or thermal store.

The next section will ask you to enter your preferred form of solar collector, either tube collectors or plate collectors and the orientation of the collector, whether your property is south, east or west facing. You will then be required to input the tilt of the collector in degrees and the shade factor, also in degrees.

Finally you will be asked which system sizing method you require, whether it be a lower cost system or a higher solar yield system. You can then click on the calculate tab to find out which heating system best suits you and how much you can expect to spend on the system.

Other online calculators are very useful for helping you get to grips with your thermal heating system once it has been installed. These calculators can also track the daily functioning of the system and let you know how much energy is being produced and how much money you are both making and saving.

Who Uses Solar Thermal Energy?

Solar thermal energy is also used on a larger scale by industrial and commercial projects needing to produce electricity, but smaller businesses can also benefit from the solar thermal energy systems for heating and hot water. Both domestic households and businesses using the systems for water heating will notice a significant reduction in their heating bills and in some cases, depending on the size of the system installed, it is possible to see a reduction of up to 80%.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The reduction in heating bills alone is probably enough to persuade many people to opt for solar thermal energy systems, but with the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme run by the government, those with these systems can also benefit from a fixed annual payment.

The incentive scheme means that for each kW/h produced, the customer will receive 18p, so if a heating system produces 2,150 kW/h of heat per year, the customer can expect an annual payment of £387.00.

Another bonus of this incentive scheme is that it will continue to pay up for a fixed term of 20 years, giving the customer a guaranteed 20 year income from their thermal heating systems, more than enough time to recoup their initial outlay.

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