Solar Thermal Installation Prices UK

What is Solar Thermal Technology?

Solar thermal panels are a relatively new technology which has grown in popularity with the rise of solar power and environmentalism. We are more aware, through government initiatives and the media, that we need to seek alternative energy sources to reduce our carbon footprint and release us from our dependence on fossil fuels. This may be well and good, but many people may think solar thermal panels are unreliable and too expensive. In this article we will briefly explain how solar thermal panels work and give a more detailed account on how much they may cost to install.

Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal panels are part of a wider system which uses the heat from the sun to provide hot water to a property. This hot water can be used like any hot water from a standard boiler, for example, in a central heating system. The panels themselves are placed on the roof and collect heat from the sun which is then used to heat water stored in a separate water cylinder. This cylinder, in effect, becomes your boiler.

The main drawback to the system is that you will not always receive enough sunlight to heat your water. In the UK, this is especially true of the winter months. Therefore, solar thermal systems will still be dependent on a reserve boiler or immersion heater to provide hot water all year round.

How much do Solar Thermal Panels cost to Install?

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for the installation of the panels because this is dependent on a large range of variable factors. These factors include the size of panels, type of roof and contractor used. To illustrate the fact, in 2008, Oxford University researchers found out that between 2006 and 2008 installation costs of standard solar thermal panels ranged from as little as £1,000 to as much as £8,000. However, as a general rule, standard solar thermal panels cost in the region of between £3,000 and £6,000 to install.

Some of the total cost will, of course, be made back on savings on utility bills. It is estimated replacing a gas boiler would save around £60 a year and replacing an immersion heater would save £80 a year. In late 2012, the government will also introduce their Renewable Heat Incentive which is expected to reward owners of solar thermal panels installed after the summer of 2009. A reward payment or tariff is likely but this has yet to be officially confirmed.

In Brief

Solar thermal panels are a viable way of heating water to be used throughout a property using 'free' heat from the sun. Although the system will not be able to heat water all the time it will reduce a property's carbon footprint. Solar thermal panels, however, do not come cheap and average installation prices hit the £5,000 mark. That said, savings will be made on future utility bills and the government's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme could also ease the burden of the installation costs. It, however, remains to be seen whether solar thermal panels will become as popular as their photovoltaic panel counterparts.

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