Solar Thermal Systems Prices

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal is a process of collecting energy from the sun using a solar panels system. Solar panels are already used to provide electricity to a number of UK homes and now more people are seeing the advantages of solar thermal also. The collected energy can then be used to warm the water in your home. You can still use your existing boiler or immersion heater to make the water hotter when required and as a backup source when energy from the panels is no longer available.

Solar panels

The solar panels work by using solar cells to collect energy from daylight and this is then converted into power to heat the water in the home. The solar panels will work at their most efficient when installed facing south and can be attached to a conventional sloping roof as well as a flat roof or even a wall. The panels should not be overshadowed by trees or neighbouring buildings. Most domestic properties can provide suitable locations for the panels but asbestos roofing and lead roofing both make for unsuitable sites.

Benefits of a Solar Thermal System

There are a wealth of benefits available for property owners who choose to have a solar thermal system installed. Firstly, they will benefit from hot water all the year round and will only have to use their boiler or immersion heater in the winter months when energy from the panels is at its lowest. Overheads will be slashed as sunlight is a free source of power and once enough money has been saved on one's utility bills to pay off the initial investment, the rest can be considered profit. Carbon footprints will be cut as solar energy is a green, eco-friendly source of power and installing the system will always increase the value of a property.

How Much Will It Cost?

An average sized solar water system installed in the UK costs approximately £4,000. Savings from the system will vary depending on the season as it will produce a great deal more energy during the summer months than it will during the winter months. It will also depend on the size of the system you have installed. Average customers can save up to £55 per year when they use the panels to replace a gas heating system and up to £80 per year when it is used to replace an electric immersion heating system. However, you can also potentially earn money back from the panels via the government's new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme is due to start issuing payments from summer 2012.

What Is RHI?

The Renewable Heat Incentive has been launched to encourage more home owners to have a source of renewable energy installed onto their properties; in this case a solar thermal hot water system. Later this year (2012), the government will guarantee tariff payments to customers who are using this source of renewable energy and these will be based on how many units of energy each individual system produces. The tariff will be available not just to homeowners but also any commercial or public building that has the system in place. Systems that are already installed on properties from July 15th 2009 will also be eligible to start receiving payments from the tariff. The payments are guaranteed for twenty years and are tax free and index linked, meaning they will rise with inflation.

To qualify for the scheme, the system you have installed should be fitted by a MCS certified installer and using MCS approved parts. MCS certification is designed to make sure consumers are protected as both products and their installers must meet strict criteria. Also, customers can claim the tariff if the products are Solar Keymark scheme approved and have been installed using an MCS approved installer.

Suitability

To have a solar thermal system installed, you will need about 5sq metres of roof space available which faces south and will receive the maximum amount of daylight possible. The panels do not always have to be installed on a conventional sloping roof as they work just as well on flat roof mounted upon a frame and even on walls. You will also require enough space for a larger, or additional, hot water system. If a solar cylinder is not currently in place, you will need to replace your existing cylinder or, alternatively, you could add a dedicated cylinder with an included solar heating coil installed.

Your existing boiler will also have to be compatible with the solar water heating system. Many standard boilers and hot water cylinders are already suitable. However, if your current boiler is a combination boiler (combi) and you do not have a hot water tank currently installed, you may find that a solar water system is not compatible with this system. With payments set to start this summer, there has never been a better time to consider installing a solar thermal hot water system on your property.

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