Solar Water Heating

What is Solar Water Heating?

Solar water heating is a good way of helping to cut your energy costs and become eco-friendly. It involves having solar collectors installed on the roof of your property to capture and hold the heat from the sun and to then transfer that in to your water.

There are two types of solar water heating systems available, close-coupled or pump-circulated, and where you need to have the tank situated will depend on which one you choose.

What are the differences in the systems?

If you choose to have close-coupled system then you will need to have the solar collectors placed on your roof with the water storage tank placed directly above them. Getting the hot water in to the tank is done by thermosiphon flow and does not need a pump.

If you have a pump-circulated system fitted then the tank has to be below the collectors and the pump forces the water between the two. Both systems are made to give the maximum amount of hot water they can for a large part of each year. Sometimes, during the winter when there is insufficient heat from the sun, you will need a booster to help heat the water you need; these run either by gas or electricity.

How to prevent heat loss from your system

The main problem with this type of solar system is to limit the amount of heat that is lost by the water once it is in the tank. This can be done by installing the water tank inside an insulated box with a glass lid. This allows the suns heat to help keep the tank hot while the insulated sides bounces any lost heat back to the tank. While this will not prevent all loss of heat it will help to considerably reduce it.

Will my house be suitable for this type of water heating system?

To decide whether solar water heating is suitable for you, you will need to consider several things. You will firstly require enough roof space to site the panels. This is usually around five square meters and will need to be south facing. You will also need to know if the boiler that you have is compatible with this type of heating.

If you have a combination boiler without a water tank then it may not be compatible while a large number of conventional cylinder systems and boilers are.

Although planning permission is not needed to install most solar heating systems in England, it is best to check particularly if you live in a conservation area or a listed building. In any other part of the United Kingdom it is best to check with your local council.

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