Renewable Living | Warm Roofs, Solar PV, Wood Pellet Boilers

FAQ – Solar Thermal Panels

solar thermal RHI

Solar Thermal panels

How does Solar Thermal work?

The panels on your roof collect the energy from the sun and use that energy heat the Glycol within the collectors. This Hot Glycol is pumped around the closed Solar system indirectly via heat exchangers in your hot water cylinder and heats the water.

Is my house suitable?

As long as your roof doesn’t face north and have a roof area of at least 4m2. If your roof faces west, south-west, south or south-east, the chances are your home is perfect for solar thermal panels. You’ll also need space for a hot water cylinder – in an airing cupboard, or your loft perhaps. Still a free no obligation survey would be recommended.

Do I need planning permission?

A Solar thermal installation does not require planning permission as it comes under permitted development. Listed buildings or those in an area of outstanding natural beauty may require planning permission. If in doubt, contact your local planning office.

I have a combi boiler – can I still have a solar thermal system?

There is a lot more work involved, but it is possible to integrate a Solar Thermal System with a Combi boiler. You will need a hot water cylinder.

Do I need to change my hot water cylinder?

It is generally advisable to replace your old less efficient cylinder with a more modern twin coil. Your existing boiler is connected to the primary coil and the solar system is connected to the secondary coil. Your boiler will only be used if there was not sufficient solar energy during the day to heat the cylinder.

What is the difference between flat plates and evacuated tubes?

Evacuated tubes have better efficiency than Flat plates, but the Flat plates tend to be the preferred choice with regards to aesthetics and cost. We use the Solar panels from Sunsystems which are Solar Keymarked and come with a 10 year warranty. Evacuated tubes have a better efficiency and the tubes can be replaced individually rather than changing a whole system if something is faulty. We use the Solarfire evacuated tube from Green Phoenix which comes with a 10 year warranty.

Will a solar thermal system still generate hot water in the winter?

Over the winter months, your system will still pre-heat your water, but you’ll still need to use in conjunction with your existing heating system.

Do solar thermal systems need any maintenance?

This is a minimal maintenance technology. The only element that needs to be looked at is the Glycol within the system. This should be replaced with Gycol every 4-5 years. This is a quick job and is something that can be arranged with your installer at the date of installation.

Are there any grants available?

MCS-registered domestic solar thermal systems will also receive a payment from the government for every unit of heat they generate. This will be called the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. For more details on how solar schemes can work, or how solar can with biomass, please contact us using the contact form.

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