Solar hot water systems are a sustainable way to harness the free energy from the sun to heat your home, all year round.
It won’t come as a surprise that, here at Buildpass, we love digging deeper into the many different sustainable energy sources. And we love sharing our discoveries with you.
Our hope is that, in addition to the work we do ‘on the ground’ supporting homeowners and designers, we can help raise awareness of the abundance of options to live a more sustainable life.
Today, we are exploring Solar Hot Water systems.
What is a solar water heating system?
Solar water heatings takes the energy from the sun, and repurposes it to heat domestic water. You might hear this referred to as ‘solar thermal’ , but both are the same thing. This form of energy uses solar panels to absorb the heat from the sun and channel it straight into the water you use in your home.
Of course, the amount of heat this provides will differ depending on the season. On a glorious, sunny day, it can provide all the heat you need to for hot water. Step into the winter and the output will be considerably less. However, you can always use a conventional boiler or immersion heater if you need to top it up.
How does a solar hot water system work?
We’ve already mentioned their need for solar panels (collectors), which will be fitted to your roof. Once they have collected heat from the sun, they heat the water that is stored in a hot water cylinder.
Generally, there are two types of solar hot water panels:
- Evacuated tubes: these are a bank of glass tubes fit onto the roof tiles
- Flat plate collectors: these can be fixed on the roof tiles or integrated into the actual roof
In addition to the collectors, you will also need to route insulated pipes from the collectors to your hot water cylinder.
How much does a solar water heating system cost?
On average, a system for a domestic property will cost between £3,000 and £5,000: the size of the home and whether or you need a new hot water cylinder will impact the price. However, this is not a set in stone price, and it’s always advantageous to get in touch with a few different suppliers for quotes based on your property.
Although this is a large upfront cost, it’s a worthwhile investment: a household could save up to £55 a year when replacing gas heating or £80 a year when replacing electric immersion heating. Systems fitted by MCS accredited installers may also be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive payments.
What are the benefits?
- Reduced energy bills. As mentioned, once you’ve paid for the initial installation your hot water costs will be considerably reduced. After all, sunlight is free!
- Hot water all year round. Solar hot water systems work throughout the year (though you may need to heat the water further during the winter).
- Low maintenance costs and high durability. This differs from other renewable energy sources, and their warranty averages between 5 and 10 years.
- Lower carbon footprint. The most important point of all: solar hot water is green, it’s a renewable heating system and it will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
Is solar hot water for me?
Unfortunately, not everyone can truly benefit from solar hot water. There are a few things you need to consider, first.
- Is your property properly situated to collect sun energy? You’ll need approximately five square metres of roof space which faces East to West through South and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. Note that the panels don’t have to be mounted on a roof, if you don’t have access to that type of space. You can also fix them to a frame on a flat roof or hang from a wall.
- Do you have enough space for a large hot water cylinder? If you don’t already have a dedicated solar cylinder, you will either need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a new cylinder with a solar heating coil.
- Is your current boiler compatible with solar hot water? Hopefully, the answer to this one will be yes, as most are. But, if you have a combination boiler and you don’t have a hot water tank, a solar hot water system will likely not be compatible.
How do I find the best solar hot water system?
There are a lot of options on the market, and finding the right system for your personal circumstances can be pricey and snap up all of your precious time. Which is where we can help. As energy and sustainability consultants, we can support you in finding the perfect solution.