Solar Thermal (Hot Water)

How a Solar Thermal Hot Water System Works

Solar thermal systems are generally comprised of solar panels, a twin coil cylinder, pump and controller station. The panels are usually roof mounted however they can also be mounted on the building walls or on frames on the ground. The solar panels receive free energy from the Sun throughout the year even when it is a cloudy day. Obviously the brighter the day the more energy the panels will receive.

Solar hot water systems work by harnessing the solar energy released by the sun to heat domestic hot water for use in the home. There are two main types of collectors used, vacuum tubes and flat plate. Both systems work with the same underlying principle. The pressurised Glycol (antifreeze) is heated by the collector. This is then pumped round into an heat exchanger (coil) within the lower part of your domestic hot water cylinder. This heat is then dissipated into the domestic hot water and the cooled glycol is then circulated back up to the panel to be reheated. This is a continuous cycle until the desired temperature is achieved. Your existing boiler only works if there is not sufficient heat coming from the solar panels to meet your requirements.

Installing a solar thermal system can drastically reduce your fuel bills, and by installing one of our solar systems you are eligible for the renewable heat incentive. RHI payments are proposed to start for domestic properties summer 2013, however you will be eligible for these payments even if you install your system now.

Types of Solar Panel

Solar thermal panels all work in a similar way but there are two main types of construction.

Evacuated Glass Tube

In this type there are 16 glass tubes about 2 meters (6 feet) long mounted in a frame and manifolded together, with an antifreeze solution running through them. This type is the most efficient at collecting the Sun's energy, in broad terms 2 square metres of glass tube panel is equivalent to 3 square metres of flat panel.

Flat panel

In this type metal tubes are attached to a flat plate. The tubes and plate have a black coating to aid heat absorbtion. These are not as efficient as the glass tube type but are more robust. Flat plates are also larger in size than evacuated tube and thus offer similar levels of heat output.

If you are not sure which to choose you can talk it through with our technical staff and we will be pleased to show you examples of both types of panels.

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