Solar thermal

Sunlight can be used to heat your water and in summer on sunny days, solar thermal systems can provide all of your hot water.

The two main types of installation are flat plate collectors and evacuated tube systems. The flat plate collectors are dark flat boxes with a series of pipes running through them, while in the evacuated tube system the vacuum in the tube minimises heat loss. Generally, both systems heat the water in your tank indirectly, by pumping hot water from the collector pipes through a copper coil.

You need to check the following:

  • Does your roof face south or in a southerly direction?
  • Do you have enough roof space?
  • Is your hot water system suitable?  If you use a hot water cylinder it should be. You may need a replacement or additional cylinder. Note also that some ‘combi’ boilers may not work if they are heating pre-heated water.

Ordinarily you should not need planning permission to fit a solar thermal system, but if your house is situated in a conservation area or is a listed building, you should check with your local planning authority.

The cost of installation is usually between £2,000 and £6,000 dependent on the type of system installed and the number of panels. This could provide savings of around £50 to £80 a year, depending on your original hot water heating system, and newer systems (installed after 2009) should be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive, provided they are installed by a contractor registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Check also to ensure that your installer subscribes to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code scheme.

Further information:

CSE      Solar water heating advice leaflet;

EST      Solar Water Heating.