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Solar Thermal Panels are primarily used to provide Daily Hot Water (DHW); however, they can also be used to heat your property. Solar Thermal Panels are distinct from Solar PV (Photo Voltaic) Panels, which are used to generate electricity. Solar PV Panels are presented as a separate Product Category on the Enerfina website.
Solar Thermal (Hot Water) Systems are the most popular form of solar energy used in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The system is typically connected to a Dual Coil Hot Water Cylinder (where only Hot Water is required) and to a large Buffer Tank where Space Heating is also required. Solar Thermal Systems can provide around 70% of a household's Hot Water requirements during the course of the year.
The average Payback period on a Solar Thermal System is estimated at 5-8 years. Most of the savings are achieved during the late Spring, Summer and early Autumn period, when property owners are not obliged to switch on their main heating system (oil / gas / wood pellet), simply to have Hot Water, as this is provided free of charge by their Solar System. Given that Solar Systems can last up to 20-25 years, customers can expect to make considerable savings during the life-time of their system.
There are three main types of Solar Thermal Panel available:
Flat Plate Solar Panels are the traditional Solar Thermal Panels, consisting of an Absorber Plate behind which runs a copper piping structure containing a liquid known as glycol. Once this heats up the Thermal Energy is transferred via a Heat Exchanger. Technological advances continue to be made with Flat Plate Solar Systems and they have the advantage of being robust, reliable and require minimal maintenance. Flat Plate Solar Panels can be installed both "On Roof" and "In Roof". "In Roof" installations require additional materials such as Roof Flashings to ensure that the Solar Panels are fully sealed and watertight, within the roof structure.
Solarfocus CPC Flat Plate Solar Panel
Evacuated Tube Solar Panels consist of a number of Vacuum filled tubes (typically 20-30) made from a special glass, with a copper structure present in each tube, and connected to a Manifold. They are typically more efficient than Flat Plate Solar Panels (around 10-15%, depending on the manufacturer). This means that a smaller area of Solar Panels will achieve the same level of heat output.
There are two main types of Evacuated Tube Solar Panels available: (a) Direct Flow, and (b) Heat Pipe. While the Direct Flow system consists of one large, integrated circuit, in a Heat Pipe system, each individual Evacuated Tube has its own circuit. Some Heat Pipe systems benefit from a Temperature Control feature on each individual Tube, in addition to the standard System Controls.
Viessmann Vitosol 300-T Evacuated Tube Solar Panel
To maximise efficiency, Solar Panels should ideally be mounted on a South / South-East / South-West facing roof, away from shadows from trees, surrounding buildings or chimneys. This enables the panels to receive as much direct solar radiation as possible. Solar Panels will also work on East or West facing roofs. For example, an East-West installation can involve installing Solar Panels on both the East and West facing roofs.
With regard to the Angle of Installation, the Solar Panel / Collector is most effective when the sun is at a 90° angle with the plane of the Collector. However, the solar angle changes throughout the day and the year. On average, the optimum inclination angle for Solar Panels in the United Kingdom and Ireland is around 30-40°, which fortunately, is also the normal pitch of a roof in this part of Europe.
(i) Easy to install in a New Build or to integrate into an existing property (Renovation / Retrofit).
(ii) Up to 70% of your property’s Hot Water needs available from your Solar System.
(iii) Very efficient, typically 70-80%, based on the Aperture Area of the Solar Panel.
(iv) Environmentally friendly, renewable energy source.
(v) Lifestyle Benefits – ample volumes of hot water, so you can have a bath without thinking about the cost!
(vi) Affordable renewable energy technology with a relatively short Payback Period of 5-8 Years.
(vii) Well established technology with a long lifespan and minimal maintenance.
(i) Does your property have a roof with a Southerly orientation, or with an East / West orientation?
(ii) How many people reside in the property?
(iii) Are you considering Solar Thermal Panels for Daily Hot Water (most popular) or for Central Heating, or both?
The Renewable Heat Incentive offers an excellent financial incentive to install Solar Thermal Panels in your home or property.