Solar Thermal Panels (Hot Water)

Solar panels that produce hot water are known as solar thermal collectors or solar hot water collectors. There are a range of technologies which transfer the energy from the sun into solar space heating or hot water cylinder.

Solar Thermal panels can be either Flat-Plate or more commonly Evacuated Tube collectors. China is the leader in their deployment of solar hot water systems and Israel and Cyprus are the per capita leaders in the use of solar water heating systems with over 90% of homes using them. In Ireland 60-70% of the annual domestic hot water demand can be provided by solar panels with temperatures up to 60°C. Solar Thermal installations will perform very satisfactorily provided care is taken to design solar system correctly and you also ensure you're your solar installation is completed to a high standard.

How do Solar Thermal Panels work?

Solar panels heat up water directly. A pump circulates a fluid (antifreeze) from a solar storage tank through a manifold in the solar tube collector. The fluid is then heated by heat from the sun absorbed through the tubes of sealed glass (vacuum tubes) and returns to the tank thus heating the water. Solar Panles are located on the south facing roof where they can receive the most sunlight. The special type of solar hot water tank is always fitted with solar panels and can have two or three coils to tie in with the conventional heating system. For more information on Solar Thermal water heating technology in Ireland please check our FAQ page.

Solar Thermal FAQ What is solar collector?

Solar collector is the device that converts solar energy into heat.

Do solar water heating system work in winter?

Solar water heaters will heat water to a certain degree almost every day of the year. Even in December a solar thermal installation can heat the water up to 20°C. Various factors can influence the amount of water a solar heating system can heat.

How much hot water can a solar water heating system provide?

A solar water heating system can provide between 95-100% of all your hot water needs during the summer. In the spring and autumn, 60-70% of the hot water usage can be provided and in winter this figure is 10-20%. The ideal installation will provide approximately 65-70% of the hot water needs on average annually.

Does Ireland get enough solar energy to make solar water heating viable?

Surprisingly Ireland has the solar energy equivalent to that of Germany, UK and even parts of France. This energy is provided by both direct sunlight (40%) and indirect sunlight (60%). This means that even when the sky is overcast, the sun’s radiation (sunlight) is available at ground level and can be converted into useful heat by solar thermal heating system.

Do I need to use a backup heat source when I am using solar heating?

You do need to use backup heat source with solar. Generally the system comes with twin or triple coil cylinder to produce hot water. One coil is for solar and one or two for another heat source/s. In this way, if the solar panels cannot produce enough heat, the primary heat source will make up the shortfall.

Can I use solar to support my central heating?

Yes, you can increase the amount of solar panels being used, in order to provide backup for heating and hot water for your house. A large storage cylinder is usually used, and the main heat source in conjunction with the solar, will heat this cylinder.

How much will I save if I install a solar water heating system?

The money saved from the installation of a solar water heating system in terms of a lower utility bills depends entirely on how much hot water is required. The majority of homeowners will have saved enough from their electricity bill within roughly five years to cover the costs of the solar water heating system.

Do I need planning permission?

Solar roof systems fall under permitted rights so you do not need planning permission although if you live in a listed building you should contact your local council.

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