Solar Hot Water Hot water is one of life's necessities and perhaps one of the most difficult areas to cut back and conserve, no matter how determined you may be to reduce your carbon footprint. Solar thermal water heating systems offer the perfect compromise by enabling you to heat your water using green, renewable energy.
Solartech Installations Ltd install solar thermal systems from the leading manufacturers, these systems are amongst the most efficient, providing up to 70% of your annual hot water. Solar collectors ensure you have heated water all year round and are largely unaffected by extremes of ambient temperature, even in the depths of winter. As your solar thermal water heating system can work in tandem with your existing water heating arrangements, there's never any danger you'll be left without hot water. For domestic properties the solar hot water cylinder normally replaces the existing hot water cylinder
Advantages of Solar Thermal
Reduce your hot water heating bills
No need for planning permission
Ideal for the British climate
Works even on cloudy days (dawn till dusk all year round even in winter)
Supplies up to 70% of your annual hot water needs
Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
With the introduction of the Governments Renewable Heat Incentive coming in next year, not only will you have reduced energy bills but you will receive an annual payment. The precise details of this scheme are being finalized by Government but will be similar to the Feed-in tariff for solar PV. We believe it will be 19.2p for 7 years and will come into place spring 2014.
The principle is very simple: Water heating works in a similar way to leaving a hosepipe in the sun. Solar thermal generates renewable heated water using solar panels (known as “collectors”) fitted at an optimal angle on a roof. Solar heat warms the fluid, usually anti-freeze, in the collectors and this is then pumped to heat water stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater tops up the water to the temperature set by the cylinder's thermostat (>60°C).
Evacuated tubes use a glass tube with a vacuum inside and copper pipes running through the centre. The copper pipes are all connected to a common manifold which is then connected to a slow flow circulation pump that pumps heat transfer fluid through a coil in the storage cylinder below, thus heating the hot water during the day.
The hot water can be used at night or the next day due to the insulation of the cylinder.
The evacuation tube systems are superior as they can extract the heat out of the air on a humid day and don't need direct sunlight. Due to the vacuum inside the glass tube, the total efficiency in all areas is higher and there's better performance when the sun is not at an optimum angle - such as when it's early in the morning or in the late afternoon. The only downside is that they must be installed on the roof rather than in the roof, but the upside is that they are more resistant and cheaper to repair in cold weather conditions.
The heat transfer fluid passes directly through the flat plate collectors copper tubes and picks up heat generated from the copper fins, which are directly mounted to the copper tubes.
The collectors are linked together and then connected to a circulation pump (pump station), which in turn pushes the heat transfer fluid through a heat exchanging coil within the cylinder.
The circulation pump only starts when a temperature differential is achieved between the collector and cylinder temperature sensors.
Maintenance costs for solar water heating systems are generally very low. Most solar water heating systems come with a five-year or ten-year warranty and require little maintenance. Once fitted your installer should leave written details of any maintenance checks that you can carry out from time to time, ensuring everything is working properly.
Perhaps the most important thing you can check for yourself from time to time is whether there are any leaks. If there are any leaks of anti-freeze (even if you can’t see any liquid) this will have a strong smell. If you notice this you should contact us. In general you should keep an eye on your system to check that it is doing what it has been designed to do. If you are not getting hot water or the solar pipework is cold (when the pump is running) on warm, sunny days then again you should contact us. For peace of mind some installation companies offer an annual service check.
You should have your system checked more thoroughly by an accredited installer every 2-5 years, or as specified by your installer. It is likely that after this period of time the anti-freeze that is used to protect your system in the winter months will need to topped up or be replaced as it breaks down over time reducing the performance of your system. Anti-freeze lasts better if the solar water system is used throughout the year and not left unused during the warmest weeks of the year. See our maintenance page for costs on new antifreeze. The other thing that should be checked is the pump. In a well maintained system, pumps can last for ten years plus and usually cost around £90 to replace.