About Solar Thermal technology
Solar thermal, often known as solar water heating, is a system which generates hot water from the sun in partnership with an immersion heater or conventional boiler, which is used to back up the system when solar water heating is not available, for example at night.
Solar water heating uses panels installed on the roof of a property, which capture the suns energy and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder, which may also be a hot water boiler or may have an immersion heater installed for back up.
There are two types of solar water heating panels, flat plate collectors which are fixed to the tiles or integrated in to the roof or evacuated tubes.
What are the benefits of solar water heating and what factors should I consider?
Solar thermal produces hot water all year round, although there will be occasions when you will have to supplement it with your hot water boiler or immersion heater, especially the winter months with less daylight and less sunshine.
Sunlight is free so one of the main benefits is that you will enjoy significantly reduced costs for water heating and it is relatively low maintenance one installed. It is also a renewable energy source so the government has put in place an incentive called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to encourage uptake in energy generation from renewable technology. The RHI is available for both domestic and commercial properties.
The main factor to assess when considering installing solar thermal is which way your roof faces and whether it will get much sunlight as this significantly affects solar water heating. If you have a flat roof the panels would be installed on angled frames so that they are best positioned to capture the most sunlight.
You should also consider whether you have the space for a larger solar water tank and will also need to check if your boiler is compatible with solar thermal. Generally you need a hot water tank so a combi boiler would probably not be suitable.