Solar thermal panels

Renewable energy is constantly evolving and is becoming a very popular choice within households in the UK. Solar panels are recognised as one of the most popular options when it comes to renewable solutions for domestic use.

If you are considering installing solar thermal panels, we have everything you need to know about the fastest growing renewable energy solution on the market.

Solar thermal panels

Solar water heating systems, or solar thermal systems, use energy from the sun to warm water for storage in a hot water cylinder or thermal store.

The term ‘solar panel’ is often used interchangeably to describe the panels that generate electricity and those that generate hot water.

  • Solar panels that produce hot water are known as solar thermal collectors or solar hot water collectors.
  • Solar panels that produce electricity are known as solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. These photovoltaic panels generate electricity when exposed to light.

What are solar thermal panels?

Solar thermal panels harness the power in both direct and indirect sunlight to convert energy into heat and hot water for the home. Our range of solar panels are designed to work alongside existing heating systems, which use a store of hot water in a cylinder. The panels are usually fitted to your roof and connected to your hot water cylinder or to a new hot water cylinder.

If you are wondering ‘are solar panels worth it?’, here are a few benefits of solar thermal panels:

  • Reduced energy bills - Once you have paid for the initial installation, your hot water costs will be reduced as sunlight is free.
  • Hot water throughout the year - Although you will need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater during the winter months, the system will work all year round.
  • Lower carbon footprint - Solar hot water is a green, renewable heating system and can reduce your CO2 emissions.

How do solar thermal panels work?

Solar thermal hot water systems work by collectors on the roof absorbing the radiated energy from the sun. This energy heats the fluid, which is pumped around a sealed circuit, through the collectors and into a coil within a specially designed hot water cylinder. The hot water is then stored in the cylinder until it's needed.

Types of solar thermal panels

There are two common types of solar thermal panels:

  1. Flat plate collectors - These are the simpler out of the two forms of technology and are cheaper per square metre, but you need more to get the same amount of heat.
  2. Evacuated tubes - They are useful if you only have room for a small panel, but you’ll pay just as much for the same output. These can be the more efficient out of the two.

Most solar thermal panel systems are designed to provide about half of your hot water demand from the sun, with the rest coming from your existing central heating or immersion heater. 

What you should consider before installing solar thermal panels:

  • You may need planning permission to fit solar thermal panels to your roof - it is worth checking at the start.
  • You will need around five square metres of roof space which faces East to West through South and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. 
  • If you do not already have a dedicated solar cylinder, then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil.
  • Will your boiler work with solar thermal panels? If your boiler is a combination boiler (most commonly known as a combi boiler) and you don't currently have a hot water tank, a solar hot water system may not be compatible.

Our expert, MCS certified engineers will carry out the work to the highest standard.

If you're thinking about how you could make a difference to your carbon footprint and are considering domestic solar panels, then we think solar thermal panels would be the perfect solution for you.

All our renewable engineers are MCS Certified. MCS is an industry-led quality assurance scheme, which demonstrates the quality and reliability of approved products and installation companies.

Want to know how much solar panels cost? For more information on solar thermal panels or to request a free, no obligation quote, call Swale Heating on free phone on 0800 731 33 44 or complete the contact form on the right-hand side.