A solar thermal system uses solar panels to heat water rather than generate electricity like solar PV. It works by harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it into heat, in conjunction with a boiler, collector or immersion heater to generate hot water. The hot water is stored for use later in a cylinder and can easily provide a large proportion of your home or business’s hot water usage directly from solar energy.

By using the unlimited resource that the sun provides, installing a solar thermal hot water system could reduce your annual bills by 10% or more. As well as allowing you to benefit financially from the government funded Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Heating hot water makes up around 15%-20% of a household’s energy bill, which can be more if water is heated using electricity.

Solar thermal systems are very well suited for homes and businesses with high levels of hot water use, particularly when there is a large requirement between spring and autumn. As a green, renewable heating system, solar thermal systems can Lower your carbon footprint whilst also helping to reduce your energy bills and protecting you against future price rises.

Illustration of a community Solar Thermal installation

Other sector illustrations are also available.

Benefits of Solar Thermal

Frequently Asked Questions

Solar Thermal is ideal for people with high spring, summer or autumn time water demand, such as shower blocks at campsites and holiday accommodation. It is also excellent for businesses that might have very high demand in short windows, such as dairy farmers or food processors wanting hot water for washdown.

A Solar Thermal system should provide around 60% of hot water requirements for an average domestic household.

As a rule of thumb, work on 1000kWh per year per kW system. For example a 3kW system would produce approximately 3,000kWh of heat per year. To see what that means for you, check your electricity bill or EPC to see how much energy is being used to heat hot water and this will provide an estimate of what you can generate yourself.

Most systems are roof mounted. There are options for ‘on-roof’ or ’in-roof’ installation. In-roof installations are tidier and allow the flow and return pipes to be hidden in the roof. In-roof systems generally work more efficiently due to minimising wind chill on exposed pipes. On-roof systems are cheaper to install and most commonly used for retro-fit installations.

Yes, for domestic installations. The payments are based on the hot water figure on the property Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Payments are made quarterly over a seven-year period. The Domestic RHI scheme finishes in March 2022. The scheme for non-Domestic RHI closes in March 2021.

We recommend a preventative maintenance check every two years to ensure the system is working to optimum efficiency.

Solar Thermal panels on a roof of a residential house is usually considered within permitted development rights, so there is usually no need to apply for planning. If you have a listed property or are located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a Conservation Area you should check first with your planner.

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