Solar Thermal Hot Water or Solar water heating systems use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. A conventional boiler or immersion heater is then used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.
Solar Thermal Hot Water or Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun to work alongside your conventional water heater. The technology is well developed with a large choice of equipment to suit many applications.
For information on the cost and saving for Solar Thermal please visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
What best suits your needs depends on a range of factors, including the area of south facing roof, the existing water heating system (e.g. some combi boilers aren't suitable) and your budget.
A competent professional MCS Certified installer should assess your situation and discuss with you the best configuration to meet your needs.
Solar water heating can be used in the home or for larger applications, such as swimming pools.
For domestic hot water there are three main components: solar panels, a heat transfer system, and a hot water cylinder. Solar panels - or collectors - are fitted to your roof. They collect heat from the sun's radiation. The heat transfer system uses the collected heat to heat water. A hot water cylinder stores the hot water that is heated during the day and supplies it for use later.
Preferably you will need 3-4m2 of southeast to southwest facing roof receiving direct sunlight for the main part of the day. You'll also need space to locate an additional water cylinder if required.
The typical installation cost for a domestic system is £3,000 - £5,000.
Solar hot water systems generally come with a 10-year warranty and require very little maintenance. A yearly check by the householder and a more detailed check by a professional installer every 3-5 years should be sufficient (consult your system supplier for exact maintenance requirements).
The estimated costs can often be quickly covered by the Renewable Heat Incentive due to be introduced in 2011 which can be offered by Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS Accredited) Installers who offer MCS Accredited Solar Thermal Panels.