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SOLAR HOT WATER SYSTEMS

...using the Sun to heat your water for free

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Questions & Answers

 

Below are some common questions that we get asked by our customers along with the answers.

If you have any other questions, please contact us we are always pleased to discuss and advise you.

 


 

How Do Solar Systems Work?

diagram showing how a solar hot water system works

 

 

Solar hot water systems use energy from the sun to heat domestic hot water. They can also be used to heat swimming pools and energy reservoirs.

A solar system has three main components. The roof panel which absorbs the sun's energy, the hot water storage cylinder and the control system which contains the circulating pump.

Water is used in the same way as in a normal boiler system to transfer heat from the roof panel into the hot water cylinder.

 

 


 

Is my house suitable for Solar Hot Water ?

Solar hot water systems are very adaptable and can be set up to fit virtually any house, you do not have to have a sloping South facing roof. Each of our systems is specially tailored to fit the building, its occupants and their hot water needs.

Different brackets are used to hold the roof panels depending on your type of roof cover, slates, concrete tiles, clay tiles etc.

A South facing roof angled at about 50 degrees is ideal, but other roofs can be used. If you have a pitched roof that faces east and west, then a panel is fitted to either side. The control system takes heat from one or both of the panels depending on their temperature. In the morning the east side provides most of the heat and the west side takes over in the afternoon.

Should you have a flat roof, a panel can be fitted which works in the horizontal position, or a frame can be fitted to tilt the panel up at an angle to catch the sun better.

Panels can also be fitted to a wall or on the ground if you have an un-shaded position available.

 


 

How does it work with my existing heating system ?

functional diagram of a solar hot water system

 

A solar hot water system needs a programmer, (controller) similar to that on a central heating system. This is set up to work with your heating system. When the energy from the solar system is insufficient to heat the hot water to the temperature you require, then the boiler is switched on to bring the hot water tank up to temperature.

During the initial survey I will check your existing heating system. If it is elderly and inefficient I can advise you on the best way to improve it. The solar system can work independently from the existing heating system provided the existing time controls and thermostats are working properly.

 

 

 


 

How much will a solar heating system save on my energy bills ?

50 per cent savings on hot water costs

How much you save will depend on how much water you use. A solar system should save at least 50% of your hot water costs.

The amount you can save will depend on a number of factors, the temperature you would like the water, when you use most of it, the size of your hot tank and if you use a lot of hot water overnight.

Some people do not need top-ups from their gas boiler during the summer months as the solar system provides all their hot water needs. It does depend very much how you use your hot water.

It is possible to save 70% of your hot water costs with careful planning and having the solar system designed to match your needs. My own household would spend around £300 annually on hot water without our solar system.

Once the system is installed, it costs virtually nothing to run, the suns energy is always free.

 


 

How much will a solar hot water system cost me ?

Each system is designed individually to suit the house and the predicted hot water needs. Scaffolding may be needed to give safe access to the roof. So only a very rough price guide can be given before your house is surveyed. For a family of four with a fairly ordinary house it will cost between £3500 + VAT and £4500 + VAT. ( Note that VAT is only 5% on solar systems ).

This assumes a new solar hot water cylinder will be fitted in place of the existing cylinder. It is possible to retain the existing cylinder and fit a solasyphon to it which transfers the heat into the cylinder. Although this is cheaper than fitting a new solar cylinder, it is more inefficient. You lose the advantage of having a larger capacity to store hot water as it is heated up during the daytime.

Most systems take between three and five days to fit. The Hot tank (cylinder) normally takes one day to change so you will not be without hot water overnight.

 

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