Solar Water Heating UK (FAQ)

Solar water heating, also known as solar thermal, uses energy from the sun to heat water to between 60°C to 80°C, this can then be stored in a tank ready for on-demand, domestic use.

It is a cost-effective and climate-friendly way to heat water to meet domestic hot water needs. 

Since the system uses sun rays to produce hot water, it is completely free.

However, realistically a solar water heater can only meet around half of your annual hot water demand in the UK.

How Does Solar Water Heating Work?

The process of solar water heating involves three key parts: the solar collector, a control unit that operates the pump, and a hot water cylinder with two heating coils.

The solar collector absorbs energy from the sun and uses it to heat up a fluid inside.

The controller unit manages the pump, which circulates the fluid and transfers heat to the hot water cylinder.

In situations where additional heating is required, such as during winter or adverse weather, the hot water cylinder with two heating coils comes into play.

It allows for supplementary heating through a conventional boiler or any other renewable energy source.

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Advantages of Water Heating with Solar

1. Back-up Hot Water Supply

Solar water heating offers several advantages, the most significant of which are a constant supply of hot water, lower electricity expenses, and a reduced carbon footprint.

Solar water heating operates continuously throughout the year, but additional heating is required during winter or on cloudy days.

This supplementary heat can be provided by a traditional boiler or a renewable energy source.

The system can fulfil up to 90% of hot water needs in the summer, but only 25% in the winter, highlighting the importance of an effective backup solution.

2. Lower Energy Bills

The Solar water heating system harnesses the power of sunlight to generate hot water, making it a cost-free solution.

This results in a substantial decrease in energy costs.

3. Reduce Your Carbon Emissions

The solar water heating system does not rely on any non-renewable fossil fuels, making it an eco-friendly source of energy.

By using this system, you can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a greener environment.

How Much Does Solar Water Heating Cost?

The cost of a standard water heating system typically ranges from £3,000 to £5,000 and depends on the type of system you choose to install, such as evacuated tube or flat plate collectors.

The savings from a Solar water heating system vary seasonally, with higher savings in the summer when the system meets up to 90% of hot water demand and less frequent top-ups are needed.

Conversely, fewer savings can be expected in the winter, when hot water demand is high and the system only provides 25% of the hot water required, resulting in more frequent top-ups.

On average, a solar water heating system can save up to £95 per year if your existing system is gas, £150 if it’s oil, and up to £200 if it’s LPG.

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Is Solar Water Heating Worth it in the UK?

A solar water heater can provide over half of a household’s annual hot water demand, even in cloudy British weather, leading to significant savings on electricity bills.

This is particularly beneficial in a household with frequent bathing, especially in the summer.

However, the majority of hot water generated by the system is produced in the summer, with only a limited amount available in the winter, requiring supplementary heating from another source.

Due to the cold climate in Britain, the reliance on other heating systems during winter reduces the overall savings on energy bills.

It is important to note that solar water heating panels can only effectively function if a home is south-facing, or at least situated between east and west.

If the house faces north, the panels will not receive enough sunlight to store energy and will be less effective.

Does Solar Water Heating Require Planning Permission in the UK?

In most cases, you do not need to obtain planning permission to install solar water heating panels in your home.

However, it is advisable to check with your local planning office for any exceptions that may apply, such as if your home is a listed building or is located in a conservation area.