Solar Thermal Faq’s

1: Is my roof suitable?
2: Do I need planning permission?
3: How much does a solar thermal system cost?
4: How much hot water will a solar thermal system produce?
5: Flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes?
6: Are there any government tariffs?
7: Will I need a new cylinder?
8: Will my existing plumbing be disturbed?
9: Can solar thermal operate with central heating?
10: How long will the installation take?
11: Will scaffolding be required?
12: Can solar thermal operate with a combi boiler?
13: Does a solar thermal system require any maintenance?
14: What is the life of a solar thermal system?
15: What requirements should a company have installing a solar thermal system?

 Answers to Solar Thermal FAQ’s


1: Is my roof suitable?
A sloping roof is suitable if it is between west facing and east facing, the most effective direction would be south facing, with little or no shading. The roof should be checked to make sure it is strong enough to take solar panels.

A flat roof could be suitable as long as it has little or no shading and the solar panel frames can be fixed to the roof.

2: Do I need planning permission?
Recent changes in planning mean that most solar panel installations are allowed under permitted development as long as they do not project more than 200mm above the surface.
Flat roofs or houses, non residential, conservation area, world heritage or listed building could require planning permission.

3: How much does a solar thermal system cost?
An average solar thermal system would cost around £4,800

4: How much hot water will a solar thermal system produce?
A solar thermal system would produce around 70%of your hot water requirements, all of your hot water in the summer, not so much in the winter.

5: Flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes?
Proponents of each system claim that there systems are most efficient, and certainly the flat plate collectors are a lot more sophisticated than they use to be and overall are probably less likely to give any problems?
The evacuated tubes probably have the edge in efficiency but you will probably prefer the look of a particular type of system?

6: Are there any government tariffs?
At present there is a government grant of £300 per installation, and in the future there is talk of a tariff for every kWh of heat produced, there is no clear mandate for this.

7: Will I need a new cylinder?
Usually you will require a new cylinder, these are twin coil cylinders with the hot water coming from the collector and running through the bottom coil and water from the boiler running through the top coil, these cylinders are always very well insulated.

8: Will my existing plumbing be disturbed?
Installing a new solar thermal system should be a fairly simple operation involving changing your existing cylinder to a twin coil cylinder and some minor plumbing to connect the collector and reconnect your primary heating source.

9: Can solar thermal operate with central heating?
In theory solar thermal could operate with central heating, but you would need a lot of tubes or collectors, this would be fine in the winter but there would be a huge amount of hot water to deal with in the summer.
Generally solar thermal is only used for hot water.

10: How long will the installation take?
A solar thermal installation would take between one and two days.

11: Will scaffolding be required?
 For most installations scaffolding will be required, as this is necessary for the safety and practical help for the workmen on site and also to comply with health and safety regulations.

12: Can solar thermal operate with a combi boiler?
It is possible to install solar thermal with a combi boiler. There are a couple of options for doing this:
If the boiler will accept preheated water, then we install a cylinder in the pipework before the water goes through the boiler. So the solar brings temperature up and the boiler then tops it up.
We can use a thermal store and have mains pressure hot water heated by the solar and the boiler heating the store as though it was its only radiator, this way the solar can also contribute to space heating as well. The boiler would need to have one outlet on the hot water side for testing.
There are a number of other alternatives depending on occupancy, size of system etc. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to solar thermal.

13: Does a solar thermal system require any maintenance?
The expected life of a solar thermal system is about 25 years, and should be serviced every couple of years probably the same time as your regular boiler service, checking the pressure, pumps and any moving parts.

15: What requirements should a company have installing a solar thermal system?
Any company installing solar PV for the customer to receive the feed in tariffs must be MCS (micro generation scheme) registered, this is given by an independent body such as corgi after the company has met certain requirements.
The installation company must also use equipment registered under the MCS scheme.

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