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Breakdown of annual yield.
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How does this work?
Evacuated solar tubes are the best performing system, but flat-plate panels are popular because they can be deemed to be more aesthetically pleasing to some people with the option to be integrated in the roof like a "Velux" window.
All panel types only need a check-up or maintenance service every 3-4 years, but this can be integrated into your installation deal with your installation company.
A larger tank can be fitted on installation day to update your existing tank with a more modern and efficient type.
Once installed, your system will be at your service for 25-30 years in the UK climate.
Evacuated tubes work alongside your existing boiler.
Evacuated tubes work on the same basic principle of how your car feels warmer during the day. Under the right circumstances, heat builds up and it is this principle that solar tubes use, but much more efficiently than your family car.
This super-efficiency is created by vacuum technology tubes that collect and retain heat through solar radiation that hit our roofs every day of the year.
The principle of solar heating has been around throughout human history and can even be used to sterilise water. If you leave unsterilised water in a plastic bottle for a few hours in the sun, then the sun's radiation will sterilise that water - making it safer to drink.
Today, with the advantage of modern technology, we can use this same principle to heat our hot water tanks or thermal stores. Commonly known as a solar collector, the efficiency of this technology is also boosted by a clever management system that continually monitors and makes adjustments depending upon the level of heating.
This type of system is so efficient at its job that it has to be restricted to temperatures of 85 degrees Celsius. And, if that weren't amazing in itself, the system works well on some midwinter and snowy days too. Contrary to popular belief, solar heating panel's ability to work is not connected to the outside air temperature. The collecting glass tubes trap and store radiation waves directly from the sun, and it's this ability that makes them ideal for northern European climates.
From my experience, evacuated tubes work best alongside a conventional boiler and will greatly increase the lifespan of that boiler as a result of reduced usage and can easily save you a tank full of oil annually.
Now this is where it gets interesting because of the increasing cost of traditional fuels, a solar tube system installed today, will still be providing you with big savings and free hot water for the next three decades if properly serviced.
Now this system is not for everyone, and one of the problems encountered today is with people who have had a Combi boiler installed in recent years and lost their storage tank. If this is your situation, then I would recommend photovoltaic solar panels instead.
Most plumbers today would recommend a Combi boiler installation, but for no other reason than, it's an easy installation for them to do. Looking more long-term, solar heating technology will be far more useful to you.
I look at the bigger picture like this. The long-term trend for traditional fuel is predominantly upward and this is why your energy company cannot price fix for any longer than two years.
If or when the fuel to power a Combi (no matter how efficient) becomes too unaffordable for most, my family can at least enjoy a lovely warm shower for free.
"Feel the pride."
Founder of Heat My Home.