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Solar heating panels and installations

"Use the sun to generate hot water with solar heating panels. Also known as flat-plates, these are popular with households who have a hot water storage tank that require huge amounts of electricity to run. People have been astute at reducing energy demands with this technology."

Quotes from installers. Check your roof »

In a nutshell.

Flat-plate panels, commonly known as solar heating panels, add a supplemental heating source for your hot water tank.

Installing solar heating panels is like converting a car into a hybrid running on LPG. After the initial investment, your home will operate efficiently and cheaply for the next 30 years while additionally extending the life of your boiler.

From March to October your boiler will not need to switch on, and in winter, this technology will reduce your boilers running time. In addition, we modernise and bring your whole system up to current building regulation standards.


Size: 2206 x 1205 x 80 mm.
Aperture Area: 2.15 m2.
Weight: 55 kg.
Glazing: 4mm toughened low iron glass.
Standard pressure: 3 bar.

Flat-plate panels. Why not?

We don't recommend flat-plate today, because installing PV solar panels can working alongside an Immersun or iBoost heating converter to heat up your hot water tank using excess electricity.

The benefits of this type of set-up over a standard solar heating set-up is the additional benefits of generating electricity and generating a revenue with the solar PV incentive.

Quotes from installers. PV to heating converters »

Questions about solar heating panels

The benefits of solar heating technology:

Thermodynamic panels work night and day, although these aren't eligible for the current incentives.

Independent testing has concluded that solar tubes perform best in the UK climate and flat-plate panels come a close second.

Quotes from installers. Learn about incentives

Roof orientation?

Most homes are suitable, if you have a S/SE/SW or east/west facing roof space, then probably. Your internal plumbing set up will need to be checked for compatibility, and this can be done through our free home survey and "get a quote" service.

No planning permission needed in most cases.

Quotes from installers. Check your roof orientation

How does it work well in the UK?

The UK receives 60% of the sun's radiation compared with the equator. Each square metre of the UK receives between 900 to 1,300 kWh annually of the sun's radiation each year.

Solar radiation map of the UK

What does a system cost?

The cost of a solar panel system depends on several factors, usually based on water tank sizes. A property survey and consultation appointment can be arranged through our "get a quote" service.

Installation quotes

Incentives for solar heating panels.

The 'Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme' is a feed-in tariff which pays a fixed amount per kWh of heat generated. Those who install renewable heat equipment, such as panel technologies and air/ground source heat pumps will benefit from this additional 8.5 pence per kWh incentive payment, giving an average of 8% return on investment.

How does it work?

1. Evacuated tubes heat up due to the sun's short-wave radiation output converting to long-wave radiation.

2. The controller controls a variable speed pump based on temperature outputs.

3. The circulation pump circulates a special fluid through the hot collector and through a heat exchanger in your hot water cylinder; the heat is transferred to your cylinder.

4. It is then delivered to the cylinder/tank which heats.

5. System shuts down automatically when, not in use, or when the collector temperature is lower than the cylinder.

6. Your collector will store up heat even on cloudy days, so when the controller detects useable heat it will start up again.

7. You now have lots of free hot water to use day or night.

Schematics for solar heating panels

What about combi boilers?

Combi boilers are possible but, please bear in mind, that we will need to re-install a hot water tank. Most homes with combi's will not have the space to install a domestic sized hot water tank. If your able to re-install a hot water tank, then yes an installation may be possible.

Can I install myself?

In most cases no, however, but having Part P electrical and plumbing skills, then it may be possible to install in a diy capacity. DIY flat-plate panels and evacuated tubes kits are available.

The science bit

When radiation or energy hits an object, the short-wave radiation is converted to long-wave radiation and this process creates heat.

Does my roof have to face directly south?

South is the optimum and southeast and southwest are acceptable.

Why will I need to update my hot water cylinder?

Very simply, old copper hot water tanks run extremely efficiently when new, but after many years of use, lime scale will reduce the efficiency by a large percentage. When installing, we will also install a new, modern super-efficient tank, to get the most out of your system.

"Adding a panel to an old tank would be like converting your car
to LPG and running it on semi flat tyres"

Unless of course, you already have a compatible tank (twin-coils) then a tank change will be required.

Does it contribute towards my central heating?

This depends on the type of set up you install. We would need to survey your home to see if our heat management system is suitable. In most cases, panels can contribute to your central heating, but not all installation companies offer this technology.

How long will it take you to install?

Two or three days in most cases.

Getting installed

1. If you can face the tubes roughly towards the sun. South, southwest or southeast roofs are ideal. Even east or west roofs usually offer 85% of the performance.

2. If your hot water cylinder is twin-coiled. It does not matter if you don't as we can install a compatible and more efficient tank as part of your installation.

3. Listed buildings, conservation area homes, national parks may need consent. Please consult with your local planning officer.

How long will I be without running water?

Normally only 4-5 hours.

My entire heating system needs replacing, can you help?

Yes, a surveyor will advise on modernising with your current installation.

Does this technology work on cloudier days?

This rather depends on the technology installed and the density of the cloud. Flat-plate panels do not contribute as much as evacuated tubes in these conditions. In moderate cloud density, the sun's energy can still be used. With, heavy dark, dense cloud cover, probably not. Use your solar powered calculator out on a cloudy day and it will still work.

How much CO2 will my I save?

Around half a tonne each year, but is dependent on how much hot water one use's and how your system currently heats your water at present.

Do we get enough sunshine to really make a difference?

Yes, flat panels are specifically developed for the UK climate and allow the inside of the tubes or panels to get very hot regardless of the outside air temperature.

What temperatures can I expect?

A good proportion of the year your water will be heated above 60° Celcius.

Is there a danger that the water could get too hot?

No, the systems never reach above 85° Celcius.

How does the glass clean itself?

The glass is coated with a microscopically thin layer of titanium dioxide. When ultraviolet light falls on the glass, the layer reacts with organic matter in the dirt, breaking it down into water can carbon dioxide. The dirt takes readily to water. Thus, when the rain arrives, it spreads uniformly across the surface and the loosened dirt is washed away rather than streaking.


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