The joy of solar panels and evacuated tubes installationsBy Solar Stu October 31, 2011
Solar panels including evacuated tubes, can provide over half of a home’s hot water requirements, according to recent field trials with low carbon and green energy technologies.Domestic tariff levels, under the coalition government’s £860m renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme, are not being announced until April 2012, but will be on the same levels as larger-scale, commercial solar heating systems and householders could still expect feed-in tariffs payments of around £96 per annum.
The RHI payments, which are similar to those paid to owners of PV (photovoltaic) solar panels and wind turbines under the feed-in tariff scheme, will be launched soon after, and will encourage homeowners to install solar water heating panels and use the sun’s energy to heat water using flat panels or evacuated tubes on the roof of their property.
The system works by heating glycol (anti-freeze), which is then pumped to the hot water cylinder in the home and can be stored until the hot water is required.
The Energy Saving Trust said it was “impressed by how well solar heating panels were working in the UK”.
Stuart Lovatt, the founder of Heat my Home adds “The need for quality systems, however, has been highlighted in the field study, which found that some systems performed better than others. This is something we have always warned people about in the past from a similar study done back in 2001.”
The difference in performance from the best systems -usually evacuated tubes, which provide around 60% of hot water needs -could plummet to 9% for the worst ones.
Solar panels are a proven technology
This is now a technology proven to work, and it works well in the United Kingdom.
A major factor in a system’s performance figures is how well-insulated hot water tanks and pipes are. Once the water is heated by solar power, there is a need to prevent cooling, so a quality, solar-ready hot water cylinder is essential. However, not all solar companies upgrade the cylinder and this omission will affect the overall performance of the system.
The market for solar heating panels in the UK has grown each year despite the economic downturn. There are an estimated 140,000 homes with solar heating panels in the UK currently.
This latest research demonstrates that homes with solar heating panels or evacuated tubes really can benefit, provided their installation has been correctly installed, and the household understands how to use it to its best advantage.
Solar panels, in general, are a fantastically cost-effective way for this country to reduce its demand for more expensive, imported energy. As 47% of energy usage is domestic, solar technology really can help to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint while encouraging other countries to follow our lead.
Unless we all reduce our dependency on increasingly expensive fossil fuels, homes and businesses will continue to pay the price, with soaring future bills.
The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive will provide households with a real cash incentive to help families make the switch to cleaner energy with which to heat their homes.
Welcome to the solar panel century!