With the interest in environmentally friendly sources of energy to power and heat the home, there has been a rise in the popularity of solar powered heating. Solar heating takes the natural rays of the sun and converts them into hot water for your home. This is done by fixing solar panels to your roof.
Panels need to be fitted onto a South facing roof, free of shade and situated at an angle of twenty to fifty degrees. If the panels cannot be situated onto the roof, they may require an aluminium frame to support them at the correct angle.
There are two basic types of solar collector panels; evacuated tubes and flat panels. Evacuated tubes have a liquid filled copper conductor within them. When this liquid heats up, it transfers heat via a manifold to the water. Evacuated tubes are generally more efficient, but also more expensive. Flat panels are more easily integrated into the roof to give a better overall appearance. Water passes through the plate, before being sent to the cylinder.
It is likely also that you will need an additional tank to store the hot water, although some existing tanks may be compatible. A recent development has seen manufactures produce packs which fit into existing boilers. If you are considering solar heating, then you should check to see whether your existing tank is suitable. Water is usually stored in a conventional immersion heater or boiler and warmed further. This part of the process is especially important during the Winter months when heat from the sun is not readily available. It must be remembered that solar heating is likely to provide forty to sixty per cent of your total heating, therefore a back up, or supplementary system is important.
Solar hot water allows you to be more environmentally friendly and also allows you to reduce your carbon footprint. It does not release carbon dioxide or pollutants into the atmosphere. It also allows you to reduce your heating costs, although savings may not be substantial. It is also worth considering that the initial cost can be several thousand pounds.
If you decide that solar hot water is for you then you need to assess the suitability of your home. First of all, you need to decide whether your home receives enough sun to power the panels. You may have to situate the panels on extra mountings to ensure that they face the correct direction. This can mean extra cost. You will then need to find space for an extra cylinder for storing water. Again, you may be able to save money by using your existing tank, if possible. Finally, before you buy anything, you need to find out whether you need planning permission. In most cases this is unlikely to be needed, but it is worth checking, especially if you live in a listed building or a conservation area.
Some of the cost of installation may be offset by grants, if they are available in your area. This may require that the installation is carried out by an approved supplier. Solar heating is also available for commercial properties, such as leisure centres and schools and may provide a way of reducing long term costs.