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Solar Thermal installation
Solar Thermal Energy is the term for harnessing solar energy to provide thermal energy (heat). STE is different from and much more efficient than photovoltaics, which convert solar energy directly into electricity.

Typical households see a saving of between 12% and 17% of annual fuel costs with the use of STE systems. With over 80,000 installations in the UK, this is the most popular renewable energy technology. 

"Save between 12% and 17% of your fuel costs every year"

Solar water heating involves the absorption of the sun's radiation by collectors via a fluid (usually water and/or antifreeze), and the transfer of the heat to a hot water storage tank. This then supplies hot water taps, as in conventional plumbing systems. There are two main types of collector for solar water heating: flat plate and evacuated tube. Correctly sized, both collectors can produce the same volume of domestic hot water per year. Some flat panels can be integrated into your roof, similar to Velux windows. Evacuated tubes are more efficient, requiring a smaller roof area, but are also more expensive. Solar panels work best when placed at an angle of 30-50 degrees from horizontal and orientated between south east and south west. 

Most UK systems involve a closed loop arrangement, where antifreeze is pumped from the solar collector to the hot water tank and heats the water indirectly through a heat exchange coil. 'Open' systems, also known as 'direct', involve the hot water from the solar collector being pumped directly into the storage cylinder. These don't lose so much energy in heat transfer, but do not contain antifreeze and therefore need special plastic expandable pipes to combat freezing. These may also require a water softener in hard water areas to prevent limescale build-up. 

"Get your solar fitted in conjunction with your combi boiler"

Solar collectors can be fitted in conjunction with combi boilers to provide pre-heated water, thus reducing the energy needed to raise the water temperature to the required level. Not all combi boilers will accept pre-heated water, however, and if retrofitted this system requires more expensive installations as well as space for an unvented hot water cylinder. 

A typical solar thermal system will provide 80-100% of domestic hot water during the summer months, but perhaps as little as 15% in the depths of winter. Systems should be checked regularly for debris such as leaves falling on the collectors and serviced every 2-3 years. The pump is the only moving part of a solar thermal installation and should be conveniently located to enable access for replacement in the event of a breakdown. 

"80-100% of your hot water will be provided via Solar Thermal"

If you're thinking about a solar thermal installation, whether you just want advice or would like to get a quote, then contact Darren today on 07782 472 573 or email us at

Our Renewable service includes:
Devon Plumber Air Source Heat Pumps Devon Plumber Ground Source Heat Pumps Devon Plumber Solar Thermal
Devon Plumber Biomass Boilers Devon Plumber Underfloor Heating    

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