Solar Thermal

Solar thermal panels produce hot water, the principle being a black metal sheet to reflect heat from the sun which heat up water in pipes which run across it.  More advanced solar thermal panels use special vacuum tubes to capture the sun’s heat.

Solar thermal panels are more likely to cause problems and require maintenance than solar pv, because they are mechanical systems involving the regular pumping of water from the panel to your hot water tank and back again whereas photovoltaic panels are solid state electronics with no moving parts. However both types of panel are tried and tested and, with maintenance, should last for decades

It may not be worth installing a solar thermal panel if you do not have a reasonable demand for hot water in the summer. Modern washing machines and dishwashers are cold-fill only, so if you have new appliances, no children in the household and usually take short showers rather than long baths, your demand for hot water may be very low.

Solar thermal panels always work alongside, and do not replace, standard heating systems. In the winter you will get little or no hot water from a solar thermal panel so your hot water will be supplied by your boiler. Solar thermal systems usually require the installation of a new hot water tank with two internal heat exchanging coils, one for the boiler and one for the solar thermal panel, though ‘direct’ systems can be integrated with an existing tank. If you currently have a combination boiler and no hot water tank, a solar thermal panel may not be appropriate.