Solar water heating systems use energy from the sun to heat water for use in the home. This water can be utilised for washing and general domestic uses as well as for heating purposes.
There are three main components:
1. Heat Collectors or Panels. The two main types are flat plate and evacuated tube both are normally fitted onto roofs but can be ground mounted. Evacuated tube systems use metal strip collectors in vacuum tubes and are the smaller but more expensive option. Flat plate systems use a dark coloured plate in an insulated container collect heat.
2. Heat transfer system. Transfers the collected heat to the water.
3. Hot water cylinder. This stores the heated water and supplies it onward to those systems that consume it.
In the UK, appropriately sized systems can provide up to 90 per cent of the hot water needs of a typical home.
Depending on specifics such systems should cost upwards of £1,000 in a new build domestic property with higher initial costs for a retro-fit. From recent research it should be possible to install system for £4,000-£5000 into the average home. Payback may be up to twenty years, but with current fuel price escalation this is likely to drop rapidly.
Designing a system to meet your needs will require consideration of supplementary heating systems, the site and its orientation to the sun (you will need some south-facing aspect), the heating & hot-water requirements of the buildings inhabitants and budget. As we in the UK are not overly endowed with sun during the winter months you will also need a supplementary heating system to provide hot water when the sun can’t – log, pellet, gas and multi-fuel burners and boilers can fulfil this role if configured correctly within the overall system.