Solar Thermal Systems
Solar Thermal Systems use technology to harness solar radiation from the sun to provide thermal energy (heat).
Solar Thermal systems are different from Photo-voltaic Systems (PV), which convert solar energy directly into electricity.
Heating your water
Solar water heating systems gather energy radiated by the sun and convert it into useful heat in the form of hot water. Solar thermal panels have been available since the 1970s and the technology is now well developed with a large choice of equipment. They represent the most cost-effective use of solar energy. They are the most common domestic renewable energy installation with over 80,000 in the UK. The hot water produced is used for showers, dish washing and washing clothes and for swimming pools. Generally solar thermal panels are not used to provide space heating.
Hot water all year round
A solar panel does not need direct sunlight to work and operates satisfactorily in diffuse light which is common on cloudy days. Obviously the intensity of the sun’s rays varies from season to season, but a solar thermal system typical meets 40-60% of a households hot water needs over the year, and in summer can meet 80-100% of demand. Solar systems work well in combination with conventional heating system, providing the majority of the water heating when the conventional system is switched off in the summer.
Northern Ireland gets about 1100 kWh of sunshine on every square metre per annum. North England and Scotland receive a slightly less, 1000 - 900 kWh and the south of England slightly more, 1200kWh.
Solar Heating systems will typically convert 30-50% of the solar energy falling on the solar collectors into useful heated water.
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