Solar thermal panels are panels that can be used to heat your hot water. The collectors, which are either evacuated tube panels or flat plate collectors, harness heat from the sun and transfer it to a heat transfer liquid that heats up water that is stored in a hot water cylinder. You can use a boiler or immersion heater as a back-up in the winter or to heat the water up further to reach the right temperature.
Evacuated tube panels involve a bank of glass tubes mounted on the roof tiles, and while they’re usually more expensive, they’re more efficient than flat plate collectors. They’re exactly what they sound like – flat panels that can be fixed onto your roof tiles or integrated into the roof.
Having a solar thermal system will reduce your energy bills since heat from the sun is free, so you won’t have to rely on your traditional heating as much. You’ll also be doing your bit for the environment – if you have a natural gas heating system, you could save up to 295kg of CO2 every year.
Another benefit to solar thermal panels is that you might be eligible for payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is a Government scheme to encourage people to take up renewable heating technologies. As long as you have your system installed by an MCS-registered installer and you meet a few other requirements, you could receive payments of up to £525 per year for seven years. And since the average solar thermal panel system costs £5,500, you could pay off over half of your system just with these payments. That’s not even considering that you could save up to £60 a year on your energy bills if you have a gas system.