Solar Thermal & Solar Heating


How much do you know about solar thermal heating? If you have ever left a bucket of cold water in the sun, or left a hose pipe uncoiled and lying on the ground while the sun is out, you’ll be able to understand the principle behind solar thermal technology. After a while the water in the bucket will be heated by the sun and will get warmer as a result. Similarly the water in the hose pipe will be warmer when you turn it on, because it has been sitting in the sun for a while.

This same principle is used for solar thermal systems that are designed to ensure we can get our hot water heated courtesy of the sun itself. This means we don’t have to worry about using energy that we pay for to heat our water. Providing the sun is there to provide heat – and it can do this throughout the year and not just in the warmer months – we can enjoy hot water without paying to heat it.

Most solar thermal installations do have a traditional boiler connected to the hot water tank however. This means that if the sun is not strong enough to provide the required degree of heat to the water before it sends it back into the tank (such as in the depths of winter) it can still be heated up the remainder of the way.

This may make it sound as if it isn’t worth having a solar thermal installation. But think of it like this. Let’s say you want your water heated to 100% of the temperature you would normally achieve with a boiler alone. A solar thermal installation might be able to heat it to 100% of the temperature in the summer and just 50% of the temperature in the winter. So while it doesn’t heat it the whole way at that time of year, you only have to pay for 50% of the energy it would otherwise take to heat it to 100% of the usual temperature. When you think of it like this you can see how useful solar thermal can be.

Solar Thermal Panels

We’re familiar with solar panels that generate electricity for our homes, but solar thermal panels work in a different way to this. In this case they are properly called solar collectors. This is because they literally collect heat from the sun. It is this heat that is then trapped efficiently inside the panels and used to heat the water that travels through them.

So if you are considering getting such panels for your home to heat your water for you, you must ensure you get the right ones. Fortunately most people would consult an experienced installer who would supply the correct panels and install the solar thermal system on their behalf. Once the system is installed you can immediately begin to enjoy getting your hot water heated for you by the free heat provided by the sun – saving money on your energy bills as a result.

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