Solar Thermal

Solar Thermal

Using free heat from the sun to warm your water

Solar water heating systems (also called solar thermal systems) use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. A conventional boiler or immersion heater can be used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.

Benefits of solar thermal
  • Hot water throughout the year. The system works all year round, though you’ll need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater during the winter months.
  • Reduced energy bills. Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your hot water costs will be reduced.
  • Lower your carbon footprint. Solar hot water is a green, renewable heating system and can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
How do solar thermal systems work?

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler of immersion heater can be used as a back-up to heat the water further to reach the temperature you want.

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There are two types of solar thermal heating panels:

  • Evacuated tubes.
  • Flat plate collectors, which can be fixed on your roof tiles or integrated into your roof.

Larger solar panels can also be arranged to provide some contribution to heating your home as well. However, the amount of heat provided is generally very small and it is not normally considered worthwhile.

Is solar thermal right for your property?
    • Do you have a sunny place to put solar panels? You’ll need around five square metres of roof space which faces East to West through South and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. The panels don’t have to be mounted on a roof, they can be fixed to a frame on a flat roof or hang from a wall.
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  • Do you have space for a larger, or an extra, hot water cylinder? If a dedicated solar cylinder is not already installed then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil.
  • Is your current boiler compatible with solar water heating? Most conventional boiler and hot water cylinder systems are compatible with solar water heating. If your boiler is a combination boiler (combi) and you don’t currently have a hot water tank, a solar hot water system may not be compatible.

A more efficient and cost-effective route to solar water heating could be installing a Solar PV system and fitting a Solar iBoost to that, in order to use excess electricity produced to heat your water. Our surveyors and engineers will be able to assess your home and help you choose the best setup to meet your needs.

How much will you earn and save?

Solar water heating systems can achieve savings on your energy bills. Based on the results a recent field trial by the Energy Savings Trust, typical savings from a well-installed and properly used system are £60 per year when replacing gas heating and £70 per year when replacing electric immersion heating. Savings will vary from user to user.

Existing systemFuel bill savings (£/year)Carbon dioxide savings (kgCO2/year)
Gas£65270 kg
Oil£75350 kg
Coal£80610 kg
Electricity£75500 kg
LPG£125320 kg

If your system is eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, you could earn quarterly, index-linked cash payments for 7 years for a domestic system.

The amount you receive through the RHI scheme will depend on a number of factors including the latest tariffs available and – in some cases – metering. You can estimate how much money you could earn through RHI using the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)’s RHI payment calculator.

One part of the RHI eligibility criteria is that your solar thermal system must be installed by an MCS Accredited Installer, such as Just Energy Solutions.

Solar thermal maintenance

Maintenance costs for solar water heating systems are generally very low. Most solar water heating systems come with a five-year or ten-year warranty and require little maintenance.

The most important thing for you to check for is whether there are any leaks. Leaks of anti-freeze will produce a strong smell (even if you can’t see any liquid). If you notice this you should contact your installer. If you are not getting hot water or the solar pipework is cold when the pump is running on warm, sunny days then you should contact your installer. For peace of mind, an annual service is always useful.

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You should have your system checked more thoroughly every 3-7 years. It is likely that after this period of time, the anti-freeze that is used to protect your system in the winter months will need to topped up or be replaced as it breaks down over time reducing the performance of your system. Anti-freeze lasts better if the solar water system is used throughout the year and not left unused during the warmest weeks of the year. This cost of replacing the anti-freezer is usually around £100.

The other thing that our engineers will check is the pump. In a well maintained system, pumps can last for more than 10 years and cost approximately £90 to replace.

How much will it cost?

The cost of installing a typical solar water heating system is £3,000 – £5,000 (including VAT at 5%). Savings are moderate – the system can provide most of your hot water in the summer, but much less during colder weather. Get in touch with our team to arrange a no obligation survey and quote for your solar thermal system.

How long will it take?

From the moment you call or email the team, we will normally be able to book a survey for you within 1 – 3 working days.

Our surveyor will carry out an inspection of your property and give you a quote for your system within 3 – 5 working days.

If you are happy to go ahead with your solar thermal installation at the quoted price, our engineers will typically be scheduled to start work within 2 – 4 weeks and complete your installation within 1 – 2 weeks (larger systems could mean your system takes longer to install).

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Once your system is installed and signed off, we can assist you in your application to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme (provided your system is eligible under the Domestic RHI scheme). The RHI application is submitted to your energy provider, and the time it will take to process your application varies from provider to provider.

Who would carry out the installation?

Our multi-skilled, experienced and MCS approved engineers are fully qualified to carry out your solar thermal installation.

Our team will be dressed in uniform and carrying their Just Energy Solutions ID card; with years of experience, they always work tidily and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Call or email us now for more information, to book a survey and/or for a no obligation quote.

South East Office

North Orbital Road

St Albans

AL2 1DL

T: 0844 880 8189

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

13 + 6 =

South East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

North Orbital Road

St Albans

Hertfordshire AL2 1DL

t: 0844 880 8189

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

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