Shropshire Solar

Frequently asked Questions

What is a solar water heating system?

Solar water heating or solar thermal is direct heating of water from sunlight. Fluid circulates through efficient solar collectors, usually positioned on the roof, where it is heated and used to heat the hot water cylinder or heat store. A solar hot water system includes the collectors, a new hot water cylinder and control system as well as all the pipe work and connection with your boiler. A good solar collector is typically about 90% efficient at converting solar energy into usable heat.

Can I use the hot water for radiators?

This is not usually possible - mainly because you will want the heat during winter months when there is least sunlight, therefore a very large number of solar collectors would be required.

What happens if it’s a cloudy day?

You may still have hot water from the day before, as the cylinder will be very well insulated. At times when you have not got enough hot water your boiler will automatically cut in to heat the water. During the summer and sunny days in spring and autumn you can expect most of your hot water to be provided by solar power. In winter and for the rest of the spring and autumn, the solar system will continue to contribute energy to the hot water storage tank.

Does Solar reduce my carbon footprint?

It is claimed that a solar panel heating your solar hot water system will reduce your Carbon Dioxide output by between 1 and 2 Tonnes per year on an average sized solar water system.

What are the types of solar collectors available?

There are three main types of solar collector, which can be used in Active Solar Heating systems. These are:

  • - Evacuated tubes
  • - Flat plate collectors
  • - Unglazed plastic collectors

Both evacuated tubes and flat plate collectors used for Active solar Heating systems in houses and other types of buildings. The less expensive unglazed plastic type of collector is used exclusively for outdoor swimming pools where lower water temperatures are required. A well-designed system using any good quality collector can provide a significant contribution to a household’s hot water requirement.

What else should I consider?

Firstly, before you consider generating your own power whether it’s solar water heating or electricity you should check some basics. For example have you insulated your property? You wont be able to obtain a grant unless you have got good loft insulation and cavity wall insulation if your property is suitable. It’s also sensible to make sure you have an efficient central heating boiler. If you’re boiler is 10 years old or more you’ll help the environment and save more money by installing an efficient modern boiler. You should also have thermostatic controls on your central heating and an automatic timer controller. Don't forget the grants also require you to have energy efficient lighting.

Does Solar Energy really work in the UK?

A total of 1350 hours of sunshine per year are experienced on average in the UK according to the MET Office. Areas in the north of the UK have about 1250 hours per year while in the south the sunshine could provide up to 1470 hours per annum. There are 8 months when the sun is out for more than 100 hours per month. Four of these months the sun is out for well over 150 hours per month. There are only two months in the year when the sunshine is less than 50 hours per month.

What is the payback period?

This depends on variables like the future price of fuel and the volume of hot water consumption. However an article reported in the Guardian Newspaper suggests that if you have the money then installing solar power is a better investment than leaving your money in the bank. As well as effectively saving money on your power and energy bills, a solar power system actually adds real value to your home, demonstrates your green credentials and makes you feel good!

It’s important to remember in this age where such emphasis is being placed on identifying and using alternative energy sources that not only are you benefiting the environment, but also you will undoubtedly benefit economically in the long term as your traditional energy bills significantly decrease. A typical well-sized solar system should provide around 50% to 60% of the annual domestic hot water requirements of a home, representing a very worthwhile saving on hot water heating costs. The boiler provides the remaining hot water requirement. Typically during the summer, solar will provide 80%-90% of your hot water needs, in spring & autumn 40%-50% and in winter 10%-25%.

Can I get a Grant?

Grants are available for a micro generation installation from the DTI Low Carbon Buildings Programme. The grant is provided directly to you and does not affect our quotation price. Further information is also available from the Energy Saving Trust

For solar thermal (solar hot water) a grant of £400 is available provided you meet the following criteria:

  • a. a minimum of 270mm of loft insulation to meet current building regulations, where practicable - e.g. 270mm of mineral wool.
  • b. Installed cavity wall insulation (if you have cavity walls)
  • c. All appropriate energy saving light fittings
  • d. installed basic controls for your heating system to include a room thermostat and a time programmer.

The rationale behind these requirements is that all the above measures are more cost effective ways to reduce carbon emissions than simply installing a solar water heating system, therefore should be done first.

What else can I do at home to save energy and reduce carbon emissions?

Try to use as little energy as possible. Keep heating systems turned down and wear more clothes instead. Install A or A+ rated appliances and low energy light bulbs. Get a smart meter to show you how much power you’re using. Consider using wood as a fuel particularly with a wood burning stove which is much more efficient than an open fireplace.

Here are some simple measures you can put in action right now.

  • Turning your thermostat down by 1ºC could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent and save you around £30 per year.
  • Is your water too hot? Your cylinder thermostat shouldn't be set higher than 60ºC/140ºF.
  • Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
  • Always turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Don't leave appliances on standby or charge unnecessarily.
  • If you're not filling up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, use the half-load or economy programme.
  • Only boil as much water as you need (but remember to cover the elements if you're using an electric kettle).
  • A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and in one week loses enough hot water to fill half a bath, so fix leaking taps and make sure they're fully turned off.
  • Replace your light bulbs with energy saving ones. Just one can reduce your lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb - and they last up to 12 times longer than ordinary bulbs.

What area does Shropshire Solar cover?

We will install domestic solar water heating systems in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire.

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