Shropshire Solar

ACTIVE SOLAR THERMAL SYSTEM

System Basics

The illustration below shows a typical Active Solar Heating system layout. An electronic controller constantly compares the temperature of the solar collectors with the temperature of the water in the cylinder.

Light is absorbed into the solar collector and converts that thermal energy into heat. Whenever the collectors are hotter than the cylinder, the controller switches on the system's circulating pump. A mixture of antifreeze and water is then circulated through the collectors and the cylinder's heat exchanger, heating the cylinder in just the same way as a central heating boiler. When you have sufficient hot water in the cylinder the pump stops - your own solar powered water heater.

Diagram showing solar radiation hitting solar collector by which water passes and is heated to pass via the boiler to heat the tap water.

How does solar power work?

Sunshine energy is very potent. Whatever you think about our weather, it’s a fact that in the UK each square metre receives from the sun about 1000kWh of energy each year. That’s the same amount of energy used by a 1-kilowatt electric fire left on for 10 hours a day for 100 days. In solar water heating system, solar energy is collected over 3 to 4 square metres (receiving solar energy equivalent to keeping that electric fire on for 300-400 days) and used to heat water. This gives significant savings on household energy bills, as the solar energy from the system is free.

The key to the performance of the solar water heating system is the collector, or solar panel, that goes on your roof. The collectors are very effective at capturing the energy from the sun. The most advanced collector systems will capture most of the solar radiation that falls onto them. This energy is then transferred to your hot water storage cylinder; the heated water will then supply your hot taps.

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