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Solar Thermal

Solar thermal panels are a type of solar panel that uses energy from the sun to create hot water for your home. The technology behind them is older and they tend to be less common than their electricity generating cousins.

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Honest Knowledge

How Does Solar Thermal Work?

Solar thermal panels work by trapping sunlight as it passes through the panel, producing heat which is captured in a fluid to then transfer it to a hot water cylinder in your home. In the UK the fluid that has been heated by the sun never actually reaches the taps in the home. Instead there is something called an indirect system where a closed loop of fluid containing anti-freeze exists between the panels and the storage cylinder.
This separate loop of fluid is circulated by a small pump and is (usually) triggered by a temperature sensor that activates the pump when the panel is at least 4 degrees warmer than the water in the storage cylinder. When this loop of fluid is triggered it moves the heat from the solar panels to the water in the storage cylinder.

Can I Run A Home On Solar Thermal?

Could you run your home using solar thermal to provide all your hot water? Honestly the answer is “it depends”.  Solar thermal relies on heat generated from the sun, so if you have high hot water demands in the middle of the day and you use solar thermal then sure, you could get most of your hot water this way.

Solar thermal works great in commercial building for this reason, since the staff tend to go home at 5pm, meaning there is little to no hot water demand in the evening for instance. However, your system is generally designed to provide only as much as you’ll use, so you could end up with an overheated system if you aren’t careful and it is producing more heat than it can dissipate.

Another hypothetical question to consider when it comes to solar thermal panels is: would you use your boiler to reheat the water when the panels can’t heat it? For example if you needed a shower in an evening, and all the hot water from your solar thermal panels has run out, would you then run the boiler again in the evening to get more hot water?
If you are running the boiler regardless, this might not be the most cost effective solution for your household.

Solar Guides

We have written some helpful guides, to answer some more questions you might have about the wonderful world of solar!


Solar & ASHPs

Air Source Heat Pumps take the heat from the air around them, and without going into too much detail (which is available here if you

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