Solar Thermal Systems and the Renewable Heat Incentive
Solar thermal panels convert the Sun’s energy into useable heat, this heat is transferred to your hot water cylinder supplementing the original boiler supply.
Solar panels for water heating are very different to those that generate electricity (PV Panels), more information on those can be found in our solar electricity guide.
How Do Solar Thermal Panels Work?
Solar panels are attached to your roof and through a heat transfer system are connected to a solar hot water cylinder, usually located in your airing cupboard. The cylinder stores hot water that has been produced during the day for when you need it.
Can I Fit Solar Thermal Panels To My House?
Ideally solar panels are fitted to a south facing roof to ensure highest exposure to the sun, however, they can be fitted to a south-east/south-west facing roof provided there is minimal shading.
The roof will need to strong enough to support the panels due to their weight, which can be quite heavy. Panels can be fitted to flat roofs, gable ends or an outbuilding. Typically you’ll require 2 to 5 square metres for the installation.
A special hot water cylinder is required and this can be a conversion of an original one or if this is not possible then a new one may be required.
How Much Does a Solar Thermal Installation Cost?
Costs are very much dependant on many factors, including the number of panels installed, ease of installation, type of existing system and how easy it is to convert, typically costs range between £3,000 – £6,000.
Do I Require Planning Permission for Solar Thermal Panels?
In conservation areas planning permission may be required, please consult your local authority for rules and regulations in your locality, if you live in a listed building you will not be allowed to attach solar panels to it, you may consider installing an ‘A’ frame hidden in the garden somewhere.
Benefits of Solar Thermal Panels
- A typical system will cut your water heating bills by up to a 1/3.
- You can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by anything from 325-645kg per year.
- Modern technologies allow solar panels to make the best use of the british climate, even in cloudy/broken sunshine.
- Your house value will increase, possibly covering the costs, if not more. A recent survey by MORI found people are willing to pay up to £10,000 more for a home built to high environmental standards.
Are Grants Available?
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was launched in April 2014 and will provide a tariff for renewable heat technologies such as solar thermal. You can find full information on this in our page explaining the Renewable Heat Incentive
There are also incentives available for Solar Photovoltaics via the Feed-In Tariff.
Prior to the launch of the RHI was the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP). This allowed homeowners to apply for a one-off payment, which varied depending on the type of renewable heat technology installed. These RHPP vouchers were available up until the end of March 2014 when the scheme closed and the RHI was introduced.