Check List for Installing Solar Water Heating

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Installing a Solar Water Heating system for your home is a great way to reduce your annual energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint. And with Governments now providing incentives to install renewable technology in your home, now could be the time to consider getting one fitted.

However, the initial purchase and installation price can be quite expensive so before you make your decision to install a solar water heating system there are some questions you should ask yourself.

1. Is your property suitable for solar hot water?

A typical solar water heating system requires a panel to be attached to your roof to collect heat from the sun. In order for this to be most effective you need a 3-4m² area on a South facing roof that receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. A South East and South West facing roof is also suitable but will not work as efficiently.

In addition to roof space you will also need space for an additional heating cylinder that helps to heat the water as part of the system.

2. Flat Plat or Evacuated Tube Systems?

Solar evacuated tubes are more efficient in converting sunlight into heat than flat plate panels. However, problems may occur during installation if they have not been sized correctly.

Flat plate solar panels tend to be a cheaper alternative to evacuated tubes and are more suitable for domestic hot water use.

Or you can have the best of both worlds and use solar evacuated tubes and flat plate panels together. The flat plates warm the water first, then the evacuated tubes further boost the temperature before sending it to the storage tank.

3. Is your current boiler compatible with solar water heating?

The good news is that most conventional boiler systems and hot water cylinder systems are compatible with solar heating. This is down to solar hot water systems requiring a hot water tank.

If you have a combination boiler that operates without a tank then it is likely that it is not compatible.

If you are unsure it is best to talk to a qualified installer who will advise you on compatibility with your current system.

4. Do you need planning permission for a solar hot water system?

In the UK, changes to permitted development rights for renewable technologies have made it easier to install solar panels on homes without the need for planning permission.

However, exceptions do apply for listing buildings, conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty. As well as for size of the technology and positioning.

No matter where you are, if you are thinking in fitting solar panels it is advisable to check with your local authority to find out if planning permission is required before going ahead with installation.

5. How do I find an approved solar water heating installer?

Installing a solar hot water system should be carried out by a competent and accredited installer. You can usually find one through contacting a recognised accreditation scheme who will provide an up to date list of accredited installers.

In the UK the main body for accrediting installers of renewable energy technology is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

If you decide to contact installers directly make sure you ask them about any industry accreditations they hold. Don't be afraid to make further investigations with these accredited bodies to find out more about them and whether they do in fact recognise and accredit your installer.

By choosing an accredited installer you have more protection as a consumer should anything go wrong with the fit and performance of your heating system. You may also find that you are not eligible for renewable energy grants if you do not use a certified installer.

Freesource Energy are Microgeneration Certification Scheme approved Solar Water Heating Installers. They offer advice and installation for all forms of renewable energy products including solar hot water, solar photovoltaic, wind turbines and heat pumps. Their aim is to make it easy for everyone to understand and apply renewable energy solutions in their home or business.

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