Solar Thermal – Solar Thermal Panels

solar thermal - a greener alternative

In a time when renewable energy and environmental protection are becoming more and more vital, solar thermal water heating is becoming more and more significant. 

Let’s examine the benefits of solar thermal energy in more detail:  

  • They are very effective at capturing heat from the sun.  

  • The actual technique is extremely simple. 

  • the ideal method for warming water.  

  • They are also very valuable to enterprises. 

With solar thermal technology, sunlight is captured, converted to heat that is then stored, and finally converted into electricity as the name says.  

The low maintenance of solar thermal systems is well recognised, especially when compared to traditional heating systems like gas or oil. To ensure that a solar thermal hot water system operates well and without issues, simple maintenance is advised. In this article, we go over some of the annual maintenance procedures for a solar thermal system.   

What is the mechanism of solar thermal energy? 

Although the fundamentals of solar thermal technology are quite simple, building a system that effectively absorbs solar energy and converts it to hot water requires cutting-edge technology. The initial step in this process, which converts solar energy into a usable resource, is the installation of solar panels. 

Domestic solar thermal hot water systems function by capturing solar radiation through collectors on the roof. The fluid that is circulated through a sealed circuit, past the collectors, and into a coil inside a specially-made hot water cylinder is heated by this energy. After that, the hot water is kept in the cylinder until it is required. 

 

What Is the Process of Solar Thermal Panels? 

Solar thermal panels, also known as solar collectors, are fixtures that are put on your roof and use solar energy to heat water that is kept in a cylinder. Water and antifreeze are both present in the fluid that is passing through the panels. These technologies are mostly used for space and water heating.  

Similar to solar PV, solar thermal panels perform best on south-facing roofs, though they can also be used on south-west and south-east-facing rooftops. Additionally, if the roof is unsuitable, you can install it on the ground as long as it receives direct, unobstructed sunshine. 

 

Solar thermal panels come in two primary categories: 

  • These objects, known as flat-plate collectors, resemble solar PV panels in appearance. A fluid that transfers heat from the absorber to a water tank makes up the majority of its components, along with a dark absorbing surface, a transparent cover, a heat-insulating backing, and a back. Steel, copper, aluminium, polymers, or other metals can all be used to make the absorber. The most costly conductor is copper, which is also the best and most resilient. 

  • Evacuated (or vacuum) tube collectors: unlike solar panels, these collectors are made up of several glass tubes through which the transfer fluid flows. These systems are more efficient than flat-plate panels, especially in cold climates, but lose efficiency in warm weather due to the risk of overheating. That is because vacuum tubes avoid heat loss, while flat panels tend to lose some heat. The evacuated tube structure, with gaps between the tubes, allows snow to fall down and thus minimises its impact on efficiency since the lack of radiated heat makes it impossible for the snow to melt. 

 

How to care for solar thermal equipment

There are various reasons why homeowners like Solar Thermal Panels. First, the systems use free solar energy that is available to them to heat water. Second, a solar thermal system can substantially lower a family’s fuel expenses. Thirdly, because solar thermal maintenance is straightforward, there is little need for intervention when it comes to servicing and maintaining it. 

 

What you’ll need to use solar thermal in your home: 

  • In order to install solar panels, you will need a position that is acceptable for the panels themselves as well as a location for a special solar cylinder that has the technology required to convert the solar energy captured into useful heating energy for your hot water. 

  • The solar system needs to get enough sunlight to function consistently. Solar energy can be captured all year long, contrary to popular belief that it can only be done during the summer. Shade from trees and buildings, however, will significantly reduce a solar collector’s efficiency, thus it should be avoided to maintain a solar collector’s efficiency. 

  

 Here at a Greener Alternative, we can guide you through the process and ease any fears or apprehensions that you may have with Solar thermal panels by selecting what is best for you.

Why consider an Air source heat pump?

air source heat pump| Greener Alternative
An air source heat pump can effectively heat and cool your house. When installed correctly, an air source heat pump can provide a home with up to three times as much thermal energy as it uses in electricity. This is possible because, unlike combustion heating systems, a heat pump transfers heat rather than converting it from fuel.

Air source heat pumps come in two different varieties. More frequently, air-to-water systems heat water that is subsequently distributed throughout the house via radiators or an underfloor heating system. They can also be used to warm water that is stored for use in the kitchen or bathroom. Since they cannot heat water, air-to-air systems often use fans to move heated air throughout the house.

 

How do they work?

The same technology that keeps your refrigerator cool is used by air source heat pump, but in the opposite direction. Between two heat exchangers, a liquid refrigerant with an extremely low boiling point is circulated in a loop. This refrigerant absorbs heat energy from the ambient air temperature outside and warms up to become a gas. The temperature of this gas is then raised by its subsequent compression back into a liquid. After passing via a heat exchanger, the heated refrigerant is transferred to a different body of water for use in the central heating system. The cycle then repeats as the liquid refrigerant passes through an expansion valve in the last stage, which lowers the pressure and temperature.

 

Can I use it in my property? 

A well-insulated housing with high standards of airtightness is essential since heat pumps are most effective in homes that warm up quickly, retain the heat, and need little energy to maintain a temperature after it has been reached. Thus, you must ensure that your property is energy efficient before installing a heat pump if it isn’t already.

When there is little temperature differential between the pump unit and the heat distribution system, heat pumps function most effectively. Because they generate heat at a lower temperature than a traditional central heating system, bigger radiators are needed to distribute the heat over a larger area. As a result, some of your current radiators may need to be replaced.

Although huge, heat-pump-specific radiators can also be used, underfloor heating is optimal. Heat pumps require different controls than conventional central heating systems because they operate more effectively when temperature demands are gradual rather than abrupt.

Properties that are off the gas grid and rely on pricey fuels like electricity, oil, LPG, or coal for space heating are the ones where heat pumps make the most economic sense. Make sure your property is well insulated if you are connected to mains gas, which is less expensive per provided unit than electricity. This is because the heat pump will need to operate effectively to save you money.

A heat pump that operates effectively is likely to be the least carbon-intensive method of heating your home because the majority of the electricity produced in the UK now comes from low-carbon sources.

Furthermore, keep in mind that even though the heat pump doesn’t require much room, it needs to be installed outside where there is good airflow.

 

How to Choose a Heat Pump

Every domestic heat pump sold in the UK has an EnergyGuide label that compares its heating and cooling performance rating to that of other brands and models on the market.

The heating season performance factor (HSPF), which is a measurement over an average heating season of the total heat provided to the conditioned space, expressed in Btu, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system, expressed in watt-hours, indicates the heating efficiency for air-source electric heat pumps.

 

What will it cost me?

The price to install an air source heat pump unit ranges from £6,500 to £15,000. This depends on the size of the building it will heat. Further work may be needed in addition to this to enhance the heat distribution system, such as installing larger radiators to assist with heat distribution. Note that good insulation and fabric installation are prerequisites for an efficient heat pump.

The cost of operation will differ based on the size and insulation level of your home, the type of distribution system you have, the desired room temperature, and the system’s CoP.

How much you save on your annual gasoline expense will depend on the type of fuel you are now using. Potential annual savings, based on a detached home with four bedrooms, are (according to data from the Energy Saving Trust):

The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme may provide funding for the installation of air source heat pumps. This saves you £5,000 off the price and installation, subject to availability.

 

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme  is also applicable to ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers in remote areas without access to the gas grid.

Air source heat pumps require little maintenance but do require an annual service. They are dependable, run automatically, and will often last for 20 years or longer.