Solar Hot Water - FAQ

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Frequently Asked QuestionsSolar Thermal Hot Water

How much energy will the solar panels output?
Our solar thermal installations typically output between 1000kWh and 2500kWh.
What is the payback for a solar thermal installation?
Our systems typically payback around 2-3 times over 25 years of use.
Do I need to replace my hot water cylinder?
Most people do not have a spare heating coil in their cylinder in situations such as this and providing the cylinder is in a serviceable condition we install a uniquely Northern Ireland invention with global sales, the Solasyphon. This is an external Willis type heater designed for solar thermal panels.
Does my roof need to face south?
South facing roofs at a 30 degree angle offer the best annual output. However, east or west facing roofs can function very well as the available solar radiation only reduces by about 20% in these orientations. We can increase the size of the panels to compensate for this reduction.
Are your panels approved?
We only use the very highest quality of materials. The panels we use meet all the required standards including Solar Keymark and MCS approval.
Do you work with domestic or commercial clients?
We work with both domestic and commercial clients. Commercial system are usually more involved than domestic applications so you should contact us to discuss your requirements.
How much space do I need on my roof for a solar thermal installation?
Typical installations have panels sizes occupying 4.6 or 6.9m² of roof area.
Whose panels and tubes do you use?
We offer high quality German & Austrian manufactured panels and tubes.
What guarantees will I receive?
The manufacturer guarantee their collectors for 12 years, most other components and labour is usually guaranteed for 5 years.
Do I need planning permission?
Our roof mounted systems do not need planning permission for domestic installations unless the property is listed or in a conservation area. For commercial premises planning approval will usually be required.
Will my roof be strong enough?
Most roofs are strong enough to take a solar installation without reinforcement.
How are the panels fixed to the roof?
For a standard roof we use rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The brackets hook out from underneath your existing tiles. We do not drill tiles/slates or use mastic/silicone to weather proof your roof.
How long will the installation take?
Installation normally takes between 1 and 2 days.
How much do Solar Thermal collectors weigh?
Our systems weigh about 19kg per square metre.
Are the collectors fragile?
No, the solar collectors we use are designed to be very robust. We use toughened glass that will resist hail stones and other normal stresses.
How hot will the solar heated water get?
The panels can routinely exceed 100°C. Given the high temperatures it is important that pipe clips, insulation/lagging and pipe joints can withstand up to 150°C heat.
Can I heat my house and my hot water with solar?
Most houses in the UK need their heat during the winter when solar radiation is at a minimum. This means that to heat your property you need very large collector areas to make a worthwhile contribution to your heating. At the moment this solution is not cost effective for the UK climate.
Can I heat my swimming pool with solar panels?
Yes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools can be heated with solar panels. This can be a very effective way of reducing the heating and Co² costs associated with heating swimming pools.
What happens to the panels when I go on holiday?
You can leave the system switched on, it will continue to heat your cylinder while you area away. The system will not be damaged by periods of minimal use.
What is the output of a solar thermal panel in terms of kWh?
Typical outputs from a domestic solar water heating system are in the range of 1000kWh to 2500kWh per year.
Can a solar water heating system be used in place of a traditional gas or electric heating system?
In order to ensure proper efficiency of your water heating system, a solar energy system must usually be used in conjunction with a traditional oil, gas or electric heating system, rather than as an alternative to a traditional system. While it is possible to size a system to provide a 100% solution, the best return on investment occurs when a system is sized to provide most of the hot water, most of the time.
Do solar thermal systems produce hot water in the winter?
EcoTech solar thermal systems will operate and produce hot water during the winter months, all associated pipe-work has anti-freeze protection.
Do solar thermal systems produce hot water on a cloudy or overcast day?
EcoTech solar systems will be able to provide water heating during cloudy or overcast days, but may require the use of traditional gas or electric heating system to produce required temperatures.
What happens if one of the solar tubes is broken?
The tubes are very strong and not easily broken, but can be replaced very easily should one break due to extreme conditions. They are inexpensive and available directly from us. One advantage of evacuated tubes systems is that in the event of a breakage it will typically disable only a single tube instead of an entire collector as would be the case with a flat plate design, the system will continue to produce hot water with one or even several broken tubes. There is no leakage from the system as a result of a broken tube.
What is the life of the solar collector systems?
EcoTech solar systems have a life expectancy of greater than 25 years with a manufacturer's warranty of between 10 & 15 years depending on model.
Do solar heating systems require any maintenance?
Maintenance of the system is negligible; however, an annual assessment of the solar system is recommended to help to maintain efficiency levels and to help avoid potential long term problems with the system.
How much does a solar system cost?
A fully installed solar thermal system which can provide enough hot water for a family of four costs in the range of £2500 - £3500 before grants or incentives.
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