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The Benefits Of Solar Panel Energy & Solar Water Heating Systems


solar panels on house

Every day sees a sunrise, and it’s possible for homeowners to benefit from this. When people install a solar energy system, they usually opt for either solar panels, which generate electricity, or a solar water heating system, which only heats water. A study by Scarpa and Willis in 2010 found that individuals would pay £2,380 more for a house that included solar panels. It’s not yet clear whether solar water heaters have the same effect.

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Energy Efficiency

The housing stock of the United Kingdom is among the least energy-efficient in Europe. In 2003, water heating accounted for 24 percent of the energy used by a house. Solar water heating systems consist of a storage tank connected to a series of solar collectors and possibly to mains electricity, which could decrease utility bills by anything from 50 to 80 percent, on average. They are mandatory in some US states and in more than 50 towns in Spain, which could perhaps be the shape of things to come for the United Kingdom. 90 percent of homes in Israel have them, which trend began when the country experienced a fuel supply crisis in the 1950s. While you could install solar panels yourself, you would require a Microgeneration Certification Scheme-certified contractor to install solar water heating.

Renewable Heat Incentive

Under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, the electricity generated by solar panels can be sold to utility companies and earn approximately £877 a year, the cost of installation of a photovoltaic system is around £12,500. Solar water heating systems cost from £4,000 to £5,500 for the typical 2kW setup, and will yield a return of around £500 over 20 years. The environment benefits in both cases.

Solar Water Heating

The amount of hot water provided by solar water heaters depends upon the size of the tank. A family of four would require a tank of at least 364 litres. The space required is not an issue for solar panels when they’re fitted to roofs. In terms of appearance, solar water heaters are more obtrusive.

solar water heatingsolar water heating
Solar water heating is not a recent phenomenon – this advert dates from 1902

Active solar water heaters employ valves, electric pumps and controllers to circulate water, making them more efficient than passive systems in certain situations. A fluid change will be required every few years. In contrast, solar panels require no maintenance, as they lack moving parts, and so can last for as much as 30 years while solar water heaters usually endure for up to 20. If they use mains, active systems will not function in the event of a power cut.

Ideally, the host roof should face south. Solar heating will meet most of your hot water needs from April to September and at least raise water temperature during the rest of the year.

Guest post from: Timothy Chilman on behalf of

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