Does anyone have good or bad experiences with any UK Solar Heating
suppliers/installers.. This is not really a DIY project but the total house
energy project is really DIY with, and often without, the help of
professionals. Any recommendations or people I should avoid?.
- I had a system installed by one
of their recommended installers a few months back and the quality of the
product and installation are both excellent.
The system has delivered a surprising amount of energy, (better than I was
expecting) and even on cold days like we're getting now pre-heats the HW
cylinder so the boiler has less to do. I went with a data-logger option on
the solar controller so have been able to keep a close eye on what the
system does etc!
It depends upon why you want Solar Water Heating,. If its to look
green then almost any supplier will do. If it's to save money then
none will as no commercial installation will pay back its installation
cost in its lifetime.
Solar Water heating is one of the easiest DIY projects BTW and doing
it yourself is the only way of coming anywhere near breakeven.
Can you recommend a DIY solar water heater site for information?
I can envisage using a large single panel steel radiator painted black and
mounted in a well insulated double glazed frame. I think that the Max
incoming solar energy is about 3 quarters of a Kw per sq M, and reduced by,
say approx 50% efficiency, is that reasonable ball park figures to start
I also think that winter solar gain is only approx 10% of Max.
Does any one have any info or figures to add to the debate?
On Sat, 8 Dec 2007 17:43:12 -0000, "Donwill"
For a start, very few of the commercial ones as they almost all, to
put it mildly, overstate the effectiveness of solar water heating. You
will also find a lot a vague claims but few actual figures.
There are also inflated claims for the life of the systems. "Life" in
the solar industry seems to mean how long before it has to be
completely dismantled. Claims of 20-25 years are common but in that
time you would expect to replace the pump (perhaps several times), the
panel front plastic and other items. The cost of this can easily
exceed the purchase price.
Well the Solartwin panel Mary enthusiases about is simply two sheets
of thin aluminium riveted together in a few places with a length of
silicon rubber pipe run between them three times lengthways so it is
slightly squashed by the aluminium. This is in an aluminium case with
a foam back insulation and twinwall polycarbonate front. It's a cheap
construction with a relatively poor collection efficiency but produces
quite good overall efficiency by using a solar powered pump. (When
you are not collecting much energy in the first place a 25W pump
The Solartwin by the way, although mildly interesting, has a slight
problem in that it is allergic to hard water so you either need to
factor in the cost of an ion exchange water softener or live in a soft
Figures, as I have mentioned, are disliked by green proponents, they
think they create the wrong impression. They prefer things like "Wow
- lots of hot water in November" and "You won't believe how hot my
Some sources of interest are the Energy Savings Trusts "Potential for
Microgeneration Study and Analysis, Final Report 14th November 2005"
Of solar water heating they conclude
"Current status and potential - Currently the largest microgeneration
industry, installing 2000 units annually.
Generally, solar water heating is not cost effective at present
The technology is most effective if replacing electric heating
However, while capital costs are projected to reduce, the learning
rate appears low and it is not likely that solar water heating will
provide cost effective water heating over the timescales of the study
[up to 2050] without substantial grant support."
two DTI test reports on solar panels which give much of the
information you are looking for.
If you are heating your water by mains gas a single panel will save
you about £40 per year.
There isn't much scope for adding solar space heating to an existing
house in the UK.
No, I'm absolutely right and even organisations like the Energy Saving
Trust agree. In the UK no commercial solar water installation makes
Hence the reason for asking why he wanted to do it. Some people do it
for pseudo religious reasons, some to impress their neighbours, some
through ignorance (the "everyone has to do their bit" fallacy) and
some do it out of interest. Without knowing the reason its difficult
to give the best advice.
How many kWh worth of energy in total did you gain from your solar
heating installation today Mary?
It was less than 3C (Got a constant frost warning in the car) and
gloomier than The Wreck of the Hesperus at 1-00 pm in Leeds, and dark
by soon after 3-00 pm.
OTOH The temperature of the water in our rising main was 7C, it would
be very easy to make a net heat loss from a solar water heating system
under these circumstances.
How many were you washing up for?
What kind of boiler/system and how big?
On Sat, 08 Dec 2007 23:36:33 +0000, Peter Parry
"25 years" Seems to have the status of a "Golden Number" in the
vocabulary of those promoting green technology, for whatever motive.
You know something along the lines of the "7 Seas", "7Deadly Sins"
and "7 Wonders of the World".
Curiously CFL's have been claimed to last 25 years, but we had one
fail yesterday, the third within a week. :-(
Can I just add my own experiences here. While a student in Crete in
the early nineties, I stayed in a flat with solar water heating. It
worked well, but not in the winter (had to use immersion heater
from Dec to Feb, from memory, and I don't do baths).
What they call winter in Crete is an overcast June day in Scotland. I
agree, we are talking 15-20 years when the technology may have
matured, but Scotland has not moved any more south in the period :-)
I followed this thread with interest and I am not convinced there is a
But how do you make them last that long? I find that they are empty
long before that.......
That's for sure.
As soon as I see a product with a lot of "analogue" explanations of its
value, and a lot of case studies from people like Mrs Jones from
Burslem then I am suspicious.
Once there are the marketing promotions for the first customers in the
area, one intuitively knows that it is another case of Deceptus