frequently asked questions
Q: Does solar energy only work on sunny days?
A: No, diffused radiation means that a solar panel will still generate a lot of energy on cloudy days. Evacuated tubes are particularly efficient in these situations. Because they are evacuated they can heat water regardless of how cold the outside temperature is provided there is some sunlight. To give you some idea of its effectiveness, solar energy works well in the UK climate where 50% of solar radiation is diffused.
Q: Are solar energy systems expensive?
A: As with the question above, there are a lot of misconceptions about solar energy. For example, compare our prices for a swimming pool system with the price and running cost of a heat pump or a gas-powered system. You’ll find our solar systems are a competitive and efficient option. Solar hot water requires virtually no ongoing maintenance and compared with the price of installing and regularly maintaining gas boilers and electric immersions, solar compares very favourably.
Q: What are the running costs for a typical hot water
A: In compact systems, water moves by thermosyphon which is a natural process requiring no external energy input. In the pumped system, the pump uses 80w, the same as a light bulb.
Q: What about the running costs of a swimming pool
A: For a solar pool heating system, an additional pump is installed. However, this is smaller than a standard pool filter pump due to the lower demands. Subsequently the running costs of this is virtually nil placed alongside a conventional heating system.
Q: Does my pool need to be pre plumbed for solar pool heating?
A: No. Although pre plumbing a pool to draw cool water from the deep end and pump warm water in the shallow end does slightly increase efficiency, solar pool heating systems can be easily incorporated into the filtration system when pre plumbing is not an option. Indeed drawing cool water from the pool sink and pumping warm water in through the jets achieves virtually the same result.
Q: Will my initial financial investment in a solar
system ever be recovered?
A: With solar energy, as well as the numerous benefits, you are effectively buying your own power station that offers lifelong independence from the utilities. With gas or grid electricity what you have is a life long loan with no guarantees against a price rise and no payback period at all.
Q: What happens when there is not sufficient sunlight?
On the rare occasion of insufficient hot water from the sun (approximately 20 days a year!), the system controller will automatically activate the immersion heater which is located in the tank. Alternatively, solar hot water can be easily combined with an existing water heating device.
Q: Are the systems protected from freezing temperatures?
In all situations, pipes are well insulated from the external temperatures. If in the very rare occasion water in the pipes approaches freezing it is pumped out and replaced with warmer water from the tank. Both pumped and compact systems use a closed circuit heating coil where freeze resistant liquid heats the domestic tank water.
In the pool heating system, the controller is able to detect when water in the panel approaches freezing and replaces this with warmer water from the pool. Panels are also able to be drained down into the pool completely during the coldest weeks of winter as a precaution against freezing.
Solar photovoltaics are not affected by freezing temperatures.
Q: What about calcium build up?
All systems are fitted with anti calcifying tablets which prevent build up. These are easily replaced after their 6 month life span.
Q: Can solar thermal be used for home heating?
Yes, but only when combined with underfloor heating. Evacuated tube panels and hot water cylinders can be oversized and angled to make the most of the winter sun, and incorporated into a hot water system. However, solar hot water can only supplement a traditional space heating system by approximately 50%, as when home heating is often needed there is no sunshine.
Q: I’d like to know more about solar energy systems.
What is the next step?
A: You can telephone, fax or e-mail us and we will be happy to arrange an appointment to visit your property for a no-obligation site survey. Click here to contact us.