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The Top Ten Misconceptions about Solar Hot Water Systems in the UK

By 10th November 2020Blog

1. It’s cloudy, so solar hot water systems won’t work.

Reality – Solar panels rely on diffuse radiation , so even when partially overcast, the UK still receives enough of this diffuse solar radiation to preheat your domestic hot water.

2. Solar hot water systems are not cost effective.

Reality – Residential solar hot water systems offset the cost of gas or electricity to heat your hot water. Do you know what the price of these planet-sapping commodities will be in 5 or 10 years time? Solar power will always be available free of charge. On top of this, correctly maintained hot water systems can have an operational life of over 20 years, not to mention the added value to your property.

3. I will have less hot water if I switch to solar power.

Reality -Solar hot water systems can be designed for any quantity of hot water requirements, although typically, to achieve the desired hot water comfort levels, a residential solar energy system will require a slightly larger cylinder.

4. Solar hot water doesn’t work at night.

Reality – True, the panels themselves can’t collect solar thermal energy at night (now that would be a good bit of kit – let me know if you hear of one that can!!) However, Solar thermal energy collected throughout the day heat the temperature of your hot water. If this cylinder is correctly insulated to prevent heat loss, if you use your hot water at night, the energy collected during the day will stay hot to be used when you need it.

5. It’s too cold in the winter for solar hot water.

Reality – Because solar hot water collectors use diffuse radiation from sunlight, on an ivy winter’s day, when the sun is shining (and we get plenty of those in the UK if you think about it) solar gain can be excellent, meaning water temperatures can be raised so less energy is needed to heat it to the required temperature at the taps, so your boiler will be doing much less work, saving gas, and saving you money.

6. Solar hot water systems are expensive to install.

Reality – If you are thinking of replacing your cylinder, a twin-coil version will typically only cost 20-30% more. If you’re re-roofing, go for flat plate solar collectors and integrate them into the roof. The roof area used will offset the cost of roof tiles or slates for a considerable area (An average 2 panel system takes up around 4 square metres)An average 2 panel domestic system for a home or business will be in the region of 2,000 – 3,000 plus installation costs, making it far more affordable than most people think (plus you get free hot water at the end of it!)

7. Solar hot water systems do not make a big impact on the environment.

Reality – Hot water heating is the second largest consumption of energy in the home, accounting for between 20% and 40% of the energy consumed. Switching to solar heated hot water can eliminate carbon emissions created when fossil fuels are burned.

8. Solar hot water systems are ugly.

Reality – Modern solar hot water systems can be roof-integrated to align flush with the roof and resemble a skylight. Solar hot water systems have also become a status symbol as concerns about the planet’s energy consumption and environment have become front page news.

9. Solar hot water takes up a lot of space.

Reality – Most residential solar hot water systems do take up more space than a conventional system, but as you can’t turn the sun off, there have to be safety devices for days of prolonged and uninterrupted sunshine. Read about them in this site’s article on solar thermal safety devices. That said, Working with a knowledgeable design team, or experienced installers, can help you create the system that is right for the space you have available.

10. It takes a long time to install a solar hot water system.

Reality – Most solar hot water systems can be installed in two to three working days, although this will depend on the system and the individual installation requirements.