Solar hot water systems are an efficient and sustainable way of heating water for your household. We look at the different types of Solar hot water systems available, and how to minimise maintenance costs.
What is Solar Hot Water?
Solar hot water systems use solar energy to heat your household hot water. They are a renewable energy technology that can reduce your water heating bill by around 60%. Solar hot water systems are fantastically efficient, and most of them work without problems for decades. There are two main solar hot water systems in common use today: solar thermal panels and PV solar panels.
What are the Differences Between Solar Thermal Panels and PV Solar Panels?
Solar thermal panels use the sun’s warmth to heat some of your hot water. Fluid inside the solar collectors absorbs warmth before being pumped to the hot water cylinder. This heated fluid is used to heat your water to the desired temperature.
PV solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity. Solar photovoltaics (PV) cells capture the sun’s energy even on cloudy days – they don’t need direct sunlight to work. The electricity generated is cheap and sustainable. Rather than export energy that isn’t used in the home, this energy is diverted to the immersion in the hot water cylinder, effectively producing hot water for free.
What are the Maintenance Cost of Solar Hot Water?
Senior researchers have estimated that the maintenance costs of solar hot water systems runs at as little as 2% of the installation cost per year on average. Many solar hot water systems work without problems for decades. However, as with all energy generators, there is a small chance that a fault may develop.
It’s worth remembering that sooner is better when it comes to solar hot water system maintenance. If you have reason to think that there may be a fault, don’t wait to see if things get better by themselves, get a professional to take a look as soon as possible. Minor faults are cheap to repair, but there is a chance that they can become much more expensive problems if they aren’t seen to quickly.
PV solar panels require almost no maintenance. Solar thermal panels need a little more maintenance as the moving fluids and piping should be checked by a professional every three years or so.
How to Keep Solar Hot Water Maintenance Costs Low?
It’s important to hire a trusted professional for the initial installation. A badly installed solar hot water system is likely to develop problems and require higher maintenance costs. That is why it is worth paying a little more up front to get it right the first time around.
Another reason to use an established professional is because you know that they will still be around in a few years time should you need any repair work done. If a fault develops in your system, then it is best to use the same people who originally installed the system to fix your problem. Companies are reluctant to fix solar hot water systems installed by other companies because the model may be very different to what they are used to working with. If you use a newer company to install your system and then that company goes out of business, then you could find yourself in a difficult situation where no one will fix your system.
DIY Solar Hot Water Maintenance
Though you should hire a professional to do most of your maintenance work, there are a few things that you can do yourself if you feel confident enough.
- Check for Shading. Take a quick look to see if any vegetation has grown to the point where it is shading your solar hot water system.
- Check for Dusting. If dust is covering your panels, then they won’t be running at maximum efficiency.
- Check for Damage. It’s worth taking a look for damage every now and again. If you see cracks, corrosion or leaks, then it is time to call a professional.
Complete Renewables are the leading suppliers of solar heating systems in Essex. If you would like to know more about solar energy, then you can either read our guide to debunking myths about solar energy, or contact us on 01621 827015.