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What is solar thermal?
A solar thermal system typically consists of the solar collector(s), a pump, and a twin coil hot water cylinder which acts as a thermal store. Solar collectors are the devices which collect the sun’s heat. Solarsense install manifolds of evacuated tubes which use heatpipe (HP) technology.
Each Thermomax vacuum tube collector consists of a highly insulated water manifold and a row of tubes which plug into the manifold. Each tube is made of shatterproof glass and contains a selectively coated copper plate. The glass used is typically ultra-strong heat resistant pyrex with a double wall construction. The inner tube is coated on its outer surface with an absorbent coating, and on its inner surface with a reflective coating.
How does it work?
Sunlight falling on each tube is collected as heat by the copper plate. The tubes can be rotated to put the plate at the best angle to catch the sun.
Inside each tube, mounted on the plate is a copper tube which screws into the manifold. The copper tube contains alcohol which conducts heat from the copper to the water in the manifold above.
Differential temperature sensors detect when the manifold water temperature reaches 6 degrees above the temperature in the hot water cylinder, and the controller then switches on a pump to circulate the water from the manifold to the cylinder.
The solar thermal system heats the water in the cylinder via one heating coil. This means it can easily be used in conjunction with a traditional boiler or immersion heater, for occasions when the solar thermal is not producing hot water, e.g. during the night.
How efficient is it?
These evacuated tube heat collectors are manufactured in the UK and specifically designed for Northern European climates. The vacuum inside each tube provides perfect insulation from external conditions, meaning that the system produces hot water throughout the year regardless of temperature or wind chill.
A correctly sized solar thermal system will provide around 70% of annual domestic hot water demand and can assist underfloor heating and swimming pools if specified for this demand.
Solarsense have been working with world leading vacuum tube manufacturers Thermomax (now part of Kingspan Renewables) since the mid-1990’s.
Are there any requirements before having an installation?
A solar thermal system needs to feed into a twin coil hot water cylinder, so that it can be used in conjunction with another heat source. If your home or building uses a combi boiler, there will be no existing hot water cylinder, so a new high pressure cylinder would need to be fitted. These can fit easily into an airing cupboard, loft or utility space, and provide the dual benefit of fuel savings from solar thermal and a better flow rate from the high pressure cylinder.
An old or single coil hot water cylinder will need to be replaced with a twin coil cylinder. Solarsense can identify and provide all kinds of heating upgrades necessary for the installation of a solar thermal system, and can supply these as part of an installation package.
Please do request a free, no obligation site survey to find out how a solar thermal system could be integrated into your existing heating system.