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Solar Heating

Solar Heating

A domestic solar hot water system is one which absorbs the sun's energy and transfers it to a storage cylinder. In the UK it will never be the sole provider of hot water; but it will complement other conventional systems using gas, oil, electricity or solid fuel, however it will pre-heat water so that bills reduced. During summer months the solar panels can provide all the hot water needed by a household.

In a direct system, the water that passes through the panels is the water that eventually comes out of the hot tap. In this type of system, there are issues around the water in the panels freezing in winter (so they need to be drained) and lime-scale build-up; in an indirect system, the water in the panels passes through a heat exchanger (coil) in the cylinder and then back to the panels in a continuous loop. Anti-freeze can be added, and there is no problem with lime-scale build-up.

The two main types of collectors are flat-plate and evacuated tube. Flat-plate collectors heat the water directly, evacuated tubes contain a fluid which evaporates at low temperatures, and the resulting gas rises and condenses on a manifold, transferring its heat as it does so; their extra complexity is reflected in their price.

Solar EnergyWhat are the benefits?

Solar hot water, along with photovoltaic's, wind power, hydro, wave and tidal power and geothermal energy are renewable energy sources which don't involve the burning of fossil fuels, and its associated problems.
Burning fossil fuels releases nitric oxides, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. This causes acid rain which damages forests, wildlife and human health; it also releases carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, lead, particulates and hydrocarbons, which pollute the atmosphere, and cause damage to plants and ecosystems, and human health, especially respiratory problems.

The burning of fossil fuels adds an extra 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. CO2 is an important greenhouse gas. In pre-industrial times there were 290ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere; in 2006 it was 383ppm, and rising by 2ppm every year.

Most scientists agree that the increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is raising the earth's temperature, and that it could rise between 1-4C in the next 100 years (there is only a 5C difference between now and the last ice age); this would mean lower overall global rainfall, global biomass reduction and extinction of many species, and for humans it would mean desertification, famine, forest fires, increase in tropical diseases, and flooding due to the melting of polar ice.

Solar EnergySolar Thermal Energy the ideal compliment to a wood burning boiler

If you opt for a wood burning stove with a back boiler to supply your hot water, then you would be wise to opt for a solar thermal energy collector system to compliment this. As the solar thermal system generates the most hot water during the summer, which is the time that you don't want to be running your wood burner, you can save a lot of money over the life of the heating system.

A solar thermal system will require almost no maintenance once it is installed. At the Stove Shop we have in site experts who can install an efficient and properly sized solar thermal energy collector to generate hot water for you all year round. Coupled with a wood burner (or for best compatibilty an automatic pellet stove with back boiler) and a thermal store tank, you will have a system which will pay for itself several times over in reduced heating bills as well as cutting your carbon footprint for heating.

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