Equipment needed and important considerations
The equipment you’ll need to collect solar energy differs according to how it’s going to be used. This means we’d suggest consulting an expert, who will also be able to advise about installation costs and the subsequent savings you can expect to make.
Water heating equipment
Water is heated using a technique called solar thermal where heat is stored in panels containing flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes that warm the water as it passes through.
Electricity generation equipment
If you want to heat rooms (also known as ‘space heating’) and/or run appliances, you’ll need to generate electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells. These are made of silicon and have two layers of semi-conductors, one positive and the other negative, which work together to convert sunlight into an electrical current.
PV cells are available as panels, tiles or slates.
But whatever system you choose:
- the panel(s) must be:
- on a south-east or south-west facing roof
- tilted at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees
- your roof should be as clear as possible from shade, eg other buildings or over hanging trees.
Also, any solar panel is heavy and can be fitted as either part of your roof or placed on top of existing tiles, providing the roof structure is strong enough to take the weight, making it essential to get professional advice from a qualified installer or a builder.