With Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems
In France the sun provides much more energy than we can ever hope to harness. However, technology now allows us to capture this free energy to heat hot water and to heat our homes.
Solar Thermal Evacuated Tube technology is increasingly being used for hot water and assisted heating systems. Solar thermal evacuated tubes perform from dawn till dusk all year round, are the most efficient eco systems on the market and will give you substantial savings on your energy bills. Solar energy can provide a saving of 75% plus of your yearly hot water or 30-40% of your total heating costs per year, every year, forever.
Evacuated tubes capture light energy and turn it to hot water that can be stored in a cylinder and used to provide 75% plus of your domestic hot water or can be stored within a Thermal Store and used to assist with space heating.
Evacuated tube panels consist of a number of individual vacuum sealed Pyrex tubes held in an array by a manifold. Each glass tube contains a UV absorbing plate with a copper tube behind which extends into the manifold to transfer heat to the solar (glycol) fluid circulating through it. In turn this heated fluid circulates through a solar coil in a cylinder et voila hot water! These systems have many advantages – being vacuum sealed they are virtually unaffected by ambient temperatures as they only need UV light to work and can achieve efficiency levels of up to 93%. They don’t care how cold, wet or windy it is outside you will continue to get good performance throughout the year. For an average household a 30 tube panel will produce 300L of hot water per sunny day. Look for systems that have built in anti-stagnation features and opt for systems made from the best quality materials.
For a successful installation a South facing roof is best but S/E is almost as efficient. In fact they can even be orientated E/W but this does affect performance and you may need extra panel area. Mounted at an angle of around 30 degrees are best but they can be wall mounted or positioned on a flat roof or even ground mounted as long as they are not affected by shading.
Although predominately used for domestic hot water they can be just as effective for pool heating or by combining the two which will maximises your investment. In such circumstances the clever controller prioritises either the heating of the domestic hot water or the pool water depending on the time of year and your needs. This combination system also works well if you have an adjoining gite where the same solar panel can fill the hot water cylinder in both properties with priority given to one over the other which can be switched for the winter season.
Solar Thermal Evacuated Tube panels can also be used in combination with pretty much any other back up heat sources or used to preheat the water feeding a boiler or can be stored in large thermal stores cylinders and be used to assist your under floor heating or radiators.
One question often asked about ‘eco systems’ is ‘what is the payback’. Well designed and installed Solar Hot Water Systems are considered to be the best eco investment and with the efficiencies available today you will be looking on average at a payback more in the 6-8 year bracket. One of the advantages of solar is that it does actually have a ‘payback’. If you buy Oil, Gas or Electricity there is no payback at all – ever. Factor in servicing, maintenance, inflation and future energy increases and the usual negative ‘what about the payback’ turns into a much more positive statement! Estate agents have confirmed that ‘eco’ installations are increasingly popular and often investment is recouped on the property sale price.
If all that doesn’t convince you there is more – as a resident of France you are eligible for Crédit d’Impôts of 32% of the product costs during 2012. If you do not pay any tax in France will receive a cheque back – yes it really happens!! Reduced rates of TVA of 7% for Solar installations also help reduce the initial investment.
Whatever eco system you consider it is absolutely vital to choose a system that will perform efficiently for a very long time with a “rock solid” guarantee. Look for the Solar Keymark or CSTBat Certification. Check also that the system has undergone a ‘hail’ test – the best systems will have lived through ‘golf ball’ sized hail tests!
AND don’t forget the poor old planet – a solar panel can reduce CO2 emissions by 300kg every year – that’s a lot of carbon over a 25-30 year lifetime.
Energy efficient improvements can yield long term financial benefits, making your home more saleable and future proofing your energy bills. If you are really serious about keeping your energy costs down then you must consider solar as a free, clean and renewable energy source.