The sun is some 150 million kilometres away from the Earth, but is still our most consistent source of energy: every day, 10,000 times more energy from the sun reaches the Earth than is used by the entire human race. And that will remain the case for the next five to six billion years.
Solar thermal energy is a way of making the sun's energy usable. This may sound complicated, but it simply describes the conversion of solar energy into thermal energy. Advanced solar technology can make use of this in the most varied ways imaginable.
Solar thermal systems for DHW heating require on average a solar collector surface area of 4 – 8 m2 for a detached house and supply enough energy for daily needs. This means that water does not need to be heated using other heat generators, considerably reducing your fuel costs. During the summer months, the solar thermal system can often supply all of the energy required.
A solar thermal system for DHW heating and additional central heating backup requires a larger collector area of 6 - 14 m2. In that case, it also supplies heat for the central heating system. Solar central heating backup works best when combined with underfloor heating.
The perfect opportunity to consider adding a solar thermal system is when constructing a new build or replacing a boiler. Whether in winter, spring, summer or autumn – solar thermal and heating systems always work together efficiently.
The first rays of sunlight in the spring can even be used to heat the water in the cylinder. During this period, heating is supplied by the conventional heat generator. In the summer, the solar thermal system can meet almost the entire need for DHW supply by itself. In winter, the conventional heating system switches back on. That goes for hot water too, of course, whenever solar energy alone is not sufficient.
A solar thermal system can provide up to 65 % of the energy required annually for DHW heating. And in summer that figure can go right up to 100 %, which means that your conventional heating system can often be completely shut down during this time. As a result, you generate zero emissions and almost no operating costs. Sunny days ahead for both the environment and your bank balance.
A solar thermal system is a futureproof means of energy supply. The German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) rewards this fact by subsidising solar thermal systems for combined DHW heating and central heating backup. The application for the subsidy funding can take up to 9 months after the system is commissioned.
Solar thermal systems are installed on the rooftop using special mounting systems. The roof surface area must be large enough and have a slope of between 30 and 70 degrees. The collectors must be able to face south, south-west, or south-east. Of course, the roof should not be shaded by surrounding trees or similar. Listed buildings are also prohibited from having solar thermal systems installed.
And to ensure that you still have hot water long after the sun goes down, you will need a storage cylinder. Keep in mind that this requires a little space.
The quickest way to find out whether a solar thermal system would be a suitable enhancement for your home is to arrange a meeting with a specialist.