How do solar panels work?
Solar panels turn heat into electricity, which can be used to power your home, saving you money on your energy bills.
In very simple terms, light causes electrons to move, and that movement generates electricity.
The most efficient use of solar energy in Ireland is for a domestic hot water system.
There are many different systems available and a number of different factors which will influence the output of your system. At Total Heating, we will carry out an assessment to make sure you end up with a system that works optimally for you.
A solar water heating system is made up of a collector and a cylinder. The collector ‘collects’ the electricity from the sun’s energy, while the cylinder stores the heat that is generated.
Benefits of solar panels
- The sun is a free and unlimited source of energy – why not tap into it?
- It saves you money in the long run – a solar water heating system can produce 50% to 60% of your hot water needs
- Improves your BER rating
- It may increase the value of your home – Ireland has committed to reducing its fossil fuel use by 2050 so there will be more and more interest in solar energy
- It’s a clean energy – using it does not pollute the environment
- It’s a green energy – by using fewer fossil fuels, you will be helping to slow down global warming
- It’s a secure energy source – a large private company cannot buy the sun, like they could buy an oil rig, which means it will be readily available to everyone for ever
There are two main types of collectors:
Flat Plate Solar Panels
- Can be integrated with the fabric of the building (in-roof) as well as on-roof
- Heavy, rigid, robust box-like structure
- Arguably looks better due to flat surface areas
- Loses heat through convection when weather is cold or wet
Evacuated Tube Solar Panels
- Can only be mounted on-roof
- Lightweight structure, individual tubes on frame
- Approximately 20% more yield per m2 of aperture area than flat plates
- Do not lose as much heat in wet and cold conditions
Solar water heating
How it works
How solar water heating works
Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. Solar water heaters use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in the collector.
Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. The tank can be a modified standard water heater, but it is usually larger and very well insulated. Solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector.
In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.
Cost and saving
The cost and savings of solar water heating
In an average household one-third of the energy bill will be spent heating water. With a solar power system we estimate a 70% reduction in your water heating costs. This equates to a saving of up to €800 per year for the average family. This means you will see an approximate return of 17% on your investment in the first year.
Depending on the occupancy and size of the property you may be entitled to an €1250 grant from the SEAI Better Home Energy Scheme. The VAT may also be reclaimed under 2014 Budget criteria.
The benefits of solar water heating
1. Reduce your dependence upon the utility. With energy prices on the rise, protect yourself by harnessing endless free energy. Independence can be a very gratifying experience.
2. Financial benefits. With up to 70% saving on your fossil fuel bills, it is easy to see the benefits, helping systems to recoup the original investment in 5 years.
3. Environmental Impact. The installation of a solar power system heating system will provide you with free hot water from the sun. This will reduce the use of your gas/oil boiler or your electric immersion for most of the year, reducing your CO2 emissions by up to a tonne per annum.
4. BER Rating. All homes being rented or sold in Ireland are required to have a BER inspection carried out. Having a solar power system in place will mean improve your BER rating dramatically. You may also be entitled to a €50 grant on any BER inspection carried out.
Frequently asked questions
What is the payback period of a solar water heating system?
This is depends on the many variables such as the cost of your system but it can be as quick as 5 years.
Electricity/gas bills will drop from the day you install it as you will use them less.Also the life of your boiler will be extended by approximately 20% as it will not have to work as hard.
Does a solar water heating system consume electricity?
Yes it does. Though it uses only a very small amount, all solar system pumps must be magnetically driven, super low energy pumps. These only cost around €2 per year to run.
What sort of maintenance is required?
Under normal circumstances there is no need for any maintenance with your system. It is recommended to change the anti-freeze every 2-3 years.
Can I receive financial grant assistance ?
Every existing household (built before 2006) is entitled to a government grant for installing a solar panel. The grant is currently €1,200. Click here for more information on grants for solar water heating systems.
How it works
How photovoltaics systems works
Photovoltaics systems (also known as solar PV) convert solar radiation directly into electricity using solar PV panels. This process is called photovoltaic effect – `photo´ meaning light and `voltaic´ meaning volts or electricity.
Solar PV systems rely on sunlight but they don’t need direct sunlight to work – they will still generate small amounts of electricity on cloudy days.
A typical solar PV system consists of:
1. Solar PV Panels
3. Solar Mounting Gear
Cost and saving
The cost and savings of photovoltaics systems
A solar PV system does cost a few thousand euros to install but when installed in the optimum position, the system can harness over 1000 kW’s per 1 kW installed.
A 1 kW system typically consists of up to four panels, as each panel typically has a maximum output of 250W´s. Thus a 2 kW typically consists of 8 panels and so on.
If we pay 22c per kW including all the additional charges, then a 1 kW solar system can save EURO 220 in the first year and the savings will increase year on year along with energy price rises, which has been on average 7% per year since 1993.
The more panels you can fit on your roof, the better. You will not only produce more electricity, but you also have made a better investment as the cost of electricity rises year on year.
The benefits of photovoltaics systems
1. Reduce your energy bills
2. Protect yourself from the rising cost of power
3. Generates your own electricity
4. Increase the value of your home
5. Improve dramatically your BER rating
6. Reduce your carbon footprint
Frequently asked questions
Will solar panels work in Ireland ?
Yes solar pv panels will convert any daylight into electricity, the strong the light the more electricity they can generate.
When does a solar pv system make it money back ?
Typically a solar pv system will make back the money it cost to set up in around 8 years.
Do i still need to be connected to the grid ?
Yes you will still need to be connected to the grid, this is because you will still need electricity from the grid at night, when its raining and if you are using more electricity then your solar panels are generating.
Is my house suitable for solar panels ?
Most house (around 95%) are suited to using solar panels.