Is my home suitable for solar water heating?

A good location for solar water heating (SWH) collectors is a south-facing roof which is free of shade has a tilt angle of between 20 and 50 degrees. However, even panels facing due east or west can face reasonably well.

Solar output depending on tilt and orientation of roof

Solar output depending on tilt and orientation of roofThe figure above shows how the performance of a solar water heating system depends on the tilt (pitch) angle of the roof as well as on the orientation. For example, the figure shows that a solar panel mounted on a south-west facing roof with a 40 degree tilt would produce 5% less output than a panel with perfect tilt and orientation. Even panels facing east or west can still produce 80% of the output of perfectly oriented panels.

Rooftop panels are the most common, but they can also be mounted at ground level. The SWH system heats water in a cylinder, therefore it is difficult to add solar water heating to a heating system that doesn’t have a hot water cylinder (e.g. a “combi” gas boiler which heats the water on demand when you turn on a hot water tap).

Roof mounted panels are usually a ‘permitted development’, so you won’t need planning permission. Exceptions include National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and listed buildings.

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