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Why install thermal solar panels?

One of the great many reasons for installing solar thermal panels is that once they are installed, they are totally free to use, as no one can charge you for using solar energy emitted by the sun! One of the most common myths about solar panels is that solar panels can only work during days that are sunny. This is simply not true, solar panels are totally feasible sources of thermal energy even during the most overcast of days as they still receive diffused radiation. Some people also presume that temperature also plays a vital role in British solar panels, however according to the Solar Trade Association, the United Kingdom receives 60% of the annual amount of solar energy received on the equator, making solar panels a totally legitimate provider of domestic energy within the UK.

So we know that solar panels work, but what are the long-term benefits? A typical solar water heating system will be able to provide your house with up to 70% of your hot water needs. This could save a typical family of four, around £50-£80 per year on heating bills. If you are replacing gas heating you can typically save up to 510kg of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere if you are replacing an electronic immersion system.

But how do solar panels work? The first thing to know is that there are two different types of solar thermal collectors (panels) for water heating systems.

  • Flat plate collectors are the solar panels that you traditionally see on homes around the UK. Invented in the 1950’s they collect and absorb solar energy, which is then translated to heat energy that is then passed through to liquid stored in pipes. Flat plate collectors tend to have a life expectancy of over twenty-five years.
  • Evacuated tube collectors work like flat plate solar panels, but instead the liquid is heated in the core of the collector, instead of having to be transferred. Evacuated tube collectors, like flat plate collectors, need minimal maintenance during their life and can last for over twenty years.

The controller found in both types then gauges both the temperature of the panels and the temperature of the water in your hot water tank; once the temperature of the solar panels reaches a higher temperature than the water in your tank, water is pumped to a heat exchanger, which therefore increases the temperature of the water in your tank.


Ploughcroft are one of the most prominent and committed suppliers of solar thermal panels. With years of quality service, we are one of the most accredited installers of renewable energy in the United Kingdom, ensuring you the highest quality solar heating system available.

Ploughcroft is a family-run, Yorkshire based company that has been fitting and installing the highest quality roofing since 1997. Since developing our renewable energy department in 2006, we have successfully furnished over 3,000 photovoltaic installations into British homes.