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Get the best out of your solar thermal system

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 11 January 2011 at 9:04 am

Installing the solar thermal panels on your roof is just the first step. It's very important to know and work with your system to get the best out of it.

Key to maximising the amount of water heated by the solar panels is to only turn on your back up boiler after the sun has gone down, so that you can get the best out of the sun's heat. 

If you want to take it a step further, use the solar controller (thermostat, which tells you the temperature of the water in the cylinder) to judge whether or not you need to turn on the back up boiler.

About the author: Gabriel Wondrausch is founder and director of SunGift Solar, which installs solar thermal and other renewable energy systems in the South West of England.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one

Gabriel Wondrausch

Gabriel Wondrausch from SunGift EnergyComment left on: 11 May 2011 at 10:46 am


Apologies for the delay in responding. The heat dump radiator you have installed is designed to protect the system during sunny periods when it is not being used.  Any excess energy should be diverted away from the system through this radiator.  Another option is to install a temperature relief valve on the cylinder so that when the water gets up to temperature the cylinder refills with cold water to allow the solar thermal system to get rid of its heat.  Unfortunately, aside from covering the collector there isn’t really a way of stopping the system from heating.  The only practical control options involve dumping the excess heat.  It sounds like you are very happy with the systems and so I would recommend you speak to your installer to see what they would recommend.

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bootsComment left on: 28 April 2011 at 11:22 am

Hi! Gabriel. My solar hot water system is super efficient! The panel is on the roof of my 2 storey house and we also have a computer controlled "dump" radiator in the loft to lose excess heat. I go away for a month or more several times in the year. Climbing on the roof to cover the panel when we are not in residence, or turn the tubes 180°, is a pain (the installer kindly and willingly does this at present); is there a simple way to prevent the system gathering energy in our absence? I also have PV installed by the same installer and both do more than what we were promised. Absolutely brilliant! Thanks. Boots 

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