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Alternative Choice Of Being Sustainable

What is Solar Water Heating?

Solar Water Heating (SWH) is a system for heating water using energy from the sun. Solar energy is collected by a panel, which is connected by pipes to a hot water storage device such as a hot water cylinder.

Systems can be installed for domestic hot water, swimming pools, caravans and similar applications.

The main focus in this pack, is on domestic water heating, but the same principles apply to all solar systems. A description of a typical domestic hot water heating system is described here.

Why install Solar Water Heating?

  • It can save you money using free energy from the sun to heat your water
  • It helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • It takes your hot water system into the 21st century
  • It could add to the value of your house
  • It can be a fun DIY project
  • If installed properly, it should be virtually maintenance free

What happens in different seasons of the year?

SWH depends on radiation not direct sunlight so it works even on dull days. However, in winter, although a panel can be effective in helping warm your water, you will still need your existing hot water heater to provide most of your water heating needs.

You should note that these systems are not designed to work in conjunction with your central heating radiators – they can only heat your water.

However, in the Autumn, Spring and Summer, a solar panel can yield surprising results, often not requiring any support from your boiler.

Depending upon your system and how and when you use your hot water, you could find that almost all your needs are met by a SWH panel at these times of the year


  • You need either a southerly facing roof or two roofs facing east and west
  • The panel usually sits on top of existing tiles/slates
  • You can carry out a DIY installation or can use an approved contractor
  • SWH systems start at about for a DIY installation

Disclaimer: Whilst many people have successfully fitted their own solar panels, it is important to recognise the dangers involved, especially when working on a roof. This information pack does not attempt to deal with issues surrounding health and safety for DIY installations of systems. As such, EcoLocal urge extreme caution if you intend to carry out the work yourself.