Solar Panels are undoubtedly the future of the United Kingdom. From government measures to individual needs, everyone turns to solar thermal systems for solutions.

Heating and hot water could cost you more than you think. It is said that these expenses amount to almost 70% of what you pay on your energy bills. And that’s precisely why you need a solar water heating system.

Solar Energy in the UK

The solar energy system is one of the main components that will drive the UK’s goal towards net-zero. According to data, solar capacity is expected to double by 2030, with the business sector running at the same rate as today. The government is focusing on a ground-mounted solar national park.

The sun’s energy is better harnessed via solar panels. So, they are one of the primary forms of renewable energy in the UK and are in peak demand.

You are well aware of the climatic crisis the world is caught up in. Bearing this in mind, shifting to renewable energy is the bright choice for the future.

Come to think of it, installing a solar system at your home would be a better choice for shifting to renewable energy. These panels are also energy-efficient and help you save money!

What are Solar Panels?

Solar PV PanelsA solar panel helps convert the sun’s radiation into electricity. It functions based on the photovoltaic effect. That is, when the direct sunlight touches the panel, the sun’s energy gets absorbed by the solar collectors or cells.

These cells then vibrate and help in generating electricity. This brings us to the most debated question – Why do you need a solar heating system?

What is the need for Solar Panels?

The environmental concerns around us are why we should start using solar power. Other than that, our traditional power source is derived from limited sources. So it is wise to shift to solar systems.

A solar panel system is your one-time investment and is a free power source. This way, you save money and reduce energy costs.

Are you wondering whether to choose solar tube collectors or solar panels? Well, solar panels are a clear winner with a better efficiency rate.

Benefits of a solar panel system

  • Good for the environment
  • Free Source of Energy
  • Reduces energy bills
  • Generates heat
  • Fewer electricity blackouts
  • Fulfils your hot water requirements.

Types of Solar Panels for Heating

The solar energy sector has been rapidly developing over the years. It has been adapting and producing newer varieties based on the increasing demand and choices. This has led to the creation of multiple types of panels.

The system terms and complicated types could be overwhelming. So here is a brief explanation about different types of panels.

Understanding Solar PV & Thermal

The first step in getting to know the varieties of solar panels is learning to differentiate solar PV and solar thermal. The absorbed energy from the sun is used in different ways.

If you want to generate electricity, opt for solar PV panels. And go for a thermal panel if you’re going to produce heat and use a solar hot water cylinder. Here’s why.

Solar Thermal

The solar thermal system is used to generate heat and get warm water. Say you are looking for solar water heating systems, then it is better to choose a solar thermal system. It heat pumps the round liquid due to the sun and helps get a hot water tank.

Solar ThermalIn simple words, it absorbs the sun’s energy to heat your household water. The installation of the thermal panel and PV panel is the same. You place it on the roof and help it get maximum heat from the sun.

The solar heating system works in such a way that the heat generated from the panel gives warm water. It is then stored in a hot water cylinder. Whenever there is a need, the heat water stored is used.

Solar PV

Solar photovoltaic is commonly known as solar PV panels. It is used to generate electricity. Using direct sunlight, solar PV panels produce electricity and pass it to the functioning of electrical appliances at home.

Since solar PV panels produce electricity, there is always confusion when it comes to using them for hot water purposes.

But technically, solar PV does not just reduce costs on electricity but also helps you get free water. The electricity generated using solar PV can be used to heat your hot water cylinder.

Immersion heater for heating

If you have an existing cylinder with an immersion heater, you could easily use solar-generated electricity to boil hot water. Diverting the electricity to your immersion heater can be done using a solar power diverter.

An immersion heater is a heating element in your hot water cylinder that uses electricity for heating hot water. So what’s a solar power diverter? On many occasions, your solar PV panel might produce excess electricity.

In such situations, a solar power diverter will divert the excess energy to the immersion heater in your hot water cylinder. Say you turn on your kettle to heat water; when the immersion heater gets the electricity, the diverter will redirect that electricity to your heating system.

Photovoltaic Thermal Collectors

The right mix of the best in both solar PV and solar thermal panels is solar photovoltaic thermals. These are also called Photovoltaic Thermal Collectors or hybrid solar collectors. This hybrid panel uses energy from the sun to produce electricity and heat.

Hybrid Solar Collectors produce a better overall efficiency rate than solar PV or solar thermal panels.

Heat Pumps

Heat Pumps are an integration of solar thermal panels and heat pump technology. It is commonly known as a Solar-Assisted Heat Pump (SAHP). Solar thermal panels produce the heat to feed the heat pump. Then using a heat exchanger, the pump heats the water in your existing cylinder.

Renewable Heat Incentive

When you install solar thermal panels at your home, you can minimise expenses and earn money. Surprising right?

The government pays a certain amount as Renewable Heat Incentive (RCH) based on the estimated amount of heat produced. This system was introduced to reimburse the amount spent on installing solar water heating systems.

Investing in a Solar Water Heating System

Solar Water HeatingThere is no rule of ‘one size fits all when it comes to solar water heating systems.’ This is where it gets tricky. All the panels are equally equipped and are better in one or the other aspect. So when you choose a panel, choose one that fits your needs.

Here are a few tips that will come in handy:


Check the kind of glass used. It is always said that tempered or strengthened glass, though expensive, is the better choice.


Analyse how much power your house needs and measure the size of your roof.


The market offers both cheap and expensive panels. The costs vary depending on the efficiency and lifespan of the panel. So choose one that your budget can cover.

Climatic Conditions

Examine your place’s climatic and weather conditions before deciding on a panel.


When compared, some types are more visually pleasing than others. If you want something aesthetic, well, buy one that looks appealing to you.

While you focus more on buying the right panel, do not forget that the longevity of the system lies in proper maintenance checks. Though feed-in tariff plans have ended, investing in solar hot water systems is still a wise choice.

Pro tip

It is said that a panel placed in the south facing roof produces the most power, so plan accordingly.

Is Planning Permission Mandatory for Your Solar Panel?

Planning permission is necessary only in some situations. Fortunately, it mainly falls within the permitted development rules.

The permitted development rules for panels include –

  • They should not protrude above 150 mm of the roof.
  • They should not be facing the road.
  • They should not be more than the highest part of the roof (The highest part of the roof excluding the chimney).
  • Other such rules.

Keep in mind that the rules to obtain planning permission differ for properties in the conservation area.

Final Thoughts

There is a need now for shifting to solar power than ever before. The market is now offering the best prices for the solar water heating system. Investing in a solar panel for central heating and solar thermal systems are a significant one-time investment that will cater to your energy and electricity needs.

It also reduces your huge payout on energy bills. Solar panels help you reduce your carbon footprint, and you could give back a little more to the environment.

The future of solar panels is shining bright with the sun’s light and energy. Choosing a better solar heating system always boils down to your needs and requirements. Rest assured, you are making an intelligent choice for a smarter you and a brighter future.