Solar Water Heating Panels

A year or so ago there was a trickle of license applications to the Dulwich Estate for Solar water heating panels. This trickle had disappeared over recently months, but this month it restarted with two applications.

Brian Green bemoaned the difficulty of finding information about this often referred to technology when he decided to replace his gas boiler. Barbara Richardson responded in the next Newsletter that she had found an installer, received a quotation and proceeded to install.  The cost was assisted by grants from both the Energy Saving Trust and Southwark Council. The information for Solar Water Heating panels is out there, although you need to seek it out and allow time to get everything in place. Therefore, it is better to plan ahead before your boiler stops working. If you are having building work carried out this might be the best time to consider such an installation.

Solar water heating is a technology that has become ever more sophisticated over the decades. What does this mean for your fuel bills? It will depend on a number of factors including the size of the installation, orientation and type of Solar water heating equipment. There are flat panels as well as these evacuated tubes. Typically, depending on the weather you can expect between 30% to 70% of your hot water to come from Solar water heating. Note that a secondary heat source from a gas boiler and/or electrical immersion heater is needed for those times when demand exceeds supply.

The process does not just rely on sunlight, as daylight will also cause the temperature below the glass to rise. Think of a beneficial greenhouse effect here.

It may be that you would say of this design, not on my roof! Indeed, it seems that these evacuated tubes have a slight purple glow in a certain light. This high tech design may deter you or attract you but consider the potential savings in fuel bills and the efficiency of a particular design may be a persuasive element. Remember there are flat panels too which you may think are less innocuous to look at.

Outbuildings as those in Dovercourt Road are one place where Solar Water Heating Panels can be installed. Remember that if you are under the scheme of management of the Dulwich Estate you will need to apply for a license and don’t forget to check with the local authority Planning Department as to whether Planning Permission is needed.

The Dulwich Estate guidelines for solar panels can be found on their website, www.thedulwichestate.org.uk. Basically, the guidelines are the same for rooflights, that is not on the front elevation, therefore on the rear or side roofs and not prominently visible from public spaces like parks – but talk it over with the Estate’s scheme of management office if in doubt.

It does no harm to take professional advice and get alternative quotes to consider the options, pros and cons of different systems. This installation was carried out by Suntrader Solar Energy Ltd of Brighton tel : 01273 550225 and came with a 12 month warranty against defects in materials and workmanship on the original installation.

I will be watching with interest whether the number of license applications that come before the Estate increases over the coming months and years.

David Lloyd Roberts
Chair of the Planning and Architecture Group

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