solar hot water systems


Heat water for your home using energy from the sun

Solar water heating systems use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. A conventional boiler or immersion heater is then used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.

See how solar water heating systems work

See how you can use solar hot water and solar electricity together

How do solar water heating systems work?

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to warm water which is stored in a hot water cylinder.

There are two types of solar water heating panels, they are evacuated tubes (like in the picture above) and flat plate collectors. Flat plates collectors can be fixed on the roof tiles or integrated into the roof.

A boiler or immersion heater can be used as a back up to heat the water further to reach the temperature set by the cylinders thermostat when the solar water heating system does not reach that temperature. (The cylinder thermostat should be set at 60 degrees centigrade.)

Larger solar panels can also provide energy to heat your home as well - though usually only in the summer months when home heating is unnecessary.

The benefits of solar water heating

Is a solar water heating system suitable for my home?

To tell if solar water heating is right for you, there are a few key questions to consider:

Read more about planning permission for renewable energy technologies

A competent accredited installer will be able to assess your home and help you choose the best set-up to meet your needs.

To find out if a solar hot water system is suitable for your home use our energy selector tool - coming soon.

Cost and savings

Costs for a typical solar water heating system range from £3,000 to £5,000.

Savings are moderate - a solar water heating system can provide about a third of your hot water needs, reducing your water heating bill by between £50 and £85 per year. It will also save up to 580kg of CO2 emissions, depending on what fuel you will be replacing.

Maintenance costs are very low. Most solar water heating systems come with a 5-10 year warranty and require little maintenance. You should take a look at your panels every year and have them checked more thoroughly by an accredited installer every 3-5 years, or as specified by your installer.

Fuel Displaced £ Saving per year CO2 saving per year
Gas £50 260 kg
Electricity £85 580 kg
Oil £50 320 kg
Solid £65 530 kg

All savings are approximate and are based on the hot water heating requirements of a 3 bed semi detached home with a 3.5m squared panel.

Solar water heating systems tend to require little maintenance


Find out more

What is suitable for your home?
To find renewable technologies to suit your home, try the
Energy Saving Trust energy selector tool

If you live in Scotland, our renewables advisors can visit your home for free to tell you which renewable technology is right for you. Book a home visit through your local advice centre

For more information on home energy generation technologies, contact your local Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre on 0800 512 012.

For specific technology questions, visit the Solar Trade Association

Find a grant to help with the costs of installing renewable and low carbon technologies - visit the DECC-funded
Low Carbon Buildings Programme

Living in Scotland? Apply for a grant under the Energy Saving Scotland home renewables grant scheme.

To be eligible for a grant you will need to