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Can Solar Panels Heat a House All Year Round?

As utility bill prices soar and many countries prioritise reducing carbon emissions, something as simple as heating your home has become an increasing source of anxiety and guilt for many people.

That needn’t be the case, though.

Thanks to modern technological advances, it’s becoming ever more possible to harness enough power from the sun using solar panels to heat a house comfortably. 

But can solar panels heat a house all year round? If so, how? And are they worth the investment? Let’s find out…

 

What are solar panels?

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels use the light of the sun to generate electricity. They can be installed on or around a home, but are most commonly found on the rooftop, where they are most exposed to daylight.

The energy that is captured from the sun is converted into electricity via a solar inverter, and can be used to power domestic appliances, as well as electric radiators and heating systems. 

So, how do solar panels work in the winter, when there are less hours of sunlight? In those periods, the energy produced by the solar panels can be stored in solar batteries. 

The batteries dip into their reserves of energy during the less sunny hours of the day or night. So not only can solar panels heat a house all year round, they can power a house during any hour of the day. Solar batteries may be an extra investment, but they are a way to assure that you’ll never be caught short.

 

Energy efficiency first

Above all else, solar panels are environmentally friendly. They are an effective way of producing renewable energy, as the sun has more longevity than finite energy sources like coal.

Solar power also reduces carbon emissions, which means you can heat your home while lowering your carbon footprint, which means you’re doing your bit to protect the atmosphere and prevent further global warming.

Can solar panels heat a house? Solar-powered heating could be a great option for your household, depending on how big your home is, where you live geographically, and how energy efficient your home is in general. 

Your solar heating system will be smaller and less expensive if it has less work to do, and could lower your energy bills.

 

Can I save money with solar heating?

As it stands, the cost of living has become a real problem for people of different economic backgrounds. It doesn’t take much to feel the pinch when it comes to simple things like filling up the tank, getting the groceries in, and heating your home.

As the cost of living rises, solar powered heating makes more and more sense. By making an investment in solar energy for your home, you could minimise your dependence on the National Grid, and thereby save money on utility bills.

You could even make money back from the National Grid, if you decide to use solar batteries. The batteries store any energy that’s produced during daylight hours, for use in the hours of darkness or during periods of inclement weather. You might find that you generate excess electricity at times, which can then be sold back to the grid, meaning that you begin to see returns on your investment relatively quickly.

 

How Can Solar Panels Heat A House?

Now that we know that solar panels can indeed heat a house, let’s take a look at some of the heating options available.

Most homes benefit from using active solar heating using photovoltaics and a heat pump.

 

About heat pumps

Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside environment and bringing it into your home.

Air-source heat pumps use a compressor and a coil filled with refrigerant, in a similar way to your fridge or an air conditioning system. Heat pumps can even be used as air conditioners in the summer, so they could be useful in one of those heatwaves we’ve been seeing in recent years.

Ground-source heat pumps rely on a refrigerant loop buried a few meters below ground level, where the temperature of soil doesn’t fluctuate very much. The stability of the subterraneous temperature means that this type of heat pump can be even more efficient than an air-source pump, though they are more expensive to install.

Heat pumps are very energy efficient heating devices, though the amount of electricity it generates depends on the model and size. It’s best to consult a solar specialist before making your investment – they can help you to estimate your average electricity usage, and estimate the correct size of the heat pump and its run time.

Electric radiators

Can solar panels heat a house using radiators? Absolutely, yes!

Thanks to advances in electric radiator technology over the last few years, there are now many energy efficient designs and sizes to choose from.

Incredibly low-maintenance, electric radiators can easily heat your home in tandem with your solar system.

Your electric radiator should be installed and connected to your mains electrical system by a qualified electrician. They can be joined up to your solar system via the solar inverter, which will generate the electricity to power the radiators. 

One of the best things about heating your home with solar-powered electric radiators is that, in many cases, they function using smart controls.

That means you can micro-manage your heating via your phone or tablet, adjusting the temperatures even when you are not at home – which could really save you a packet when it comes to energy bills!

Solar hot water 

Not only can solar panels heat a house but they can even heat your hot water up. If your home has electric heating and an immersion heater then that could be complemented by a solar water heating system.

Solar water heating systems use solar collectors, a network of panels or tubes, to gather solar energy before converting the infra-red part of visible light into heat. 

The solar collectors are filled with a mix of water and glycol, which is pumped round a circuit, and passes through the hot water cylinder.

While these solar hot water systems are very energy efficient, they are a big investment money and space-wise. 

Offering free heated water throughout most of the year, the solar hot water system’s efficiency drops sharply in winter. In the colder months you’ll need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater.

Space could also be an issue. If you have a combi boiler, then you’ll need to install a hot water cylinder as well, so consider carefully if you have the physical space in your home to accommodate this.

Once fitted, you should carry out regular maintenance checks on the solar hot water system. The pressure gauge should be checked to ensure there are no leaks, and once every five years it needs a more thorough MOT. 

The system will need to be drained and flushed, to replace the fluids. Leaving it for longer than five years can be detrimental to the system’s efficient operation.

If in doubt, speak to a solar expert for more advice, and always ensure that a qualified professional undertakes essential repairs and maintenance work on any of your solar panels and related systems.

 

So now you know that not only can solar panels heat a house all year round, but there are various options suitable for different households and their needs. If you’d like to know more about your solar heating options, get in touch with our team of knowledgeable advisors today.