Running an Electric Combi Boiler with Solar PV
Electric combi boilers have many benefits but the high running costs of electricity see many turn to gas.
However, not all homes are connected to the gas network and, even for those that are, there’s a way to make electric boiler running costs lower than gas boilers: solar PV.
What is an electric combi boiler
Rather than running on gas, which is common place in the UK, an electric combi boiler heats water for central heating and domestic hot water using only electricity.
Electric combi boilers don’t take up as much space as gas boilers, have fewer moving parts and don’t require an annual service. The installation of an electric boiler is a much simpler process than a gas boiler as there’s no need for a flue or condensate pipe to expel waste gases, meaning they don’t have to be fitted onto external walls.
Even the best electric boilers are only able to meet fairly low demand for heating and hot water, which makes them ideal for small homes and flats, as well as properties off the gas network.
The only downside to an electric boiler is the high running costs of electricity but that’s where solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can make them much more affordable.
What are the benefits of an electric boiler?
While electricity is expensive, there are still many benefits to installing a boiler, including a couple that will save you money in other areas:
- Operate quietly
- Don’t produce waste gases so there’s no risk of a carbon monoxide leak
- No need to arrange an annual boiler service
- Fewer moving parts means there’s less chance for a fault to develop
- Often cheaper to install than gas and oil boilers
- Take up less space than other boiler types
- Solar compatibility – save money on the running costs with a solar central heating system
Not needing to arrange an annual service could save you between £50 – £160 each year when compared to a gas boiler and with less chance of an issue developing, you could avoid repair costs too.
We put electric and gas boilers head-to-head to find out which could work out cheaper during their lifetime in Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers: Pros, Cons & Running Costs.
Electric boiler with solar PV
Solar PV panels take in solar energy from the sun and convert it into electricity that can be used around the home.
Naturally, solar panels are only able to generate renewable electricity during the day, which would mean having to rely on your energy supplier during the night, that is unless you install a solar battery.
Solar batteries store up any energy produced by the solar panels that doesn’t get used, rather than it being sent to the National Grid. Storing this excess solar energy means that your property has a supply of free renewable energy on hand when the panels aren’t generating energy. That’s potentially round-the-clock power for your electric combi boiler.
The free renewable energy generated by solar PV panels will be able to provide electricity to an electric boiler, helping you to avoid the high price of electricity.
Electric boiler with solar thermal
While solar PV panels generate electricity, solar thermal panels use solar energy to heat water for the central heating, taps and showers, making a renewable solar heating system.
Solar thermal panels look much like solar PV panels but they have a fluid circulating through them that gets warm thanks to heat from the sun before travelling down to the hot water tank to heat the stored water.
Before pairing a solar thermal system with an electric boiler and hot water cylinder, it’s important to make sure that the systems are compatible with one another.
|Electric Boiler Manufacturer||Solar Thermal Compatible?|
|Electric Heating Company||Possible but not recommended unless the solar thermal system is fairly large|
|Heatrae Sadia||Solar-ready heating systems available|
|Thermaflow||Recommend the Thermaflow solar system|
Why is electricity an expensive fuel?
In the UK, the average cost of gas is 3.8p/kWh while electricity is much more expensive, costing 14.4p/kWh, with the price varying depending on tariff and your region.
The reason electricity is so much more expensive is because it’s considered carbon intensive due to the production process. The vast majority of UK electricity production is achieved using fossil fuels, which results in carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. Once electricity arrives at your property, it will efficiently provide energy with little to no waste.
It’s important to note that not all electricity is generated in this way, with more energy suppliers turning to renewable technologies such as solar and wind. As more suppliers turn to these more sustainable production methods, the carbon intensity of electricity will decline and could see the price drop.
According to the National Grid, electricity production could be a zero carbon process by as soon as 2025.
Find out more in Electric Boiler Efficiency Explained.
How much does an electric combi boiler cost?
The price of an electric boiler can range from around £1,000 to £4,500 with the total differing greatly depending on:
- Manufacturer and model
- Whether an external cylinder is needed
It’s important not to forget that the installation costs are separate to the cost of the boiler itself. How much you end up paying for the installation will depend on the installer carrying out the work. For that reason, we highly recommend comparing multiple quotes and you can get free quotes using Boiler Guide.
How much do solar panels cost?
The price of a solar PV system will vary depending on the number of panels being installed, how simple the installation will be and, quite simply, the installer you decide to hire.
Fortunately, solar panels are at their lowest price since 2010 and a 2-4 kW system is likely to cost between £4,000 – £6,000, which is a strong investment when you consider the savings to be made on energy bills over the years.
If you’re looking to store excess solar energy for use in the evening and overnight, a solar battery could cost between £1,700 to £7,900 and above.
Get free electric boiler quotes today
When looking to have a new boiler installed, we highly recommend getting quotes from multiple installers. All boiler installers will have their own price when it comes to fitting a new boiler so comparing a few will help you to find the best possible price.
To make things easier, complete our simple online form, letting us know about the work you want, and we’ll match your needs with a Boiler Guide Approved Heating Engineer based in your local area who will each provide a free quote.
Best of all, it’s completely free and there’s no-obligation to accept any of the quotes you receive.