Best Solar Thermal Panels
The best solar thermal panels can help to save you money on your energy bills. And, as a renewable heating system, you'll be cutting your carbon footprint too.
Some of the best manufacturers of solar thermal heating systems include Dimplex, Solar UK, Viessmann and Worcester Bosch. We’re going to compare these models to help you find the most suitable solar thermal panels for your home.
How solar thermal panels work
A solar thermal heating system absorbs heat from the sun to provide domestic hot water and central heating.
To do this, the solar thermal collectors contain a liquid that warms up thanks to the sun. This fluid then circulates down to an immersion heater within a hot water cylinder or a wet central heating system.
If you're looking for solar panels that convert solar energy into electricity then you'll need Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. You can find out more about solar PV panels and get free installation quotes by visiting Solar Guide.
Evacuated tubes or flat-plate?
When comparing solar thermal panels, you'll find that you have a couple of options: evacuated tube and flat plate.
In terms of appearance, flat plate collectors are the most desirable. They closely resemble solar PV panels and sit flat on the roof. Panels with evacuated tubes, on the other hand, aren't flat and have exposed pipes.
While evacuated tubes aren't necessarily the most stylish, they are the more efficient option. During the summer months, both types of solar thermal panel will be equally as efficient. The difference, however, comes when there are fewer daylight hours in the winter.
With a higher level of efficiency, it's arguable that evacuated tubes make for the best solar thermal panels.
Best solar thermal panels
Dimplex, Solar UK, Viessmann and Worcester Bosch are the best manufacturers of solar thermal panels.
|Solar Thermal Manufacturer||Solar Thermal Panel Model||Type of collector||Installation Orientation|
|Dimplex||SOLC201||Flat plate||Horizontal or vertical|
|SOLC220||Flat plate||Horizontal or vertical|
|SOLCDF22||Evacuated tubes||Horizontal or vertical|
|SOLCDF32||Evacuated tubes||Horizontal or vertical|
|Solar UK||Lazer2||Evacuated tubes||Horizontal or vertical|
|Viessmann||Vitosol 100-FM||Flat plate||Horizontal or vertical||Vitosol 200-FM||Flat plate||Horizontal or vertical|
|Vitosol 300-TM||Evacuated tubes||Horizontal or vertical|
|Worcester Bosch||Greenskies Solar-Lifestyle||Flat plate||Vertical|
|Greenskies Solar-Lifestyle||Flat plate||Horizontal|
|Greenskies Solar Lito||Flat plate||Vertical|
Dimplex solar thermal collectors are available as flat plate or evacuated tube panels. The can even be installed horizontally or vertically which means they're suitable for various roof types. Benefits of DImplex solar thermal panels include:
- Consistently reliable and effective performance as they boast technology which removes the chance of overheating
- An extensive 10 year warranty
Solar UK Lazer2 solar thermal systems are the ideal renewable heating system for UK homes. The panels have evacuated tubes and can be installed horizontally or vertically for a flexible installation. Installing Solar UK panels comes with many benefits:
- They take up less roof space than many other models
- Guaranteed to deliver the same level of performance for 25 years
- Available with a comprehensive 25 year warranty
Viessmann are a big name in home heating, mainly for their extensive range of reliable and efficient gas and oil boilers. In recent years, they've developed a number of renewable heating systems – including solar thermal panels.
They offer 3 different solar thermal ranges, 2 of which are flat plate and another has evacuated tubes.
- Can help to reduce a property's heating bills by up to 30%
- A ThermProtect absorber layer stops the panels from overheating
- Flexible fitting options with panels that can be installed above roof, within a roof and mounted onto a wall
Worcester Bosch Greenskies solar thermal panels are ideal for domestic installation and can be paired with a Greenskies hot water cylinder. All of their solar thermal panels are flat-plate but either have to be installed horizontally or vertically. This means that it could be a good idea to consult an installer to find out which range is better suited to your roof.
Greenskies Solar Lifestyle
- The highest level of efficiency of any solar thermal panels on the market
- Can be installed above roof, within the roof or even on a vertical wall
- Available with an extensive product warranty of 10 years
Greenskies Solar Lito
- MCS Solar Keymark certified
- Features a 10 year product warranty
- Each panels weighs only 30kg
How efficient are the best solar thermal panels?
Even the best solar thermal panels are unable to convert all solar energy into usable heat. Some of the light is reflected away from the panel while heat can also be lost through conduction as the panel is far hotter than the roof it sits on.
Of the two types of solar thermal panels, evacuated tubes are the more efficient option. This is because they're well insulated and don't have a pane of glass like flat-plate collectors which can reflect sunlight away.
A solar water heating system is capable of supplying a home with around 60% of its annual demand for domestic hot water. Below shows the efficiency ratings of the leading solar thermal panels.
|Best Solar Thermal Panels||Efficiency Rating|
|Solar UK Lazer2||75%|
|Worcester Bosch Greenskies Solar-Lifestyle||76.6%|
|Worcester Bosch Greenskies Solar-Lifestyle||76.6%|
|Worcester Bosch Greenskies Solar Lito||75.6%|
|Viessmann Vitosol 100-FM||74.9%|
|Viessmann Vitosol 200-FM||75.7%|
|Viessmann Vitosol 300-TM||74-76%|
Compared with solar PV, solar thermal panels are able to harness more solar energy. This is because solar PV panels lose efficiency in really hot conditions. Solar thermal panels, however, thrive when it's warmer as the heat warms up the liquid that then circulates round to the hot water cylinder.
Best solar thermal panels costs
Solar hot water system costs will depend on the number of panels needed to meet the hot water demands of your property.
Should your property have high demand for hot water then more solar thermal panels will be needed and this could see costs rise to around £7,000.
Solar thermal panels must also be installed alongside a compatible hot water cylinder. Both system and regular boilers are installed as part of a heating system that includes a hot water cylinder but combi boilers are not.
In addition to the costs of the solar thermal panels, you will also need to consider the installation. And solar installers will all have their own rates that vary depending on the complexity of the installation and size of the system. For this reason, we highly recommend comparing quotes from multiple installers.
Renewable Heat Incentive
Once the solar thermal heating system has been installed, you could then receive payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The tariffs are reevaluated on a quarterly basis and differ depending on the renewable heating system.
For applications submitted between 1 July 2020 and 30 September 2020, owners of a solar thermal heating system can receive the highest payments.
|Type of Renewable Heating System||Tariff (p/kWh)|
|Air Source Heat Pump||10.85|
|Ground Source Heat Pumps||21.16|
Can solar thermal be installed with a boiler?
It goes almost without saying that solar thermal panels are only able to generate hot water for your home during the daylight. Depending on how hot you want the water to be, a boiler may also be needed to top up the temperature.
Find out more in Solar Thermal Heating with a Boiler.
Are solar thermal panels right for your home?
The best solar thermal panels will help to lower your heating bills, shrink your carbon footprint and see you earn payments through the RHI. On the flipside, they can be costly, aren't a complete heating system and can be difficult to install.
Weigh up the benefits and considerations of solar thermal panels in Solar Thermal Heating: Pros, Cons & Costs.
Get free solar thermal quotes
We've made sourcing quotes an incredibly easy process. All you have to do is complete a simple online form on our sister website, Solar Guide, and we'll connect you with up to 3 fully-qualified solar installers based in your area who will each provide a free quote. Once you have your quotes, you can compare them which will help you to find the most competitive price for the installation.
Interested in Solar Thermal Heating?