The Low Carbon Partnership

How solar thermal works

Solar thermal systems – often called solar water heating – use solar 'collectors' to absorb heat energy from the sun and provide hot water. There are two main types of collector: flat plate and evacuated tube. Solar collectors are connected to a hot water cylinder via a heat exchanger coil.

Solar thermal systems use a pump to transfer heat away from the collectors and to the hot water store. A thermal controller ensures the system does not overheat during peak periods of sunshine, or freeze during cold spells. 

The technology is well established and a range of equipment has been developed to suit a variety of applications. As well as providing hot water for domestic use – sinks, baths, showers, washing machines, etc. – solar thermal can be used for large, low temperature applications, such as swimming pools.

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