Ireland is a warm and welcoming country, but there is no denying that it can also be cold – physically cold, that is! With the new awareness of the urgency of climate change and environmental issues, homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to be ‘green’ – and still be cosy at the same time – in short, they are asking questions like, “Will solar panels heat my house?”.
With the move away from coal, solar power is rapidly increasing in popularity, but there are a couple of points to consider before you commit to weaning yourself completely away from fossil fuels.
For any home to be energy efficient, it needs to be well-insulated so heat can’t escape through vents and gaps. Let us look at how homes are heated nowadays and how easily they can be transformed into bastions of environmental friendliness with solar panels.
Will Solar Panels be Powerful Enough?
When people asked years ago “will solar panels heat my house”, we probably recall roofs covered in solar panels that only brought water lukewarm. Today, solar panels are much more efficient, putting out enough energy to keep the water hot, the lights on, and fulfilling 60% or so of the home’s heating energy needs.
There are two types of solar panels:
- Thermal solar panels, which use the sun’s heat and light to warm the water in a home.
- Photo-voltaic solar panels actively convert the sun’s heat and light into electricity, which can then be used to power many parts of your home, including the boiler system.
Improving Those Odds!
Sixty per cent is not great, you might be thinking – fine in summer, but not in the grip of a frosty winter morning in Cork. The more insulated your home is, the more difference your solar panels will be able to make. There are various types of insulation that older homes can benefit from (newer homes already tend to be built with energy efficiency in mind). These include loft insulation to prevent your warmth from dissipating through the attic or roof space. Cavity wall insulation, in which the hollow spaces between internal and external walls – already an insulating factor – are filled with lagging to retain more heat. Good insulation and energy-efficient boilers go a long way to increase that to more than 60%.
What Else Can I Do?
Rather than simply asking will solar panels heat my house, why not ask what other methods of home heating are there? Heat pumps are becoming more popular as the world goes green, and the beauty of a heat pump is that it works in a way that is complementary to your solar panels.
What is a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are devices that gather heat from the ground or air, funnelling it back into the home. There are two types of heat pump, one that is a bit more costly but offers better efficiency, the other easier to install, but slightly less effective. However, once it is in place, it will work almost endlessly to raise the temperature inside your home, no matter which you choose. The two types of heat pumps are air to ground and air to water.
1. Air to Water
Air to water heat pumps need a large unattractive unit to be placed outside your home, so you should choose the location with care. This is where the heat will be transferred into the water, so it is warm and ready when you need it.
2. Air to Ground
Air to ground pumps are more efficient, but they need more intensive work done during installation. During the installation process, multiple pipes are buried under the ground, and the heat extracted from the air is transferred to the water in these pipes. Being underground, there is less chance of the heat escaping before you have a chance to use it.
Will Solar Panels Heat My House in Conjunction with a Heat Pump?
The short answer here is yes. As mentioned above, heat pumps work very well with solar systems, because they are most efficient at opposite periods in the winter. Heat pumps operate best between October to December, falling behind between February and April, while solar systems are best between February and April, lagging during the dark days of November and December. With both systems working well, and a nicely insulated home, there is no reason why you can’t stay warm all through the winter, without needing to fall back on fossil fuels.
Some Commonly Asked Questions
Can My Solar Panels Operate my Heat Pump?
Yes, the technologies are designed to work well with one another, so that you can enjoy truly green energy: the solar panels powering the heat pump which then retains and recycles the heat in your home and its surroundings. It’s not quite perpetual energy but can feel close sometimes.
When is the Best Time to Install Heating Systems?
With both solar panels and heat pumps, it is best if they can be included in the build from the very beginning. If the technology is in place and properly plumbed in right from the off, the system is better equipped to work efficiently. This is not to say that older houses will do badly with these systems: it might take a little more work, but the same systems can be retrofitted to most houses.
What About Charging My Electric Car?
Having an EV charger installation at your home is no longer a rare occurrence. And, yes, your solar panels absolutely can charge your electric car too! Any electrical contractor will be able to advise you whether your solar panel system will produce enough power for both the car and your home, or if you should invest in a separate solar unit purely for the car. With the latter, you will even be able to charge your car overnight, as the power is kept stored and waiting for you.
Will I Still Need Regular Electrical Maintenance?
Yes, any time you have electrical devices that are in frequent use, they should be subjected to periodic inspection to make sure they are still working safely and well, even if you are using alternative power sources. Any electrician should be familiar with PAT testing (portable appliance testing) and will be able to whiz through your home and leave you with peace of mind, knowing your electrical items are working well – it is already the law that businesses have all their appliances PAT tested annually.
Other Benefits to Solar Power
Solar energy is delivered right to your home, from the sun to your panels and from there right to your electrical system. As well as ensuring that you always have an electricity supply, you will save money on gas and electricity bills.
The more efficient your solar system, the less you must pay, and there have even been a few days when those solar power users who are connected to the National Grid have been able to add power into the grid, rather than using it! Imagine having as much heat, light and hot water as you like: and not having to pay a penny for it!
Call JK Services Today!
Now you know a little about solar panels and heat pumps, and how a combination of the two can give you a warmer home while being environmentally friendly – and reducing your utility bills at the same time – why not get in touch with JK Services.
We are waiting for your call and can talk you through the whole process from the initial quotation to you finally flicking the switch on your new green and super cosy home! So, will solar panels heat my house? Yes, they will!
If you would like more info on solar blogs such as ‘do solar panels work when its cloudy‘, ‘how to clean solar panels on your roof‘, ‘how much does it cost to charge an electric car‘, ‘are all electric car chargers the same‘ and ‘are solar panels worth it in Ireland‘, check out our news section. Also in regards to solar panel grants, visit SEAI for more information.