Do Solar Thermal Panels Work With Combi Boilers? A Perfect Match?

Joe Brennan
Jun 3, 2023

Are your energy bills becoming too high? Do you feel weighed down by the constant rise in fuel costs and the impending doom of fossil fuels running out? If these questions resonate with you, you’re not alone. 

Thousands of Irish residents are considering renewable energy sources, primarily solar power, to resolve these issues. But here's the catch - many homes in Ireland use combi boilers, and you're probably wondering, "Do Solar Thermal Panels Work with Combi Boilers?" 

Let's delve into the details to find the answer.

Understanding Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal panels, also known as solar collectors, are designed to absorb sunlight and convert it into heat. This heat is then used to warm water stored in a hot water cylinder.

What Are Combi Boilers?

Combi boilers, short for combination boilers, provide hot water and heating on demand directly from the mains water supply. This means there's no need for a separate hot water storage cylinder or a cold water storage tank.

Can Solar Thermal Panels Work with Combi Boilers?

The short answer is yes, solar thermal panels can work with combi boilers. However, it’s not a straightforward operation and might require modifications. Combi boilers aren't designed for secondary hot water supplies; hence integrating them with solar thermal panels isn't straightforward. But don't worry; we have solutions.

How to Integrate Solar Thermal Panels with Combi Boilers?

Integrating solar thermal panels with combi boilers can seem complex, given that combi boilers are not typically designed for a secondary hot water supply. 

However, this task can be accomplished effectively with a professional approach and the correct equipment. Let's explore how you can incorporate solar thermal panels with combi boilers.

1) Incorporating a Thermal Store Cylinder

A thermal store cylinder, also known as a heat bank, serves as a thermal battery, storing heat from various sources for later use. Here's how it works in a system with a combi boiler and solar thermal panels:

Solar Collector

Solar thermal panels, also known as solar collectors, absorb the sun's energy and convert it into heat. This heat is transferred to a fluid (usually a mix of water and antifreeze) that circulates through pipes in the solar collector.

Heat Exchange

The heated fluid is transferred to a coil within the thermal store cylinder. The heat from the coil is transferred to the water stored within the cylinder.

Integration with Combi Boiler

The thermal store cylinder is connected to the Combi boiler system. When hot water is demanded, the thermal store provides pre-heated water to the combi boiler. As the boiler receives pre-heated water, it requires less energy to heat it to the desired temperature.

2) Creating a Bivalent System

A bivalent system is a dual system that makes use of two heat sources—in this case, a combi boiler and solar thermal panels. This system allows the two heat sources to complement each other rather than work against each other. Here's how this process works:

Solar Thermal Panels: These panels capture sunlight and convert it into heat, then heat the water.

Combi Boiler Activation: When the heat generated by the solar thermal panels is insufficient (like during cloudy days or at night), the combi boiler kicks in, ensuring a constant supply of hot water.

Complementary Work: During sunny days, the solar thermal panels take the lead in providing hot water. This system ensures that the combi boiler only operates when necessary, thus saving energy.

The integration of solar thermal panels with combi boilers requires professional expertise. The process can involve plumbing, electrical, and even structural considerations. 

The team at Going Solar has the necessary knowledge and experience to handle such installations, ensuring that you get an efficient, safe, and reliable solar-combi boiler system. Contact us today to get started with your transition to renewable energy.

Benefits of Using Solar Thermal Panels with Combi Boilers

Cost Savings

The most apparent benefit of this system is cost savings. Solar energy is free, so harnessing it significantly reduces energy bills.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

By using solar thermal panels, you contribute to a greener and healthier environment by reducing carbon emissions.

Energy Efficiency

Solar thermal systems are extremely efficient, especially during the sunny summer, providing up to 60-70% of your hot water needs.

Long-term Investment

Solar thermal panels offer a significant return on investment over time. Although the initial setup cost might seem steep, the savings on energy bills and the durability of these systems (often up to 25 years or more) mean that they eventually pay for themselves.

Independence from Energy Price Hikes

Energy prices fluctuate and often increase over time due to various market factors. You gain independence from these price hikes by harnessing solar energy, a free and abundant resource.

Increased Property Value

Properties equipped with solar thermal systems tend to have higher resale value. As more people become environmentally conscious, energy-efficient homes are becoming increasingly desirable in the real estate market.

Eligibility for Government Grants and Incentives

In Ireland, homeowners who install solar thermal panels can avail themselves of the Solar Water Heating Grant, providing financial assistance to those who wish to switch to renewable energy.

Reliability and Low Maintenance

Solar thermal systems are known for their reliability and require minimal maintenance, making them an attractive option for homeowners. Regular inspections and occasional professional servicing should keep them running optimally.

Job Creation and Economic Growth

On a broader scale, the push towards renewable energy creates jobs and contributes to economic growth. By choosing solar power, you're indirectly supporting this trend.

Hire Going Solar – Your Trusted Solar Panel Installation Company in Ireland

Interested in integrating solar thermal panels with your combi boiler? Going Solar, has you covered. Our team of experts can comprehensively evaluate your home and offer the best solution that suits your needs.

Final Thoughts

The journey to energy independence may seem daunting, but the destination is rewarding. So, do solar thermal panels work with combi boilers? 

Yes, they certainly can with the right system design and professional installation. Contact Going Solar today, and let's take this significant step towards a sustainable future together.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can solar thermal panels heat all the water I need?

While solar thermal panels are efficient, they may not meet all your hot water needs, especially during the winter or on cloudy days. A supplementary system like a combi boiler is usually required.

Are solar thermal panels suitable for every home?

Most homes can benefit from solar thermal panels, but factors like roof direction, shading, and space must be considered.

Is the installation of solar thermal panels disruptive?

The installation involves roof work and connecting the system to your water cylinder or boiler, which can cause minimal disruption.

How long do solar thermal panels last?

With proper maintenance, solar thermal panels can last up to 25 years.

Can I install solar thermal panels myself?

Installing solar thermal panels requires professional knowledge and skills, especially when integrating them with a combi boiler. It's best to hire a professional company like Going Solar.

Can I combine solar thermal panels with other types of boilers aside from combi boilers?

Yes, solar thermal panels can be integrated with other types of boilers, including system boilers and regular boilers.

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*FYI, parts of this blog post were drafted by artificial technlogy. But rest assured, it's been thoroughly researched, edited, reviewed and me & my team.
Author Fahad Zahid
Founder @ Going Solar

Joe Brennan, the founder of Going Solar, is dedicated to making solar power mainstream in Ireland and meet SEAI objectives. With a focus on affordability and sustainability, he is bringing renewable energy solutions to homes, reducing costs & environmental impact.