Solar Thermal

FAQs

If you’re thinking about installing a Sunuser solar thermal system, the chances are you’ve got some questions to ask us. Please find below some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is the RHI?

The RHI is the Renewable Heat Incentive – this is a government-backed scheme that pays home owners, private landlords, self-builders and Registered Providers of Social Housing for the generation of heat from renewable energy sources. By installing a Sunuser solar thermal system you would be eligible to receive RHI payments. Payments are guaranteed to be made on a quarterly basis for seven years and are TAX FREE and INDEX LINKED.

How do I apply for the RHI?

You can apply online at the Ofgem website. You will need your MCS certificate and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – both of which will have been provided by Sunuser. The application process has been designed to be user-friendly but if you’re having problems, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and why do I need one?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows you the energy efficiency and energy consumption of your home and gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). It is valid for 10 years and is needed whenever a property is sold or rented. As part of our service we will arrange for an Energy Assessor to visit your home to carry out this assessment. In order to be eligible to receive the RHI payments, your property needs to have had an EPC and have loft and cavity wall insulation where practical. Self builders must get an RdSAP EPC.

Can I have a solar thermal system if I’ve already got a PV system?

Yes, they are two separate systems and work independently of one another. Solar thermal systems can be installed on the same roof as a PV system or alternatively they can be installed on a different roof or mounted on the ground. Many Sunuser customers have both solar thermal and solar PV systems. N.B. They cannot be combined or converted in any way – solar thermal systems generate hot water and solar PV systems generate electricity.

I have an inner roof valley/my roof is partly shaded, will a solar thermal system work?

Yes, in contrast to PV systems which are drastically affected by shade, solar thermal systems perform well in inner roof valleys. They operate by using heat generated by the sun and usually significantly less space is required for solar thermal collectors. We strive to design systems to ensure optimum performance and if we consider a roof unsuitable we would advise you accordingly.

My house doesn't face south and I live in Scotland - will I still get good results from my solar thermal system?

Yes, solar thermal systems will work efficiently and effectively on easterly and westerly, as well as southerly facing houses. The highly ‘Advanced’ solar thermal collectors we recommend are specifically designed to operate efficiently and effectively throughout the entire UK. All our systems are designed to MCS and British standards for optimum performance taking into account geographical location and individual property requirements.

Is Planning Permission required for a solar thermal installation?

For most properties, Planning Permission is not required – a solar system would be classed as a ‘permitted development’. Only in certain conservation areas where an Article 4 directive is in force may Planning Permission be required. Listed Building Consent is always required for solar installations on Listed Buildings or dwellings within the curtilage of a Listed Building. Sunuser will liaise with your Local Planning Authority and complete and submit any necessary applications on your behalf.

Do solar thermal systems still work in the winter?

Yes. Water temperatures will be raised even in the winter months, reducing the input (kWh of heat) required from your existing boiler or immersion heater to bring your water to a usable temperature. Many of our customers find that their Sunuser solar thermal system provides for their water needs with minimal input from other sources from March/April to September/October.

What guarantees and technical support do Sunuser customers receive?

Every new Sunuser installation comes with a comprehensive 2 year guarantee. The solar thermal collectors have a 10 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty and their operation is thermostatically controlled to prevent overheating. In addition to this guarantee, all Sunuser customers have access to our highly trained technical department via telephone or e-mail to ensure they are making the most of their system.

Will the solar thermal installation damage my roof?

No. The solar thermal collectors are secured by our experienced installation engineers to rails fastened to brackets, which are attached to the underlying roof timbers. There are no structural alterations to the roof and the collectors are easily removed. Only the highest quality MCS approved roof fixing systems are used and collectors weigh only 43kg spread over 2.51m².

Does the system require maintenance?

We recommend that a solar thermal system is serviced and the anti-freeze/inhibitor fluid within the solar primary circuit replaced every 5 years. This provides the system with adequate frost protection and prevents permanent damage to the collectors.

Can I use the solar thermal system to heat water for other purposes e.g. a swimming pool?

Yes. Both indoor and outdoor swimming pools are ideally suited to benefit from a Sunuser solar thermal installation. Large volumes of water are efficiently heated by our solar thermal systems to vastly reduce fuel bills. However, swimming pools do not qualify for the RHI payments. A Sunuser solar thermal system can also be used to heat water for commercial applications such as hotels, nursing homes and hospitals or for any production process where there is a requirement for hot water.

Can I upgrade my existing solar thermal system to get paid for the RHI?

Yes. You can upgrade your existing solar thermal system (flat plate or vacuum tube) with new ‘Advanced High Performance’ solar collectors enabling you to qualify for the RHI payments. Your system would also be upgraded to comply with current MCS standards. Please contact us or visit the RHI Upgrade section of our website for further details.

I’ve got a solar thermal system which was installed by a company no longer in business. Can you repair or maintain this for me?

Yes. Sunuser has been successfully repairing and servicing both domestic and commercial solar thermal systems nationwide since 1981. We are very experienced with both flat plate and vacuum tube solar thermal equipment and provide the highest level of workmanship and customer service. Please visit the Solar Service section of our website for further details.