Solar Thermal: Complete Guide to the Pros, Cons and Costs

stone clad house with solar thermal panels on roof
(Image credit: Worcester Bosch)

Solar thermal panels efficiently convert sunlight into energy, using it to create hot water for your home. 

Solar thermal is an older technology than solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and while the latter has seen huge growth in the last decade – in no small part thanks to the now-finished Feed-In Tariff (FiT), which provided generous payments to homeowners – there’s still a place at the table for solar thermal panels, depending on your property's needs. 

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Header Cell - Column 0 What are the advantages of solar thermal energy?What are the disadvantages of solar thermal energy?
Row 0 - Cell 0 They take up less space on the roof than solar PV panelsWeather dependent, and less efficient during winter months
Row 1 - Cell 0 There are virtually no/minimal running costsThe payback period can be some 20 or so years, depending on your existing fuel source and hot water use.
Row 2 - Cell 0 Simple, reliable technology which can lower your energy bills.Can only generate hot water, not electricity.
Row 3 - Cell 0 Row 3 - Cell 1 Not compatible with combi boilers or houses without a hot water tank
David Hilton

David is a renewables and ventilation installer, with over 35 years experience, and is a long-standing contributor to Homebuilding and Renovating magazine. He is a member of the Gas Safe Register, has a Masters degree in Sustainable Architecture, and is an authority in sustainable building and energy efficiency, with extensive knowledge in building fabrics, heat recovery ventilation, renewables, and also conventional heating systems. He is also a speaker at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show. 

Passionate about healthy, efficient homes, he is director of Heat and Energy Ltd. He works with architects, builders, self builders and renovators, and designs and project manages the installation of ventilation and heating systems to achieve the most energy efficient and cost effective outcome for every home.